5 Best Ways To Travel With A Food Allergy
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5 Ways To Travel With A Food Allergy Without A Suitcase Full Of Meals

Don't let your dietary restrictions keep you at home!

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5 Ways To Travel With A Food Allergy Without A Suitcase Full Of Meals

When I travel, I always feel slightly ashamed of my excessive luggage.

Part of me would like to embody the practical globetrotter who carries only what he or she absolutely needs and can fit those necessities into the smallest space possible. Unfortunately for my aspirations to compact pack, my food allergies mean that said necessities typically include several days worth of meals.

Despite this, I firmly believe that no one should have to let their dietary restrictions keep them from seeing new places or doing new things.

Food allergies can certainly pose challenges when arranging to eat someplace you've never visited before, but following a few tips can keep you safe and make your journey a little less stressful.

1. Do your research before your trip.

Depending on the extent of your allergies, you may or may not feel comfortable eating out while you travel.

If you're not planning to rely entirely on food you bring or prepare yourself, make sure you look up locations that can accommodate you beforehand. Frequently, restaurants will state whether they can guarantee their dishes are prepared without cross-contamination on their websites; if they don't, you may be better off looking for an alternative.

Many travelers enjoy ordering food spontaneously, but I've found that lack of planning puts one at risk of not being able to find a safe option - or worse, picking an option that seems safe but turns out to be anything but.

2. Bring your emergency medications wherever you go.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you should always carry your EpiPens (if you need them) and Benadryl with you, even if you don't think you'll be eating on a particular outing.

You never know when an emergency might arise. I'd also advise carrying an ID and insurance card around at all times for any unexpected trips to the hospital.

Depending on the severity of your allergy (and whether or not you are traveling alone), you may also want to wear some kind of medical alert jewelry that alerts bystanders and healthcare providers to your needs in case you are not conscious to self-administer your EpiPen.

3. If you're bringing your own food, make sure you account for every meal you'll need to eat on your trip.

Bringing a suitcase full of food for your trip may be inconvenient, but if eating at local restaurants is too risky, it's generally better to overpack.

Make sure to bring a wide variety of options that you know you will enjoy, and check to see if a microwave or refrigerator will be available where you plan on staying. For longer trips, you may be able to restock at local grocery stores, but you should always check first to ensure you have access when you arrive.

Even if you think you can subsist on relatively little, I have found that attempting to conserve a limited food supply can tempt you into purchasing food from vendors that you cannot trust to be safe. Think about what you will be doing on your trip: you may be hungrier after a long day of sightseeing than you would be if you were following your normal daily routine.

4. If traveling abroad, make sure you communicate your needs to the people around you.

Awareness of food allergies varies widely around the world, and those in locations where such restrictions are rare may struggle to accommodate you.

You will want to research the place you are visiting before you embark on your trip and, if possible, learn enough of the predominant language to describe your condition and inquire after the safety of particular items.

At the very least, you may want to bring along a more experienced traveler or participate in a tour group in which your guide can discuss your limitations with those preparing your food. However, keep in mind that having someone else communicate the particulars and severity of your allergy increases the chance that certain risks may be downplayed or forgotten; you should minimize the number of "in-betweens" and keep food-related interactions as direct as possible whenever you can.

5. Allergies don't have to make culinary tourism impossible.

Though dietary restrictions can definitely reduce your ability to explore the local cuisine, a little research and creativity can often reveal safe, exciting new culinary experiences.

For me, this has taken the form of adventures like hunting down gluten-free restaurants and bakeries in New York City that I would never find in my hometown and buying fruit, cheese, and mushroom dips at open-air markets in Florence, Italy for a quick, tasty lunch.

Your exact opportunities may vary depending on the type and extent of your allergy, but with proper planning and preparation, you don't have to let your limitations diminish your ability to make the most out of your trip.

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