A few months before I left for Italy, I brought my old Italian chef card to my Italian tutor. I wanted to make sure it was as accurate as possible. I also needed to update any changes. With help from a friend, I had created it a few years ago prior to my first Italian travel adventure.
When I showed it to my tutor and explained all of my allergies, there were lots of changes that she wanted to make. We included what was on the Italian allergy website as well as her suggestions. We also re-worded the message, then added a back to it that listed foods that a restaurant could prepare for me if nothing safe was on the menu. I felt both confident and relieved when this process was complete!
I made copies of my chef card and laminated it. It is bigger than my English card that I use in the U.S., but it can still fit in my purse easily. I also have one in French. I need to work on one in Spanish, as well as in some of the other languages of places I may travel.
There are companies that can assist you with this process. I ordered one in Turkish from selectwisely.com. It is not detailed like the one I made, but if you really need one and have no idea of the language, it can be very helpful! They also put pictures on the card which I think is definitely useful! A few others that I have not tried yet are dietarycard.com, which is a UK-based company and allergytranslation.com, which seems to have a more detailed approach.
My Italian Medic Alert bracelet was an important investment before my move abroad. It has all of my anaphylactic allergies and asthma on the inside with the regular Medic Alert symbol on top.
Between my updated chef card and Medic Alert bracelet, I felt reassured that I was ready to set off on this new journey!
These are my tips:
- Prepare a chef card in the language of the country you are moving/traveling to
- Learn key phrases, especially in case of an emergency (Ex. “help” and “hospital”)
- If moving, order a Medic Alert bracelet in the language of the country you are living in
- Visit any allergy websites that are available for the country to read about foods with unsuspecting allergens (Ex. Lupin flour is used commonly in some European countries)
- Record emergency numbers in a safe spot (outside the U.S. the emergency numbers vary
- Think ahead: In continents where travel between countries is cheap and efficient, it makes sense to create chef cards in those other languages in the case of a spontaneous adventure
- Always carry your Epi (also ask your doctor how many he recommends you carry)
- Better prepared=less worry and more fun! : )