Post # 1
Hi Bees! I haven’t been around in awhile but I was hoping someone would have some advice for a travel issue I am facing.
I want to plan an exciting (and hopefully somewhat exotic!) trip for my DH’s upcoming big milestone birthday! However, he was recently within the past couple years developed a serious food allergy that has made life and travel very difficult. It is not a life threatening allergy, but it causes almost immediate explosive diarrhea (sorry, TMI!) and very painful stomach cramps that can last a few days. Obviously, this would be awful to deal with in general, especially on vacation!!
The really tricky part is that his allergy is to something sooooo common in basically every cuisine, so it is almost impossible to avoid. He is fine with contact (if something is cooked on the same stove but wiped off, that is fine), he just can’t ingest even the smallest amount of the food. I don’t want to name the actual allergy, because it is pretty rare and might identify him. For example, if you were allergic to salt…you could ask that restaurants not use salt in your meals, but many restaurants can’t do that at all because everything is pre-prepared or seasoned with salt. He would be left with just basic, bland meals if the restaurant is even willing to accommodate him….and he has had some bad experiences where restaurants don’t take him seriously or just forget that something as simple as a chicken stock that they use in their soup already has salt in it! His allergy is not to salt, but something else very common.
This has caused a lot of unhappiness for him, because he used to enjoy food with a passion and now he is very limited in what he can eat without horrible side effects. Again, nothing deadly, but it has still been very life-altering. We very rarely go out for meals now, and cook at home almost exclusively. He really enjoys cooking, so that’s a plus! But we do miss date nights at restaurants. He has found some things that are typically safe, and restaurants that can accommodate him. But during travel, it is hard to find places he can trust and it causes him a lot of anxiety!
He has made comments before about never being able to travel outside the US again….and part of me selfishly resents that we won’t be able to travel abroad to places we have dreamed of going to. I am hoping that we can learn some coping mechanisms that would help him feel more comfortable with the idea of travel outside the US. But of course, I don’t want to worsen his feelings on this. We have several months before his birthday, so I am trying to decide how to approach him with the idea (and whether or not I should at all), and trying to come up with ideas to make him comfortable traveling with his allergy.
Please give me any advice you have or your own experiences traveling with a food allergy! Thank you in advance!
Post # 2
You can totally travel. My son is allergic to milk and it’s not stopped us.
Come to the UK or Europe. We have some strict food labelling laws here and in the UK at least restaurants are obliged to make allergic information available (most on their websites so you can see ahead of time if something has an allergen in it)
Post # 3
aae37 : is it possible to book airbnbs or apartment rentals so that you can continue to cook your own food even on vacation? I know it’s not as fun as restaurant hopping but at least he’d be able to eat without anxiety.
Post # 4
This sounds stressful, but I think this is just something to consider when eating out, not a travelling issue. The Uk and EU are actually much stricter about labelling food and food allergies so I don’t think it is a case of never being able to never leave the US. Obviously it gets harder with a language barrier but here are many counties you can visit with lots of history and culture but it will be easier to communicate with the restaurant about his allergy.
Post # 5
aae37 : What is his intolerance/allergy? That helps to give some suggestions really
Post # 6
I would consider going to places where you can grocery shop and prepare some of your meals and where there are a few places (like fast food or chains) that you can use as a safe haven for when you’re out and about. Darling Husband has digestive issues and when we went to Europe, we’d prep food or eat at McDonalds, Starbucks or something similar where we could use kiosks/apps and custom order our food. We also had a few meals out knowing that there could be issues the next day. It’s definitely do-able but if the allergy is like salt, you might stick to English places like Canada, UK, Scotland and Ireland first before venturing out and then to places where the ingredient is less likely to be used. Explaining a food allergy in another language is a pain – especially when the food is something commonly used in their cooking. Also, be prepared to have anywhere from one to a few days that are disrupted – I’ve yet to go on vacation with Darling Husband, where there wasn’t a least one day in which he had gut issues.
Post # 7
I have celiac disease and travel in Europe is a breeze. I live in the US and haven’t been to other continents, so I can’t speak to those. As PPs have mentioned, food labeling is quite good in Europe and the UK. My advice is to learn how to explain the allergy in the language of the country you’re visiting. Also google restaurants ahead of time.
