Living with food limitations is challenging in everyday life – add on traveling to foreign places with new restaurants and menus and it feels downright impossible.
I recently developed a severe dairy intolerance which is heartbreaking because I am a cheese lover. That is it’s own, long, and embarrassing journey which I’ll spare you the details of but knowing how hard of a time I’ve had with eating after discovering the allergy (because dairy is in EVERYTHING) it has made traveling all that more difficult as well. I’ve rounded up a few tips that have helped me enjoy my vacations and not be limited to eating bread or salad (hold the feta).
1. Plan ahead – sure, we all love to be spontaneous but the reality is, having a food allergy is really limiting! Which means, mapping out some great food spots that you’ve reviewed the menu ahead of time will save later frustration. I’ve also found that often times the serving staff doesn’t know what ingredients are in their food. They’ll have to check with the kitchen or will assure you “no that dish doesn’t contain x,y,z” but they’re not always correct. I’ve resorted to calling ahead and asking! That way I am getting someone’s undivided attention and don’t have to worry they’re distracted with other patrons and not taking your questions seriously.
2. Pack Lots of Snacks – the reality is you may have a hard time finding things that meet your dietary needs. Pack snacks. And not just tolerable snacks, pack things that you love and will get excited about because they may come in handy!
3. Stick with what you know – you may dream of eating that cheese Sicilian pizza (like I do) but if the dairy-free pizza sounds too good to be true, it might be. It’s not worth risking getting sick while traveling and wasting precious time! So, eat that grilled chicken that you know is safe, and thank yourself later.
4. Find a local Grocery Store – the best way to know what’s in your food is to make it yourself! Scope out a local farmers market or grocery store and stock up to make meals at home. Even one or two meals at your hotel will be a relief knowing you’re getting something yummy and safe for you to consume. Plus, there’s something romantic about “living like a local” when you travel.
5. Download an App – there’s technology for everything! I use the Allergy Eats app when I’m traveling. This app allows you to select the type of allergy you have and then provides restaurants in your desired location. You’re then given a list of restaurants that can accommodate your allergy need, with a community of members reviewing these selected restaurants based on their allergy experience. They have a website as well with popular destinations reviewed (Disney World, NYC) with extensive options based on your allergy which is truly incredible.
What are some of the ways you have helped manage a food allergy/intolerance while traveling? Leave me your tips in my comments!