4 ways to manage your allergies abroad

By / Food / January 14th, 2020 / 17
Travelling with allergies

Navigating foreign lands and languages is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Add dodging certain ingredients to your mental to-do list and that could be enough to reconsider your trip abroad. Fear not fellow allergy-having travellers below is a list of ways you can stay safe without feeling FOMO for food culture.

Look up how to say your allergy in the local language

It may sound simple, but try to master saying “no dairy”, or “gluten free” in the country’s native dialect. If they can understand you, people generally want to help and may even surprise you with the lengths they take to accommodate.

The phone background trick

Especially if your allergy is life threatening, you don’t want to take any chances. Take a screenshot of the nut free symbol or a translation of your restriction to make it your phone background. That way you can easily flash your screen to your server to avoid the confusion and time explanations sometimes take.

Befriend locals

If you’ve had your food restriction for a while, you probably already know that most are willing to be flexible. But even if you’ve been practicing pronouncing your allergy for weeks, things get lost in translation. Local friends are not only more likely to show you establishments off the beaten track, they can also translate. This can be especially helpful if you have been sticking to one or two staple foods that you know you can eat. This way, you can be sure your dish will be free from contamination, and you may get to try something new.

Google is your friend

While your travel daydreams may have included wandering foreign streets and following your nose to whichever eateries call to you, allergies might solicit a bit more structure abroad. It sounds obvious to say Google it, but it really does help to be aware of your options and what is around you. It’s all about striking a balance between having a plan and being flexible.

Stay safe dear travellers. And don’t let the headache of dietary obstacles keep you from adventuring on.


Natalie Pressman is a freelance journalist based out of Toronto. She enjoys arguing loudly about oxford comas, and almost always has snacks. You can find her on twitter at @natpressman.

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