Note: we are not medical professionals. ALWAYS consult your doctor before traveling Southeast Asia with a peanut allergy.
You’ve been dreaming about visiting Southeast Asia for a long time now. Its white-sand beaches, friendly people, tasty food and incredible wildlife have been calling out to you. But one thing is holding you back – an allergy to peanuts and these crunchy morsels happen to be included in a lot of Asian cuisine.
And you’re certainly not alone. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) allergies to peanuts/tree nuts more than tripled among U.S. children between 1997 and 2008. In the worst cases, sufferers can go into anaphylactic shock where the throat can swell, blocking the airways.
In Asia, to compare, peanut allergies are not much of an issue. Westerners are about twice as likely as East Asians to be allergic to peanuts, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
If you suffer from a peanut allergy and have decided to travel to Southeast Asia, we’ve compiled a few tips to help keep you safe.
1. Consult your doctor first
Always seek medical advice from your GP or a travel doctor before traveling Southeast Asia with a peanut allergy. It’s likely you won’t be the first person to ask your doctor about traveling with this particular allergy in Asia, so your GP should be well-prepared with guidance and be able to advise the medication you’ll need to bring with you on your travels. You should also ask your doctor to write you an official note explaining your peanut allergy and your required medication, so that you are prepared if you’re asked any questions at airports or in the places you are traveling.
2. Be careful when eating street food
Photo via Flickr user J Aaron Farr
If your peanut allergy is at the severe end of the spectrum, it may pay to avoid street food altogether, as you can’t be sure of what’s in it. However, experiencing street food is a large part of enjoying and getting the most out of your Asian travel experience and some bloggers allergic to nuts tend to prefer eating street food as you can see the chef and all the ingredients right before your eyes. But if you don’t want to take the risk, often in cities like Bangkok (Thailand) or Hanoi (Vietnam) you can also find tasty street food dishes in restaurants.
Restaurants might be a little pricier but if it’s a tourist-geared restaurant the staff will be more likely to speak English and it should be easier for you to communicate your allergy and find out what does or doesn’t contain nuts. However, even in a restaurant one should always be cautious and inspect food closely before eating it.
See some common dishes that contain peanuts below: