Global Health & Safety

Environment Allergies and Restrictions

Students traveling with environmental allergies should actively plan for their experience, think about traveling with these restrictions and develop strategies for staying healthy.

Travelers on Ohio State University Approved or Managed Programs

Travelers seeking reasonable accommodations for environmental allergies are advised to disclose this information on the post-acceptance Accommodations and Disabilities Form. This will allow your OIA program coordinator or program leader to communicate this information to travel providers for transportation and housing to determine reasonable accommodations.

Travelers with allergies to insect stings or other allergens that may prompt a life-threatening reaction or require medical assistance are advised to disclose their allergies on the post-acceptance Health Information Form. 

Transportation Arrangements

There are no standard requirements for airlines to make accommodations for travelers with environmental allergies according to the Air Carrier Access Act. Travelers are advised to:

  1. Notify their airline in advance of their allergy and request accommodation. Accommodations are not standard practice, especially on non-U.S. carriers; some airlines may offer to create a buffer zone or relocate your seating. If traveling on an Ohio State arranged group flight, your program coordinator can ask the travel agent to make this request.
  2. Be sure to pack any medications in your carry-on luggage. If traveling with an inhaler or emergency EpiPen auto-injector, make sure it is accessible at all times (e.g. in the seatback pocket versus stored in the overhead bin). Do not carry emergency items in a roller bag or other large item that may need to be gate checked on smaller planes.  

Preparing to Travel with an Environmental Allergy

It is the responsibility of individual travelers to learn the vocabulary of their environmental allergies in the language(s) of their host country to communicate their needs to airline staff, housing coordinators and in-country program providers. Students should learn and carry the written translation of any allergens, restricted items or medical concerns with life threatening reactions.

  1. Research issues concerning air-quality and pollution. Several resources including AirNowAQICNBreathelife and the World Health Organization provide information on air-quality metrics in various cities and countries.    
  2. If you use specific items such as an anti-allergen pillow cover, fragrance free toiletries or detergents, a N95 mask or a portable nebulizer to manage your health, prepare to travel with these items. Do not rely on these items being readily available at your destination.
  3. GeoBlue has a medical phrases translator that can offer translations and pronunciation of terms and phrases such as “asthma,” “penicillin” and “I am allergic to bee-stings” from English to over a dozen languages.
  4. Selectwisely sells translation cards for a range of allergies including animals and insects, asthma and smoke, drugs and skin contact allergens.  

If a particular allergy or language is not accessible in these resources, search information online to communicate about your health and medical needs in a new environment.

Medical Arrangements

Travelers with environmental allergies that may require medical assistance or cause anaphylaxis or other life-threatening reactions are advised to consider the following:

  1. Speak with their allergist or medical provider about their plans to travel, including the destination(s), duration and housing arrangements. Remember to include your allergies or restrictions in pre-travel medical consultations.
  2. Travel with a medical ID customized in the language(s) of the destination of travel or carry a laminated card with critical medical information written in both English and the host language(s).
  3. Consult the prescriptions, medications and medical supplies section for information on traveling with medicines and access abroad. Always carry your emergency medications everywhere you go while abroad.
  4. Do not assume allergists and emergency medical resources will be available in all locations. Speak with your program coordinator and consult the GeoBlue resources to determine accessibility to medical resources.
  5. Consider disclosing this information directly to the program leaders or staff at their destination abroad. If traveling on an Ohio State faculty-led program, most faculty and staff leaders are not medically trained to recognize anaphylaxis or administer an EpiPen auto-injector (note that Ohio State faculty-led programs do not travel with EpiPens). However, making them aware of your allergy, signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and if you are traveling with an EpiPen or other medications can help them recognize and assist you in responding to an emergency.