Travelling with dietary restrictions can be a challenge, but there’s no reason why it should ruin your travel plans.
A bit of forward planning ahead of a trip can help avoid a lot of hassle, particularly in countries where English isn’t commonly spoken. Yes, it may mean certain aspects of your trip are less spontaneous, but it’s better than going hungry (or worse, hangry…)
Here are some ideas to avoid any tummy troubles.
Do your research
Before you depart for your trip, research what the local food is like and identify foods to avoid and foods that will be safe for you to eat. See if there are restaurants in the area that cater for your needs and research where you can find grocery stores to stock up on safe foods.
Carry translation cards
You can find these online, or you can make your own. Make sure you detail exactly what you can’t eat (remembering some ingredients can hide in sauces or marinades). It’s also helpful to try and memorise a few key phrases so you can talk to waiters with confidence before showing your translation cards. You’ll also need to memorise words you absolutely need to steer clear of. If you have a severe peanut allergy for example, you’ll need to know how to read “peanut” in another language.
Pack some non-perishable items in your suitcase
When packing for your trip, include some small, easy to pack non-perishable items that are safe for you to eat. Rice cakes, packet soups, crackers or muesli bars are easy to pack into your suitcase and carry on and require minimal prep to eat. You don’t need to pack food to last the entire trip, but at least until you can get to a local grocery store to stock up. Also be aware some countries have restrictions about what food you can bring in to their country, make sure you check first!
Always carry safe foods
Murphy’s Law (i.e. anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) pretty much guarantees that the day you don’t have safe foods in your carry on bag is the day your flight will be delayed. You don’t want to find yourself stranded in an airport unable to eat any of the food on offer at the food court. Even if you’ve done your research it’s always best to carry a back up option.
Grocery shops and picnic lunches are going to be your best friends. Not only are they a great money saver, but buying your own ingredients means you’ll have the time to read the labels and make sure they’re safe for you to eat. Grab some fresh fruit and vegetables, some meat from the deli or some crackers and dips and you’re good to go!
Stay in an apartment
Renting an apartment from websites like Airbnb is an ideal solution to travelling with food intolerances. You’ll be able to buy and store your own food and cook as many meals for yourself as you like. Grab some containers or cling wrap and prepare your own lunches to take with you on a day out and you’ll never need to worry about finding a food outlet that caters to your needs.
Be prepared for accidents
Despite all of your research and planning, accidents can happen and you may find yourself inadvertently eating something you shouldn’t. Always carry any medicines you need with you, and bring anything you need to deal with reactions. Hot water bottles and herbal teas are great for soothing an upset stomach and don’t take up much room in your suitcase. If you have a severe allergy always carry your EpiPen and make sure your travel buddies know how to use it. Most of the time you’ll be able to find something to eat without any dramas, but always be prepared.
Join the discussion!
Do you have dietary restrictions? Share your tips below!