Adoration 4 Adventure’s top 5 tips for traveling with a food allergy.
While traveling in Europe in 2015, I experienced a number of strange symptoms that were totally new to me. Friends of mine who had food allergies recognized similarities in the symptoms and suggested that I might have some kind of gluten intolerance. I also have a lactose sensitivity and it is not uncommon to have more than one type of food allergy. I decided to cut gluten from my life, which I ended up doing for over three months. The day that I started was a sad one, particularly because carbohydrates had been my favorite food group up until that point.
Having a food allergy, intolerance or preference can mean making major lifestyle changes, however, it shouldn’t necessarily cost the things you love the most, including travel. The following are methods that I use for traveling with a food preference and could also be applied to other dietary requirements, allergies or lifestyle choices including vegetarian and vegan.
5. Research before you go
Some destinations are more food allergy friendly than others so it is a good idea to research your destination before you book that plane ticket. For example, if you are lactose intolerant you may find it difficult to find soy milk (or other dairy alternatives) in more remote places.
In those situations, you may choose not to travel to a destination that doesn’t have easy access to alternatives or just skip that particular food type altogether, like switching to black coffee instead of using creamer. Either way, knowing more about the destination will help you prepare and make more informed decisions.
4. Seek out food allergy friendly restaurants
Look online or use an app like Yelp to search for restaurants that are allergy friendly and see what places are in the area that serve food you can eat.
It is a good idea to call the restaurant to make sure they have the proper ingredients in stock. Also check if you need to order ahead of arrival, as sometimes they need to make your meal from scratch.
3. Tell everyone
When dining out make sure to be upfront and clear about your food allergy with your server. It helps to say “I am allergic to ….” rather than “I have an intolerance to …”. Saying you are “allergic” is often taken more seriously and the server will be more likely to communicate this message to the kitchen. For countries with a foreign language, you could create small cards (or even pieces of paper) with a sentence in the native language stating what your allergy is.
This applies to plane travel too. When booking your flights don’t forget to indicate that you have a food allergy. The positive is that you will be served your meal first.
It is also important to tell your friends, especially when being invited over for dinner. The only thing more uncomfortable than disclosing your food allergy is to show up and have to sit there while everyone else eats. If you are worried about making a fuss, you could always offer to bring along a dish for yourself so that the cook doesn’t have to make a separate meal. More often than not, your host will be more than happy to accommodate you.
2. Cook your own
Since finding out that I had a gluten allergy, I cook more than I ever had. The upside is that I am saving more money and eating healthier.
Whenever possible, you can try this for your travels too. Either precook meals to take with you or once you arrive at your destination, head to the supermarket to purchase ingredients for cooking in your hostel/hotel kitchen.
Just remember to choose accommodation that comes with a kitchen e.g. hostel, aparthotel, Airbnb.
1. Carry snacks
These days I always carry gluten free snacks on me whenever I am away from home. This way, if I find myself in a situation where there are no appropriate food options, I can fill up on fruit or a GF snack bar that I have hidden away in my bag.
There is nothing worse than waiting in an airport and realizing that there are no suitable food options for you. It is easy to pre-purchase snacks and take them on trips with you.
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