As someone with severe food allergies, the travel risks I take are calculated. I dine out but I choose where based on the safest options and years of experience. There are also some simple risks I avoid that help for safer travel. Below are my top five risks to avoid when traveling with food allergies.
Risk #1: Packing foods and cosmetics you’ve never tried
Why ask for trouble, right? It’s pretty typical to buy travel sized products and snacks to pack. When I do this, I only choose foods and products that I know I’ve already had success with. I will not try something new before I travel. If on the off chance I do decide to, which is rare but possible, I will ALWAYS try it before I pack it.
Risk #2: Dining at the airport
Those of us with food allergies are always packing food, but just because you will be at the airport for a few hours before your flight, does not mean that you should risk dining at a restaurant there. Often there are ways to avoid airport food and I suggest doing this at all costs. Restaurants at the airport are not organized the same way that they are outside. Some restaurants share kitchens with others or access food from different areas of the airport. I’ve never found it to be a worthwhile risk, so I always plan ahead.
Risk #3: Eating airline food
Lianne from No Nut Traveler and I share about this at least once a week (pre-Covid) when someone complains about the airline not having a safe meal. Airlines at this point are not equipped to serve us safely, so why consider it and complain about it at that? It is way too risky. Eating airline food is a definite no, in my opinion. Bring your food and don’t expect the airline to cater safely to food allergies, yet. We can hope for the future, but it is a major risk at this point. They don’t get it yet. I hope I can help change that for the future traveler. I’ll let you know if it ever becomes safe!
Risk #4: Trying street food
Almost guaranteed this is a risky choice. Not just because they have very little prep space in their carts or trucks, so cross contact is high, but also because depending on where and what, they may not realize how the food was prepped earlier that day. This is not to say that it can’t be done, however if you are considering it, go with a local guide who clearly understands food allergies and cross contact. It is not something to try on your own!
Risk #5: Bakeries
Bakeries are not something I risk in the U.S. (outside of the occasional allergy-friendly ones that have popped up) and they are definitely not something I consider risking in other countries. The only time I’ve been able to safely eat from a bakery while traveling was in Madrid, Spain at an allergen-friendly bakery. They were incredible and I felt very safe with this experience. I hope to find more of these rare gems to share with you, but for now, unless they are specifically catered to allergies, I would strictly avoid bakery items.
Make sure to keep these risks in mind the next time you find yourself traveling!