Christina P. Kantzavelos
1. Plan, plan, plan
Planning ahead helps to relieve travel-related stress. Research the cuisine of your destination to find out what is readily available and accommodates your dietary requirements. Use travel blogs, local associations, and free apps like Find Me Gluten Free as resources.
2. Airline and accommodation requests
You can request special meals on most international flights, though packing snacks and a backup meal is always a good idea. If you have a peanut allergy, inform the airline ahead of time so they do not serve peanuts on the flight. Also, contact your hotel, B&B, hostel, or resort before you arrive to see if they cater to your food restrictions. You might be pleasantly surprised.
3. Allergy translation cards
Allergy translation cards help list your food restrictions in terms the person reading it will comprehend. Learn a few key words in the local language by using a free app like Duolingo to get started.
4. Supplements, medications, and toiletries
In addition to your usual allergen-friendly toiletries, bring anything that helps mitigate exposure stress such as EpiPens, charcoal, anti-histamines, etc. Pack a few days’ worth of extra medication and supplements in case your flight is delayed, and always carry it on. You wouldn’t want those getting delayed or lost.
5. Grocery shopping/private kitchens
Purchase whole food items, such as meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds from the local grocery store for cooking or snacking. If you have access to a private kitchen, clean the area thoroughly, and bring your own cooking utensils as an extra precaution.
6. Carry food staples
Carry on-the-go snacks and food to maintain a healthy caloric intake. In addition, keep small condiments with you can to spruce up any bland dish.
7. Travelers insurance
This is great to have for support and backup, as it covers hospital stays and premature departures. Generally, there is also a 24/7 nurses line.
8. Reusable toaster bags
This is a wonderful invention that helps keep your food free from contamination in shared toasters and grills.
9. Gluten detectors
Thanks to citizen science, there are portable tech devices that can test for anything over 20 PPM of gluten. Peanut sensors are also available.
Anxiety is not a great travel companion, especially when experiencing a reaction. Meditation can help you to focus on your breath and stay calm.
Christina P. Kantzavelos, LCSW, BuenQamino, [email protected]