Food allergies are no joke. The idea of being a constant worry to your family and friends while on holiday is enough to make you want to stay home. But there are ways that you can travel abroad with food allergies and still have a fantastic time.
Let s take a look at some tips for traveling abroad with food allergies.
Ask for recommendations for restaurants and hotels ahead of time
The best way to ensure safe food when you travel overseas is to research where the locals eat and stay. Tripadvisor can be an excellent resource for this, and booking through hotel sites like Venere or booking.com often comes with a suggestion section in the review.
If time allows, sit down and read through as many reviews as possible to find what restaurant options are safe. You can also read through the menus and translate the ingredients before you go on your trip. This way, you’ll have an idea of where to go and what to order.
Many restaurants will serve you from the regular menu in Asia, or you can consider unique food-free places like Japanese cafes that offer all-you-can-eat reads for a set price. Here, you can see what food you’re getting and decide which options go on your plate.
If you’re unsure about a dish, skip it. If you do have to eat at a cafe, always ask for the ingredients before ordering.
Ask for an extra prescription
As much as possible, bring enough allergy medicine with you to last the entire trip. It will also help you learn prescription medications’ generic and brand names in the different countries you’ll be visiting.
Additionally scout for allergy experts in the area you will be staying in. This is the fastest and most convenient way to get a new prescription if your old one runs out. It’s best if you can find a food allergy clinic that you can visit during your stay. This is especially helpful if you’ll be staying overseas for extended periods, like on a work assignment or study grant.
For extreme allergies, always travel with an epi-pen. This will give you the quickest access and best protection from anaphylactic shock if anything should happen while you’re traveling.
Know where the nearest hospital is
Whether you’re staying in the city or the middle of the desert, know where the nearest hospital is and if there’s a way to get there —fast.
You’ll never know when you’ll get an allergy attack, so it’s best to have someone who can drive you there. Unfortunately, this means that camping or going on a solo journey will not be an ideal vacation for you. You can’t risk getting stung by a bee while hiking by yourself.
Learn to ask for help in different languages
Even if you don’t speak any local languages, it’s wise to learn a few key phrases like ‘I am allergic’ or ‘I have a peanut allergy.’ You’ll find that people are often willing to help you, especially if you’re polite about it.
Besides communicating the ingredients or products you are allergic to, knowing how to ask for a doctor or be taken to a hospital will also be a great advantage. There’s no such thing as being too prepared when traveling with food allergies and in a foreign country.
Bring your chef cards with you all the time
Chef cards are small cards that let you accurately explain your allergies to the kitchen and restaurant staff. Even if you’re not entirely fluent in the local language, a Chef card can help get your point across quickly without causing much fuss.
If it’s possible, bring an extra one with you so that whoever is helping you out after you are done eating can have them on hand just in case they accidentally cross-contaminate or mislabel your food.
Learn how to cook your favorite meals before you go
If all else fails and there aren’t any safe restaurants in the area, it’s still best that you know how to prepare the foods yourself so that at least you’ll be able to enjoy a meal every once in a while.
Bringing a few easy-to-make meals like rice and beans will help fend off cravings for your favorite dishes. Plus, you’ll have something to give your host if they cook for you, even when the local restaurants aren’t safe yet.
Just because you’re suffering from food allergies doesn’t mean that traveling is out of the question. We hope these tips help keep you safe abroad and prevent travel fatigue before it even begins.