How to Travel With A Food Allergy


Above: Waterfront Urban Diner in Grand Cayman

I think it’s time for me to address an issue that has plagued me for my whole life, my dairy allergy. Growing up I was lactose intolerant but still ate diary because some foods are just worth the pain. As I’ve grown older, my intolerance has turned into a severe allergy which I unfortunately had the pleasure of learning the hard way. I never realized how much it would effect my ability to eat and travel (and eat while I travel) until I had to actually deal with it. Today I’m sharing some of my best tips and tricks for how to travel with a food allergy (and still enjoy yourself).

Napa City Guide, featuring Judd's Hill Winery. What to eat, drink, see, do, and where to stay in Napa, California

1. Know your allergy.
I hope this point is very clear, but you should know your allergy. While the severity of an allergic reaction can not always be predictable, knowing you have one and which ways it effects you will be a big help. I know that while I am severely allergic to dairy, I can have it in baked goods as long as it’s lower than the 5th ingredient and cooked for a certain length of time.

2. Planning ahead is essential.
Reach out to places ahead of time to notify them of your allergy, some will offer a spcial meal replacement. In addition to that, learn the language surrounding your allergy. I haven’t gone to too many countries that loathe speaking English, but recently on our trip to Paris I took the time to learn how to say that I am very allergic to dairy in French. For some of the smaller places we dined with older servers, it was a big help. Be sure to be very direct when you notify your server of your allergy. I’m always weary of ingredients in sauces and butter on breads especially!

Napa City Guide, featuring Judd's Hill Winery. What to eat, drink, see, do, and where to stay in Napa, California

3. Find a “safe” food and stick to it.
In Paris I ate 5 hamburgers for 5 of the days we were there. Why? I knew it was one of the safest things on the menu for me. If you have a favorite that you eat at home that is safe for you to eat, chances are that it will be pretty safe abroad as well. Always be sure to clarify ingredients with your server or the chef if you need to. Trust me when I say that they want you to have a reaction in their restaurant as little as you want to and should not be annoyed by any questions you may ask. If I feel like time is of the essence and my server knows the menu well, I will simply state my allergy, food preferences, and ask for recommendations.

Slow travel: The benefits of exploring with intention.

4. Hyper-local places are the best.
When it comes to finding a place to eat, usually the most allergy friendly places I find are hyper local to the area. They are the hip new cafe’s that mark ingredients on the menu so you don’t have to fumble around questions while you order. By asking around I found the BEST (in all caps, seriously the BEST) little vegan coffee shop in Pairs. Not only could I get a delicious almond-milk latte, but they had vegan croissants. Let me say that again, vegan croissants. And they were so delicious I ate two with absolutely no guilt.

5. Pack your own food.
Since I a a mom, I am absolutely no stranger to bringing along snacks when I travel, but since my allergy has become an issue I started packing more of my own. I recently came across Rx Bars and fell in love. The sea salt chocolate is my absolute favorite, and not only does it fill you up, it tastes like a total dream.

Do you have a food allergy? How do you deal with it when eating on the go?

8 thoughts on “How to Travel With A Food Allergy

  1. Oh maaaan can I relate to this. I have a dairy intolerance and I’m allergic to eggs. (I also eat a whole foods plant based diet.) Generally travelling while eating is fine, if I plan ahead, but it can be a huge pain if I get stuck somewhere I’m unfamiliar with. I always keep snacks in my bag when travelling to keep the food rage at bay!

  2. Hi Jessica,
    Thank you for this post and your whole blog, I love it. I am going to Paris in june with my vegan husband and would love the name of the café you mentioned, going to Paris without eating croissants just seems wrong.
    Once again, thank you for for your blog!

  3. oh gosh I was just discussing this with a friend – her sister has one and it is a struggle, considering people put dairy in things you wouldn’t expect, like milk in eggs!! so crazy. I’m glad people are becoming more away of things like this <3
    lauren | lments of style

  4. This is helpful; I just recently found out I have a gluten sensitivity. We’ll be going to Solvang soon (which is actually how I found your lovely site) and I’m curious how I’ll survive amongst the Danish bakeries!

  5. Wow this is such a great read and so relatable! I am newly gluten free and have a sensitivity to dairy as well. I always find traveling so difficult. Thank you for sharing.

    xo,
    Steph
    @trendyinindy || trendyinindy.com

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