Post # 8
It will be difficult but not impossible. I have IBS and MANY food intolerances, from onion to garlic, fried foods, oil, etc. When I go on vacation I stock up on Imodium and pepto bismol. These help a lot since it’s hard to completely avoid my trigger foods. Doing research in advance helps a lot. I usually bring with me some calorie-dense safe foods like energy bars so I can have a quick and safe meal/snack when I need it. I have had episodes regardless of my planning (diarrhea at the eiffel tower… not my best memory of paris) but that doesn’t stop me from travelling.
Edited to add: I also agree with PP suggesting eating at places you’re familiar with like Starbucks/McDonalds, etc.. people will make fun of tourists for eating there rather than “authentic foods”, but for me, knowing that I have somewhere with a safe meal option makes me feel loads better.
Post # 9
I myself have many allergies, one of them life threatening. The most important thing for me is that I always always always have medicine on me. Yes, some foods have hidden components in them that may cause a reaction. It’s a rare occurence though so I’m not paranoid and if something does happen… Well it happens. Difficult things happen sometimes for no reason. I however have had a long time to come to understand that.
If there ‘s no suitable medicine for him to carry and you guys want to be cautious, rent an apartment or an airbnb with a kitchen. Depends of course what your destination is but there are usually loads available in larger areas. And like a pp mentioned, learn your allergens in that particular language.
Also, I don’t think there’s any allergies out there that are so unique that you’d recognize someone by it.
Post # 10
OP, you would be surprised to learn how many people have allergies and/or sensitivities (yes, there is a serious difference between the two). I know people with an allergy to fruit pollen who basically cannot eat any raw fruit. Otherwise, there are commonly allergies to wheat/gluten, allium (onions, garlic), shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, lactose, citrus, strawberries, bananas, spices, sesame seeds, chocolate, MSG, soy, eggs. I have even known people who don’t have the proper enzymes to digest meat.
In other words, I guarantee that a LOT of other people have the same allergy or sensitivity as your Dh, and naming it will not identify him. But, naming it will probably allow many people here to better help or guide you and give you helpful hints.
Post # 11
i dont think your going to get the best answers if not willing to disclose this so called super rare allergy. Naming his allergy isnt going to identify him IMO, many people have rare allergies….
Post # 12
I have a serious food intolerance which usually requires a mobile intensive care ambulance and a trip to hospital and I have never ever let it stop me from travelling. We even did a repositioning cruise from Australia to Hawaii knowing that I would have to be airlifted out if it occurred.
My suggestions would be to hire a villa and if you don’t want to cook then hire a staffed villa with a chef. This is pretty common in Asia (Thailand, Bali) and then you can control what you are eating. Or take a cruise and if you can afford it go for one of the more expensive cruiselines. I have sailed on a few different ones from budget to luxury and all were very receptive to food allergies/intolerances but the quality of the special meals was way better on the luxury lines (windstar, silver seas). Or hire your own crewed bare boat yatch. We did a non crewed on the great barrier reef this year and if you were paying in US$ Or £ or € then you would consider it cheap.
I would also talk to his doctor about what he can do to mitigate the circumstances. For example should he take something like gastro stop before eating out or another medication they suggest. aae37 :
Post # 13
I’m gluten free (actually needing to be, not a fad diet) and I travel internationally every other year. I carry cards in the language of the country I’m going to explaining what I cannot eat just in case, I bring A LOT of snacks in my suitcase for bad situations, and I make sure to learn a few necessary and basic phrases. I’ve found most of Europe to be far more understanding of my issue than a lot of the US and they take it far more seriously
Post # 14
- Wedding: September 2019 - Beverly Hills, CA
Agree with some others, it’s pretty difficult for anyone to give advice that isn’t super general if you won’t say what the allergy is.
Post # 15
I live in a developing country.
One colleague has a severe shellfish allergy and a lot of stock cubes here contain shell fish. If going out to eat, she always orders meat even though she likes fish, because the chances of cross conamination are smaller with meat, and she tells the waiter that if she eats shellfish, even if it’s just from the stockcube, she’ll have to go to hospital. In around 10 years here she’s not had any major incidents.
My work also had a visitor who was allergic to all sort of things including onions and garlic, which are also staples in the cooking here. She ended up mostly doing her own cooking/being cooked for by expat colleagues, rather than risking the restaurants.
As others have said, it’s hard to provide specific advice without knowing the allergy but there are ways around. The idea of staying at a villa and hiring a chef would work where I live – then you can explain what you can’t eat and they will work around it.