Eating Internationally With Food Allergies
Last updated: September 2022
Traveling abroad for leisure is always thrilling. Visiting a new place you've never been to experience a new culture are some of the best gifts in life. But when you have food allergies, this can seem a bit daunting. What will you be able to eat? What if there aren't any of your safe foods around? Will you be able to try new foods? What if you have a reaction?
These questions are valid and should be thoroughly considered before booking a trip. Your allergy is a priority and, unfortunately, must be considered before planning to travel abroad.
So, as a result of a recent family vacation abroad, I thought I'd share how I prepared and managed throughout my trip. Let's take a look at what I did.
First and foremost, I planned ahead of time. I gathered all the information about where I was staying, nearby restaurants, grocery stores, etc. I also had a family member who had already traveled to this particular destination multiple times, so I could ask my allergy-related questions and get thorough and trusted answers.
Check the menu
Since my trip consisted of 9 family members, we had a light itinerary in place. On our first night of arrival, we had reservations at a restaurant nearby. So I could look at the menu and know my food options.
Shop for allergy-friendly groceries
As a family, we opted to do a large grocery haul and eat most of our meals at home, as our rental had incredible hotel-like amenities, such as an infinity pool. In other words, this trip did not consist of much exploring but rather a relaxing lounge-by-the-pool kind of trip. So I was comfortable attending this vacation, knowing we would cook at home and I wouldn't be stressing about food.
Pack safe foods
Although I knew we would buy groceries, I still packed a few safe foods during travel. I packed snacks for the plane that I knew wouldn't bother me and other items like wheat and gluten-free bagels that are my go-to for breakfast.
I suggest packing the particular things you know wouldn't be available at a typical grocery store abroad. Remember you can't carry on liquids and bring certain foods into another country, like fruit. Check the TSA website to familiarize yourself with the rules.
Bring allergy medication
Of course, pack your allergy medications with you if you have an allergic reaction. You never know if you will miss a flight or stay longer than expected. When it comes to medicine, always, always pack extra. And carry it on; never put it in a checked bag if your luggage gets lost.
Be mindful about travel location
Although abroad, I chose a travel destination with amenities very similar to the United States—so I knew I would be comfortable. I also learned many of the locals spoke English, and I spoke their native language, Spanish. If an emergency happened, I felt comfortable communicating.
Don’t avoid travelling completely
Lastly, don't be afraid to travel abroad. I have found that in many countries the quality of food is fresher! A safe food of mine is fish, and while on vacation, I had the most mouth-watering, fantastic fish. Absolutely delicious! So don't believe that it is impossible to travel abroad, but it does take planning and organization.
If you have mild to moderate food allergies, have you traveled abroad? How did you manage?
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?