Life threatening and even minor allergies are something that can potentially hold people back from traveling. When it comes to your health, you can’t mess around. People who suffer from food allergies have to consider the types of ingredients that are in the local cuisine and what to do if there is a bad reaction.
I don’t have a major food allergy, but I no longer eat dairy, which has changed the way I travel. I now bring snacks with me and try to avoid certain dishes. But if you travel with allergies, there are ways to keep yourself safe with some advance planning.
Do Your Research
Find out about potential encounters with allergens at your destination before you leave. This can prevent potentially adverse reactions. If you’re allergic to peanuts, find out which dishes could potentially contain them or be cooked nearby, like pad thai in Thailand.
See if there are restaurants nearby that cater to special diets. Look up markets where you can buy ingredients you might want or stores that carry natural foods. Jodi of Legal Nomads has destination guides for gluten free travelers that suggest dishes and restaurants.
And if you are concerned about hotel breakfasts or finding things to eat, an alternative is to stay at an AirBnB or rental property with its own kitchen. You can cook your own meals, which also saves you money.
Know the Language
You must be able to tell people when you’re traveling about your allergy so as to avoid it, which is easier suggested than done. It’s not always possible to learn all the right words in the languages of the place you’re visiting, but simple phrases like “no dairy” or “peanuts make me sick” aren’t too difficult. Language apps and dictionaries can also be useful in these circumstances. Just don’t be afraid to speak up!
You can also order cards for your chosen allergy or sensitivity in the language of the places you’ll be visiting. Select Wisely makes cards in nearly every imaginable language to tell people about allergies, preferences and medical conditions. If you don’t see yours, you can even get them specially ordered. They cost $15 USD and are laminated and credit card sized, easy for on the go.
Bring Your Own Stuff
Anything you need from home, you should bring for yourself. Come prepared with food items like snacks or dehydrated meals that can be easily put together. A cooler and utensils are also great additions to your packing list to make meals on the go. I typically bring small containers of energy bars and peanut butter with a spork, as well as powdered drinks and food.
You should also bring a full medical kit with medications you might need in case of a reaction such as an epipen. Learn the alternate names of your medicine in case you need to refill while overseas. Antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream are always good to bring. And don’t forget to get travel insurance before you leave!
Do you travel with food allergies and have any tips to share? Do so below!