Food Allergies and Travel

It’s not easy traveling to countries where you don’t speak the language when you have food allergies. I’m, unfortunately, allergic to every type of nut in existence, with effects varying between an itchy mouth to anaphylactic shock that could lead to death if not treated.

Over the years I’ve had some pretty close calls. So I’ve developed a few strategies to ensuring I don’t die a to a nut in a foreign country. Hopefully it’ll help you too:

  • Whatever it is you’re allergic to, have it written down (“no milk!”, “no peanuts!” etc.) in the language of the  country you’re in. Show it to the waiter and wait until you get an affirmative signal. If you don’t, ask for another waiter to read it. It’s a little awkward but I haven’t found a restaurant anywhere in the world that wasn’t totally understanding of food allergies.
  •  Carry medication with you, always! If you’re traveling with someone, even temporarily, ask them to carry some too. I can’t tell you how often I forgot my medication only to have a friend swoop in to save the day.
  • Have something that will help you throw up. Sounds gross? Yep! But if it keeps you from having a total physical meltdown it’s definitely worth it. My go to application is a toothbrush in a travel toothbrush container to keep it sanitary (and distinguished from my real toothbrush).
  • If you can, check up on the food you’re going to eat beforehand. Even for street food, a quick search through google (India + Street Food + Nuts / Seafood / Milk) will quickly show you what foods you should absolutely avoid.