Travelling is the best thing in the word. (emphasis on the full stop). Seriously, nothing beats it, but it does have its nuisances. Sticking to a diet, avoiding allergens or even just being eco-conscious or aware with your food choices can be difficult. So, we have compiled a small, yet useful, guide to keep you in check and cheerful spirits along the way.
1. From the get go, plan ahead
Check with your doctor:
If you have a history of bad reactions and you are planning to travel far, the first person to consult is the medical themselves. If your doctor then agrees that it is safe for you to travel, you can draw up a plan together regarding your diet and medication.
Book an appointment with your medic at the earliest convenience, preferably before you book the flight.
Something everyone needs, especially you. If your dietary requirement is life threatening you need to be sure that you will access to the best possible medical care with a means of paying for it. Make sure that your insurance provider is familiar with your condition and the preventative measures. This then means that you are covered or they can direct you to the right plan. Please note: If you fail to disclose your preexisting condition to your insurance provider, they can deny you cover, and nobody wants that.
Shop around and don’t skimp on this. Many people do get away with not having travel insurance, but for you… it’s not worth the risk to save a few quid.
Caution with flying:
Straight up avoid airplane food. It's normally not everyone's first choice, but it just shouldn't be a choice at all for you. At this point, stick to what you know and pack some snacks, better to be on the safe side.
Inform the flight attendants of your condition and even the airline in advance if it is so severe, so that they have put in place precautionary measures for you prior to boarding.
You can do this either when you book the flight or by ringing the relevant airline customer hotline, have your flight and passenger and flight details handy.
2. Know the lingo (or at least a bit)
It may seem like the most obvious advice in the world, but believe me, take it. I have once tried to explain what a nut is to a French man with just my hands, and trust me…wasn’t easy. I mean, you don’t have to know the full language for a relaxing weekend away, but learn the basic words i.e. the bare minimum so you can be understood.
Allergy action offers free downloadable flash cards and guides to keep you get by with all the necessary information.
If that fails… or if you’re just like me and are terrible at pronouncing everything… having a translate app or a dictionary really helps. You’d rather be 100% sure and let them see it in writing than risking the side effects.
If you don’t want all that fuss… no worries, there’s an app to do it for you: Allergic Traveler (you can download the free version, or pay to access more languages.
3. Be skeptical… ASK
When travelling you have to be aware of cultural differences. Veganism and Vegetarianism is something that maybe hasn’t entered the more traditional of communities. So, don’t be surprised or scared to explain exactly what your dietary requirement is. Even if you’re a fussy eater, being a blinded assumer will not work in your favour, and holidays are for relaxing.
You’ll be sick of it by the end of your holidays, but you don’t want to come back with a damaged sense of self or a bad reaction.
4. Do your research
A lot of countries won’t have many options and their cuisine may rely very heavily upon your allergen. In this case, your best bet is to look up online to see what options are available for you. Trust me on this, spending ages trailing around in the blazing sun looking for a restaurant is something that nobody wants to be doing on their well-deserved break.
Vegan or Vegetarian? Why not join the community on Happy cow and add and see contributions about Vegan and Vegetarian restaurants in the area?
Gluten-free? Download the Find Me Gluten Free to find a restaurant that can cater to your needs.
For more advice, you can also tailor your search on TripAdvisor to see more general opinions.
However, if your allergy is really severe, and not the pretty kind, you may need to arrange your own cuisine. In that case, you need to know how to get things there or what is available in the supermarkets. For advice on how to do so and what you can ship check with Parcel Hero.
5. Keep your wits about you
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean your allergy is. You may be having so much that you don’t even realise that allergy induced red mark on your arm. At this point you need to be relatively paranoid about any changes you see in your body. Especially following meals, sometimes reactions take a while to kick in and with intolerances you may not even realise until the next day. If you suspect anything inform someone and act on it.
It may be tasty but is it worth it? Don’t eat like a local. I mean it is tempting, after all, travelling is the ultimate excuse to taste the wine and culture. Take snacks to keep yourself level, especially in countries with hot weather.
6. Be up to date with medications
This may be relatively obvious… but make sure your prescriptions are up to date and keep them on you… even if it means taking a bigger bag. In case of an allergic reaction, you may not be able to get an epi-pen whilst your there, so making sure yours is in date is essential.
If you’re useless at remembering these things, you can easily set up alerts with Epipen for up to date reminders on the status of your epi-pen.
7. Have a good travel buddy
Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or a girl’s weekend away, it’s important that your travel buddies know the full extent of your allergies and intolerances. If crisis strikes, they can act quick and save you from some unnecessary pain. They can also guide you away from bad temptations and keep your travels clean, cheap and painless.
After all, they love you enough to travel with you…
8. Wear it with pride
For many allergens you can get wristbands or accessories that detail your condition without having to have it tattooed across your face. They may not be the trendiest of things, but who knows, it could save your life. Wear it like a badge of honour!
Why not shop for one at Mediband? With a great range of styles and catering to all ages and conditions, you really can wear your allergy or intolerance with pride.
Photo credit: Joanna Boj on Unsplash