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Traveling with a Food Allergy – Guest Post by Kyle Dine – CEO and Founder of Equal Eats
“I used to travel, before food allergies”. This is a statement I hear all too often. Once the food allergy diagnosis enters your life, it feels like a fire blanket snuffing out so many of the things you enjoyed before. It’s a gradual process of starting to grow your new comfort zone bit by bit.
Growing your Circle of Comfort
After getting comfortable dealing with schools, restaurants and relatives, international travel can be pretty low on the “to conquer” list. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I would argue that it’s one of the most empowering experiences that will provide more confidence in advocating for all of the other areas you encounter with food allergies. If you can conquer travelling with food allergies, what can’t you do?
The Two Keys: Preparation and Communication
There’s a lot that goes into safe food allergy travel. However, I believe most fall into two important categories: preparation and communication.
Preparation for Traveling with a Food Allergy
The EpiCenter App has a lot of helpful resources to help plan your trip in advance, and emergency features (including our translated emergency cards) to help during an allergic reaction. Check out their website/app!
My motto is that the more research I do in advance, the less is left up to surprise during the trip. I typically research:
- Airline policies
- Hotel – is the breakfast provided, or is there an onsite restaurant?
- Restrictions for bringing food into country
- Health insurance – am I covered for an anaphylactic emergency?
- Emergency number in that country
- Nearby hospitals
- National food labelling guidelines (e.g. what are their top allergens?)
Preparation: Bringing Your Own Food
I prepare a LOT of food. I typically have enough food for the entire door-to-door journey as I will never eat airline food. It’s just too risky at such heights. I also prepare a lot of dry food as “back-up” at my destination in the case I find it difficult to find safe food at grocery stores or when dining out.
This leads to the second important category for allergy-safe travel:
Communication of Food Allergies
Food allergies are global. No matter where you go, I still believe that chefs are willing to work with you, as long as you are transparent and clear about your food allergies or avoidances. However, there can often be a language barrier that makes this a bit complicated and clumsy, leaving room for error. This is why I started Equal Eats as I wanted to help people bridge these language gaps and ensure their restrictions are truly noted and understood. Our professional allergy translation cards aim to effectively communicate the right message, to the right person, in the right language.
Use Confidently: Wait Staff and Chefs Appreciate Allergy Cards
If you’ve never used a dietary card before – don’t worry! Staff truly want to please their guests and appreciate the card. You are making their job easier! A card makes it easier to have an exchange in a foreign country where you don’t need to stumble through their language hoping for the best. When you put it in writing, it provides a level of seriousness too.
Equal Eats offer allergy cards in 50 languages, which have been translated by professionals, and proofread by native speakers. We offer pre-set cards for 1 allergen/special diet, or fully customized allergy cards where you can choose from our vast database of 500 professionally translated allergens.
With proper preparation in advance, and communication during your trip, the world is truly your oyster. And yes, we do have a card for mollusc allergy to help with that. ☺