- Start building a travel check list – this helps you to become more organized with each trip you take. The more you travel, the more you can add to the check list and improve your planning process so that traveling doesn’t become a chore.
- Support groups –many countries do have support groups for food intolerances and allergies. Contact them before traveling to find out any tips about traveling in that country. Many will advise on where to stay, eat and shop for food.
- Research and planning– this is the best way to boost your confidence and calm any nervousness you may have about traveling with your restricted diet. Get online to search for restaurants and grocery stores close to where you’re staying. There are a lot of sites out there offering this advice. Google ‘traveling gluten free in Spain’ for instance and you’ll find lots of specific advice for that region. Knowing ahead of time where to eat and shop is reassuring and simplifies your holiday.
- Translation cards or Dining/Restaurant Cards – if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, make sure you download food translation cards or dining/restaurant cards. Google them and most are available for free. These cards will help you read menus and also help you to explain your diet to waiters and hotel staff.They provide food allergy, intolerance and special diet language translations in a credit card-sized dietary card which can be used to alert staff in restaurants, hotels, catered events and as a reference tool at grocery stores. So if you’re backpacking through Italy, on a business trip to the USA or at a resort in Fiji, these cards can be immensely useful. You can print lots of copies of the cards to give out and refer to and they will fit into your travel wallet no problem.
- Choose where to go– before choosing your holiday destination, you might want to do some of the above research to ensure you feel happy about going there at all. Choose a country/place where you find lots of information that will help you manage your diet whilst there.
- Hotels or resorts– choose a hotel that caters for restricted diets.
- Airlines– choose an airline that caters for restricted diets. Websites and travel agents will be able to advise you. Make sure you book your special meal well in advance of the flight dates. Confirm your meal request directly with your airline a few days prior to departure as a back up. Take some snacks as an emergency back up too, or in case your flight is delayed. Also, if you’re traveling by airplane (or train), ask your doctor to write a letter authorizing you to carry any medication you might need to prevent potential confusion/delays at security checkpoints.
- Take your own food – when visiting fun parks, attractions or traveling on trains or you don’t know if you’ll be able to buy foods locally, take your own food. If traveling overseas, educate yourself on the local food laws. Some countries won’t allow certain foods to be brought with you and your intolerance-free foods may be confiscated! Another benefit of knowing the local food laws is that you can also be comfortable shipping foods directly to where you will be staying so it doesn’t need to be packed.
- Dining abroad rules– just as when you’re dining in restaurants at home, use the same rules for when dining abroad. (See 15 Secrets to Dining Out with a Food Intolerance). If you’re going abroad and speak the language, talk directly to grocery store, restaurant, and hotel managers. If language is a barrier you can find help through food allergy organizations, travel agents or local friends and relatives. Make the calls with paper and pen at your side and make lots of notes.
- All foods are not the same– do not assume that foods that are safe at home are safe abroad. Different ingredients can be used for varying international taste e.g. peanut butter can be used to thicken chili.
Also consider that food intolerance, unlike food allergies, are not for life. You can cure food intolerance and then travelling becomes a lot easier again. To find out more about testing for food intolerance and curing it, read on.
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