8 Travel Tips for Enjoying Food Even with Dietary Restrictions
Travelling can be challenging, especially for those who need to be mindful of what they eat. After all, exploring the local cuisine is a big part of the travel experience. But even if you need to consider the restrictions on your diet, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your much-awaited getaway. Whether you have allergies, preferences, or food intolerances, it’s still possible for you to have a stress-free gastronomic adventure.
As long as you know how to manage your dietary restrictions, there’s no need to stress out. To help you out on your next vacation, here are a few tips on how to have an enjoyable dining experience even with your dietary limits.
Do Your Research First
Diets can vary even among neighboring regions. Before going on your trip, do a quick web search to get a grasp of the local cuisine. While it’s true that restaurants have their own unique selections, doing your research beforehand will give you an overview of an area’s typical menu. For example, some countries’ local cuisine may rely heavily on food items like pork, which may be off-limits for some travelers.
Checking social media groups, apps, and other websites can also help you gain insight into the restaurants and eateries that suit your diet. Tools like the Muslim Pro app, for example, allow Muslim travelers to identify nearby halal restaurants. There’s also the Muslim Pro app Facebook page, where Muslims can easily connect with a like-minded, faith-based community that can answer food-related queries.
Pick Hotels with Kitchens and other Available Adjustments
When choosing your accommodation, it’s best to book one with a kitchen or other amenities for basic meal-making. These amenities can include a fridge, a microwave, an electric kettle, and utensils. Homestays and hostels usually offer a wider range of kitchen amenities, but some hotels and condotels can provide ample kitchen access.
Besides kitchen provisions, your hotel should also accommodate changes in the menu to suit your dietary needs. If your accommodation offers free breakfast or room service, coordinate with them ahead of time to see if they can provide alternatives to their menu.
Mind what You Eat on the Flight
Traveling via plane can be a burden for some travelers since food and refreshments are limited to what is on board. Having a severe reaction to food while up in the air is not ideal, either. When booking your flight, make sure to communicate your needs to the airline ahead of time to check if they offer other options to suit your diet. Asking them at the last minute may make it difficult for them to accommodate your request.
Pack Your Snacks and Meds
The food options at the airport or on the road can also be quite limited, leaving your stomach grumbling as you sit for hours. Bringing diet-compliant snacks is a sure way to stave off hunger and keep you from getting “hangry”. However, some countries and regions may not allow travelers to bring in food such as veggies and fruits. Consider packing non-perishable items or check out recipes for travel-friendly meals. It would also be wise to do your research first on restricted items when crossing borders.
Medication and necessary medical equipment are other items that you should never disregard, especially if you have allergies and other health issues. Always bring them with you wherever you go, preferably in carry-on luggage if you’re traveling abroad.
Inform the Chef of Your Needs
Even if you’re dining in a restaurant that offers your preferred menu items, it still wouldn’t hurt to inform the kitchen staff of your special dietary requirements. Consider calling the restaurant beforehand to ensure that your food-related needs can be met. You can also bring pictures of food to avoid if you don’t speak the language, as visuals can facilitate your communication.
Find a Way to Communicate with the Locals
Going to another country doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to complete a whole language course to better communicate with the locals. Take the time to learn basic phrases, especially the ones that relate to your dietary restrictions.
To avoid miscommunication, you can prepare a card detailing all your food restrictions in your destination country’s language. Check out websites and tools that allow you to accurately translate phrases and sentences into other languages and print them out on cards.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
Emergencies are never entirely unavoidable, so you should always be prepared for the worst. If you have a severe health condition, bring your doctor’s note and other relevant paperwork. It would also help to know local emergency hotlines and identify nearby hospitals or care centers.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Lastly, you should make sure that your dietary limitations don’t stop you from having fun. As long as you come prepared, you don’t have to get anxious about what goes into your body. It’s your vacation, and the most important thing to do is to kick back, relax and savor the flavors as much as you can.
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