Eating Out With Food Intolerances While Traveling

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Today's post is written by Julia from Overcome Food Intolerances. Overcome Food Intolerances has information on a variety of food intolerances to help you live an intolerance-free life. Swing by and check it out!

Eating Out With Food Intolerances While Traveling

If you suffer from a food allergy, or intolerance, you are already acutely aware of how complicated it can make life. For many people, eating out is not easy.



Why Eating Out With A Food Intolerance Is A Challenge

In the early days, it is a bit of a minefield. Often, you are still learning about your food intolerances. Not only are you not 100% sure of what items on a menu you can and cannot eat, finding restaurants that reliably share details of what is used to make their dishes is difficult.
However, over time things improve. You can easily spot hidden soy in restaurant food. For example, you know not to order anything fried without checking what type of oil is being used. 

In your home, you eventually narrow down your options, and work out which local restaurants sell meals that you can safely enjoy. Once seated, you know exactly what you can and cannot eat. Often, the waiting staff will get to know you and your dietary needs. When that happens, they help you to quickly work out whether new menu items are safe for you to eat.

The chances are you are still a little nervous about eating out, but when in your local area feel confident enough to enjoy meals with your family. You are in your comfort zone, but that all changes when you travel.

The Challenge

Once again you are in unknown territory, and the chances are the further afield you go the more uncomfortable you will feel. In your own country, the chances are you can go into a national chain restaurant, and know what to order. If that is not possible, you can just pop into a supermarket and buy a few of the branded products you know you can eat. It is not much fun doing this when you planned to eat a meal out, but at least you do not have to go home hungry. You can always salvage the day by eating it as an impromptu picnic.

Things get trickier when you travel abroad. Often the cuisine is completely different from yours, so eating a meal out is a daunting proposition. Even in the supermarket, you may not be able to find the brands that you normally eat.

Unsurprisingly, people who have food allergies or intolerances worry about traveling. This is perfectly understandable; however, all of the issues you face are surmountable. As you will see you really can travel with food intolerances and still be able to experience a new cuisine without making yourself ill.

Solving The Problem

As with many things surrounding travel, preparation is key. The more research you do before you travel the easier things will be when you get there.

Learn Some Basic Phrases

If you are traveling to a country where your native language is not widely spoken, it really is worth taking the time to learn some key phrases.  At the very least, you need to be able to ask if the foodstuffs you cannot eat are used a dish, and to explain that if you eat those ingredients it will make you ill.

The fastest way to put together a list of foods you need to avoid is to use Google translate, or get a list from your local allergy charity. Once your list is created, you will be able to save it to your phone and use it in the supermarket as well as restaurants. It is also well worth downloading a good translation app to help you out just in case the list does not prove to be enough.

Research Local Allergy Friendly Restaurants

Before you travel, take the time to go online and find allergy friendly restaurants in the area you are planning to stay. If you are planning to spend time visiting the sights, remember to take the time to find potential places to eat in those locations too.

Sometimes you can download an app to help you to find them. For example, if you are traveling to the UK, the Can I Eat There? app makes it easy to find places to eat without having to worry about your food intolerances. 

Make Your Hotel Aware of Your Dietary Needs

Before booking a half or full board deal make sure that you will actually be able to eat the meals. That way you can avoid being disappointed, and be able to budget for eating out if necessary.
If you are traveling by plane be sure to order an allergen friendly food. Most of the airlines are very good at delivering these meals. However, occasionally things go wrong. It is not unknown for these specialist meals to be accidentally left behind, so it makes sense to have something that you know you can eat in your hand luggage.

Do Not Make Assumptions

Many restaurant chains have branches across the world, so potentially in those you will be able to eat the same dishes you enjoy at home. However, it is important not to assume that this will be the case.

Most international chain restaurants adapt their menus to better suit the tastes of local people. Therefore, you cannot always find the items you normally eat. Even if they do sell the same food items, there is also a chance that the ingredients are different, so it is always worth checking before you order.

Pack Some Emergency Food

If you have the space, it is a good idea to pack some of your favourite allergen friendly snacks. That way you will always have something to eat if you cannot find somewhere to eat lunch.

Take Enough of Your Medication

Medications-wise most of the time you will be able to buy what you need, but it is never wise to assume that this will be the case. It is usually best to take your medications with you. Most medications can be taken abroad, but you need to check that this is the case. In some cases, you will need a letter from your doctor to accompany your drugs.
It is always wise to make sure you know where the local doctor is, and to make your holiday rep aware of your issues. If you use travel insurance double check that you are covered for treatment under the policy.

There is no doubt, that traveling with food intolerances complicates things a bit. However, with a little preparation it is not an insurmountable problem, so please do not let your food problems stop you from traveling if you want to.

If you are nervous, book a holiday close to home, and use it as a dry run. Or maybe stay with friends or relatives the first time you travel abroad to make things easier for yourself.