There are a few times in my life when I’ve gone somewhere thinking there would be food for me to eat and by the end of the night I’m left hungry, sad, and feeling alone. And it’s silly because this is something that can be completely avoided – by bringing food along. But hey, we all make mistakes, right?
Well I’m happy to say I’ve learned my lesson and whenever there is a full day ahead of me I bring a plethora of snacks.
But what happens where there’s a no food allowed policy? I know this has happened to many of us, we hit a dilemma: sneak food in or don’t bring food.
I refuse to sit with those options. I’m the kind of girl that looks at a problem as a challenge to be overcome. And this is exactly that: a challenge.
How to Bring Food Anywhere
While writing that headline felt a little silly, I know it’s a question many of us ask ourselves when approaching an establishment that forbids food. But still, to write it on paper is different than saying it.
Nonetheless, I’ve become the queen of doing this and want to share my tips with you. No shame in my food game.
1. Bring a doctor’s note that stipulates the severity of your food allergy.
If possible, ask your doctor to write that due to the severity of the allergies, personal food items are a necessity and should be considered medical equipment. Whenever you are faced with a situation in which food is prohibited, you can try using this letter. I’m not going to guarantee that it will work, but it doesn’t hurt. That’s for sure.
2. Don’t get upset when explaining your needs.
The saying, “ you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” couldn’t hold truer than in this situation. Oftentimes people will react empathetically to your situation if you take your time to explain it nicely. If you’re hostile or rushing the gatekeeper, they will be less inclined to bend the rules for you.
3. Ask to keep your bag at the reception or in a locker.
During the times you are sightseeing for hours on end and need to simply have food in your bag, going into museums or monuments can prove problematic. But oftentimes, this can be easily overcome by asking to leave your bag of goodies at the front desk, in a locker, or at a coat check.
This exact situation presented itself to me at the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal has a strict policy against bringing food, paper, pens, and many other items into the complex. This was an issue for me as it was the first stop in a day packed with activities. And India doesn’t offer much to me in the way of food.
So what did I do? I asked if I could leave it with them at the ticketing counter. Not an option. Then I asked if they had lockers.
Jackpot. They have lockers for visitors to keep their prohibited items until they leave.
This solution made my day exponentially easier. But had I not asked that targeted question, I would’ve had to either throw out my food or not enter. Or do my best with tip number 4.
4. Conceal it well.
This tip makes me a little uneasy and you shouldn’t take this piece of advice incorrectly. I’m not talking about a 2 hour movie or concert – that you can last without bringing food into. But there are certain times when you’re sightseeing and unable to return to your hotel for hours on end, and therefore need to carry your food with you.
That doesn’t mean you should open it up in a prohibited location and start chomping away. No. It means that you might need to just have it in your bag, unopened.
To do this, you will need to conceal your food well. You can wrap it in a towel or push it deep into the bottom of your bag. You should also put it into multiple places, so if one item gets taken you will still have more.
Another reason you may need to conceal it well is due to animals. This might sound more like a camping hack, but I assure you – you might need to preemptively think about this one. For example:
When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia I decided to tour Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is an incredible complex of temples and takes hours to see. It also has an incredible amount of monkeys. Hungry, angry monkeys.
Before getting picked up by my TukTuk driver, I was told not to bring food as it will attract the angry monkeys. So I was put into a dilemma: do I forgo food for the next 7-8 hours or do I bring something concealed?
I was torn. This is the largest religious monument in the world and I certainly didn’t want it to be the place I get attacked by monkeys. But I did want to eat food. The visit started at 4:45 am and went well into the afternoon. There was no way I could go sans food.
In the end, I threw a few sandwiches and granola bars into my bag (please excuse this terrible photo).
I wrapped them in double plastic wrap, put them into a plastic bag, then into a small towel – both to conceal the food and the smell.
I kept my eyes peeled and tried to walk as far away from the monkeys as I could. Later I learned it’s best to just ignore them and avoid eye contact if they’re nearby. Luckily they didn’t bother me, and I was able to eat my food in the afternoon while my friends ate at a restaurant.
5. Ask ahead of time and explain your situation.
Many places have a “no food allowed policy,” but if you explain your situation they will often bend their rules. The easiest way to do this is by alerting them of your arrival beforehand. This gives them the opportunity to alert the staff or ask the decision makers to make an exception. Oftentimes they will oblige you.
Nothing is a Guarantee, But it’s Worth A Shot
These tips are my own and have worked for me in the past. While I can’t guarantee they will work for you, they are definitely a good start. And I’m sure there are ideas out there that I have yet to think of. If you have other ideas or ways you get around this issue, please feel free to share them via the comment box below.