Above and Abroad with Food Allergies
Traveling is so much fun, you get to visit new places, experience new climates, cultures, and to some the most important part, food. However, for those with food allergies, traveling can be a huge stressor and can even take a lot of fun out of the trip. This can be an even bigger problem if you don’t speak the language of the place you’re visiting or if there aren’t a lot of food options. I’ve found a couple of resources that have helped me a lot with these issues and have made traveling so much easier.
The first one I would recommend is Spokin. Spokin is a free downloadable app that acts as a general guide to pretty much most food-related things. Especially if you’re traveling to a LARGER city or state in the US, they usually have a guide with recommendations for allergy-friendly restaurants, hotels, and things to do while you’re in the city, and make everything a lot easier. Also on Spokin, you can look up certain foods and see others reviews on the food, sort of like a food allergy Yelp. I also use Spokin when I’m not traveling to look up whether or not other people with my allergies have had good experiences with a restaurant nearby or even just a snack food I haven’t tried yet. If you’re looking for a broader and more general guide to food when it comes to travel, Spokin is a great place to start.
The next one is a more well-known source, but a surprising amount of people don’t know it exists. The FARE website has a really helpful section on traveling with food allergies, and while it would be especially helpful to someone new to the food allergy community, even I still find helpful things on there. The site mostly consists of tips and tricks, but there are also a few lists of food-allergy friendly airlines and their policies which does change from time to time, so it’s helpful to check out. Secondly, I do know I have mentioned this before, but I cannot stress the importance of the use of FARE’s food allergy cards. You can translate them into different languages and customize them with your allergens and overall they have been a huge lifesaver for me. These cards do a great job of explaining your allergens to any chef, waiter, or host regardless of understanding or language and they have made it so easy for me to both see if a restaurant is safe, but also to make the people preparing my food understand how serious my allergens are and how they can safely prepare them.
Lastly, finding a network! When I was younger my mom food a group on Facebook for people with sesame allergies and with it she was able to find all sorts of foods that I both could and could not eat, and ask for restaurant recommendations directly from those who experience the same thing I do on a day to day basis. However, I for one am not on Facebook, but I have heard of some groups on other social media platforms with communities like this, which are a big help.
Overall, travel doesn’t have to be as hard as everyone thinks and as long as you’re prepared, everything will be great and it will be a safe and wonderful trip!