However it is easy to forget about these issues when you are planning a trip, right up until you arrive in a country and actually have no idea how do deal with it. Questions go through your head like, What if there aren’t any places that cater for my requirements? Oh my gosh there’s just so much fraaeyyy’dd chiiick’N everywhere- What is even in that? AND MORE! The doubts can be endless but here are a few tips to help make travelling with an allergy or intolerance easier.
- When booking flights, be sure to let your airline know of your requirements. This is important so that they can provide meals specifically to suit your needs. If it’s online booking, be sure to choose your requirement using the common code options: GFML for gluten free meals, NLML for non-lactose meals, PFML for peanut free meals and DBML for diabetic meals. Finally, if your seat gets changed when checking in, be sure to remind them that your meal needs to go with you, because often they forget this.
- Research, look up what the local cuisine is and how it fits in with your dietary requirements. Each country has a wide range of traditional foods on offer, with many that are allergen or intolerance friendly. By doing a bit of research, at least you’ll already know a foreign word- if the name of the food is another language. Find out about restaurants and cafes that cater for your needs before you leave too. For example I have found that Berlin has a wide range of gluten free foods, restaurants and supermarkets, so I’ll be checking them out over Christmas this year! Also the find out where the local farmers markets are, as this is a fun experience that offers fresh foods, that are often allergy/intolerance friendly.
- Bring snacks for the plane ride. Plane food is usually ‘plain’ and gross anyway, so having other food can be good. At least if the airline doesn’t record your dietary requirement correctly, you’ll have some back up snacks to keep you going!
- Stock up on Meds. Bring loads of pro-biotics, soothing teas, natural remedies, antihistamine… whatever you need! If it’s a stronger medicine, you should check if it’s allowed in specific countries and ask for a letter from your Doctor.
- Learn how to say your requirements in the country’s language you’re travelling to. For example learn how to say “I cannot eat peanuts as I am extremely allergic” in Spanish “No puedo comer cacahuetes como soy muy alérgica” or if you need to say “I cannot eat gluten, it makes me extremely sick” in French “Je ne peux pas manger de gluten, il me fait extrêmement malade“. This is when translation cards comes in handy, which can be found here and here, so you don’t have to try and say it if you’re embarrassed- especially if your pronunciation isn’t up to scratch.
- See if you need extra travel insurance to cover you. In case of a medical emergency that’s related to your allergy.
- Book accommodation with a kitchenette. When you are staying somewhere for a few days this is a great idea, so if you need to, you can make your own food. Then after arriving, stock up on food from the supermarket.
Overall, you might feel that when you are in a foreign country, you are the only person in the world dealing with a dietary requirement or allergy because it’s so hard to find information. However by doing some extra research and planning ahead, you can easily find restaurants and shops that cater for your needs. Just remember that dietary requirements and allergies are common all over the world, you just need to do some research and plan ahead. Learning what the country’s symbols or words for the requirement are, will make it easy to deal with while you are away.