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Convincing my wife to travel was the easy part. Relieving the concern over her tree nut allergy was a bit trickier. With a potentially life-threatening condition arising from such a simple food, we didn’t want to take any chances.
Learning enough of each country’s language would be a difficult task for a long-term adventure, and dedicated allergy cards with proper translations can be quite expensive (up to $5 per card). Then we discovered the Nut Allergy app for the iPhone, costing 99 cents.
This app takes those expensive translation cards and digitizes them into one easy to use package. Just pick a country via an image of its flag and two sentences appear: “I am allergic to nuts. Does this contain nuts?”
For languages that use a different alphabet, the question is displayed in local text as well as Romanised form in case you want to try it yourself.
But of course, being how we are, we wanted to try it ourselves. We found the most remote restaurant in Thailand, with a server who barely spoke any English. Even though we felt pretty good about our phonetic attempts at the Thai on our page, the server had no idea what we were talking about.
Fortunately, when we showed her the app, she instantly began saying “No, no no no no!” and waving her hands all over the place. Score one for the app.
This scenario applies even in more fluent countries too. Your waiter may speak English, and their fluency would get them pretty far, but the second you say words like “tree nuts” and “allergies” you’ll get a blank look.
English for tourism is a big thing in most countries, but these are words most people just do not know. The second you say it in the local language or share a photo from the screen, they get it right away.
What Languages Does the App Include?
This simple translation app contains over 50 languages from the world’s most visited countries and spoken dialects. Some of the more familiar languages that are featured in the app include Russian, German, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean, and Japanese.
Where the app really shines, though, is the languages featured from less traveled countries. Languages such as Latvian, Norwegian, Hungarian, Haitian Creole, Basque, Arabic, Afrikaans, Slovenian, and Urdu are just a selection of where the app covers you no matter where you travel.
When trying to find a downside to the app, it is hard to pinpoint a negative when the uses are so beneficial. The only thing that is truly missing that could turn this app from useful to amazing is a text-to-speech button. That would allow you to play the phrases out loud in the cases where a restaurant server is unable to read your tiny screen, or even read at all.
With a potentially life-threatening condition like a tree nut allergy, would you risk anything else for an improper translation? We wouldn’t, and $0.99 is the least we can pay for the peace of mind.
You can find the “Nut Allergy” app on the iTunes store for $0.99.