08 Apr The Foolproof Guide to Traveling With Food Intolerances
Traveling carries its own set of risks, but it gets much trickier when you suffer from any food intolerances or allergies. If you struggle with a particular food or foods, you’re certainly not alone–over 78 million Americans are right there with you. Don’t have to give up your business travel plans or forego those vacations! Good news: You can still plan a safe, enjoyable trip if you take the right precautions.
Eight big culprits are to blame for a glaring 90% of allergies in America: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. These intolerances can range from very mild to very severe, but any food issue beyond the occasional overeating bloat will no doubt likely to screw up your travel agenda unless you plan carefully.
Business or pleasure?–If you’re not traveling for business, choose your trip wisely. For example, Italy (believe it or not) has been praised for its safety for people with celiac disease. In contrast, Thailand might not be an ideal location for a peanut allergy sufferer; the legume sneaks into nearly every traditional Thai dish, including soups. If your allergies aren’t too severe, consider making it work where you’re going, and proceed with caution. However, some locations just make more sense than others when you need accommodations.
Learn the lingo–If you’re heading to a country whose people speak a foreign language, learn what ingredients translate to in different languages so that you’ll have a basic concept of what to avoid when you’re grocery shopping. Restaurants get a lot more tricky, though: Dining cards will become your new best friend.
Pack your supplements–What to bring along depends greatly on your food intolerances. For allergies that send you into shock, safely stash an EpiPen. For gluten or lactose intolerance, probiotic supplements and digestive enzymes can make a big difference. And when you’re skin gets irritated, antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin will help calm a flare-up. Know what to take, write up a good list in advance, and take extra. While you’re at it, pack all of the scripts you take on a regular basis. Make sure you keep them with you, not in an overhead compartment.
Honey, not vinegar–It does take extra work to manage special dietary needs in restaurants, so always be kind; show special appreciation when a restaurant really tries to meet your needs.
Contact the airline–Talk to the airline folks a day or two in advance to let them know you’re on your way. Or ask your trusty travel manager to speak on your behalf. Pack some snacks just in case something happens; you don’t want to be starving after a long flight delay.
Reality bites–Take a quick look (or whiff) before you lift your fork just to make sure you don’t see any red flags. For example, if you’re suffering from a corn allergy and notice that there’s something crunchy on top of your southwest salad, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In fact, never be afraid to ask and never feel guilty. You’re just doing what you have to to stay healthy and enjoy your trip.
Know the right questions–Unfortunately for those suffering from the more severe allergies, just knowing that something doesn’t contain any of the offending ingredients doesn’t quite cut it. USA Today offers excellent ideas for the nitty gritty questions that matter.
For example, if you’re completely dairy-free, you should consider asking: “Does the marinara sauce have Parmesan cheese? Is the steak finished off with butter? Do you add milk to your omelets? Can oil be used instead of butter to sauté green beans?”
Please pass the apps–For a quick guide to restaurants near you, pull out your smartphone. Apps like Allergy Eats, YoDish, and SafeEats let you add your restrictions as they find you some tasty nearby fare.
If you need business travel management that won’t give you a rash, we’d be glad to help you with that, too! We’ve managed over 11 million traveler nights for businesses nationwide and clients just like you. Call us today at 888-852-5100 to book a better business trip.