Before one of the first international trips I took, my mom sat me down and said to me in all seriousness, I have a movie you need to watch before you go.
A movie? Ok…
The movie was Taken.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it basically goes something like this:
A former CIA operative’s daughter goes to France with her BFF. On their first day abroad, they are kidnapped. The rest of the movie shows how he gets his daughter home.
Now, with that being said, I think many mothers have this image of traveling as dangerous.
Who will you meet? How will you get around? How will you find a place to sleep? To eat? To stay safe? Stay safe.
These are the words out of most mothers (I assume). But for a parent whose kid has food allergies, there is another layer of worry.
How & what will you eat? Do you have any tips to eating abroad?
These are questions I have gotten many-a-time from many-a-parent.
And I’ll be the first to admit it: it’s not easy. But in the same way that I keep myself safe while traveling in order to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation, I do my best to keep myself safe while eating.
Top 3 tips to eating abroad with food allergies:
1. Get the translation beforehand.
Whether that means using google translate, asking the flight attendant, or the hotel clerk, it is critical you find out how to properly explain your situation to people.
And if you can’t use your words because the accent is too difficult for you to mimc, no worries! Get it in writing (allergy cards, people. Allergy cards.) and show it to your server, compare it to the label you’re looking at, or have that flight attendant, hotel clerk, or local record it for you on your phone. That way you can just press play and voila! Safety.
2. When in doubt, throw it out
Any traveler knows that saving money is the name of the game. But for someone with allergies, it isn’t always easy. You might buy that dollar snack and then open it up to find something inside that makes you a little uneasy.
It’s ok to throw it out! If your gut is telling you to toss it and buy something else. Listen! It is always more important to eat safely than it is to save a buck or two.
I know you’re on vacation and cooking isn’t exactly part of vacationing, but it can be necessary. If you’re in a city that isn’t particularly tourist-friendly, or allergy-safe, cook! Buy yourself a pan, a few ingredients and make whatever your little heart desires. Or opt for cook-free meals (like a sandwich or salad). Almost all Airbnbs and hostels have kitchens, and most hotels are extremely accommodating as well.
And while my answers didn’t exactly calm my mother, they did give her enough confidence to let me travel. I have since traveled to different cities around the world that speak all different languages, and always stick to those three tips.