So lets be real. Traveling with food allergies is not fun. In fact, its stressful, often times annoying, and usually ends in frustration. Unfortunately, all restaurants do not have their foods labeled, separated and conveniently packaged for people who may be intolerant to a variety of foods.
BUT, with a few advanced planning techniques, obstacles related to food allergies and dietary restrictions can be overcome so your travel experience is less stressful.
One of the biggest challenges comes with cross-contamination of foods while eating out at restaurants. While planning can take away from some of the spontaneity of travel, researching restaurants in advance can greatly reduce the stress related to ordering when you arrive at the restaurant. Research in advance also allows you more time for fun (or work) while on your trip. Spend a few hours mapping out your trip before you head out, so that way once you arrive at your destination you do not have to worry about where you will go!
If you are traveling abroad it may be beneficial to carry a card that states the foods you are allergic to in the native language. This will help you to avoid confusion and communicate with the restaurant about your needs. It might also be beneficial to memorize a few key words related to your food restrictions.
If you’re going on a long trip it may be worth it to book a hotel room that has a kitchen. Purchasing and preparing your own food will ease your mind about the risks involved with food allergies. Preparing your own meals will allow you to eat more healthfully and in addition save some money on food (to spend on fun travelling activities!) If a room with a kitchen isn’t available, at least ask for a room with a refrigerator so you can keep healthy snacks on hand. Always keep snacks on hand for situations that may leave you in a bind. Flight delays can cause bumps in the road but if you have things on hand that are readily available you can prevent airport hunger that might lead to eating something you are allergic to! Remember, proper planning prevents poor performance!
For some travelers, looking into Bob & Ruth’s Gluten-free dining and travel club may be a beneficial investment. This website provides resources for gluten free travelers and highlights destinations that are gluten free.
Other online resources for finding restaurants and grocery stores include:
If you have any specific questions related to food allergies and traveling, please feel free to leave a comment below!
Heather Heefner MS, RD, LD, CLT is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who blogs at www.thefittestfuel.com. Heather is passionate about helping people establish a balanced lifestyle by leading by example and is committed to spreading the truth about food to help people live life to the fullest. Heather believes that nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated…but with a little practice it becomes habit! Visit her website for more information about her services.