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  • Writer's pictureAmanda MacGregor

Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

While it is exciting to get a break from your normal routine, there is one aspect of your life you won't be able to get a break from and that is your food allergies. That is why we must plan for our restrictions accordingly, especially when traveling and dining out with food allergies. We have a series of tips we live by and want to share with you!

Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor

Here are some tips we follow for traveling and dining out with food allergies

Plan ahead + bring your own food for the day!

You don't want to get yourself so hungry, that you make bad food decisions. Pack snacks and drinks to have for yourself throughout the day. We also highly suggest doing your research before your trip and locating safe restaurants or food establishments to can dine at. Weeks prior to any of our trips, we send emails or call places beforehand.

There has been times we are amazed by the response of a restaurant, both good and bad. In our experience, we usually gear towards Italian restaurants first when traveling as they would typically have salmon on the menu and olive oil in the kitchen. However, never assume! We have spoken to many "Italian" restaurants that don't even use olive oil at all. This is why we always reach out ahead of time.
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor - Walt Disney World Food allergy friendly dish

Speak clearly about your restrictions!

It is common to be scared or have anxiety when it comes to explaining your food allergies. It happens to me very often. If you are eating out and there is nothing on the menu you see you can have, talk to the waiter. The chefs of the restaurant may be trained to handle food restrictions and can create a unique and safe dish for you. However, if you feel unsure, don't eat it!

It may also be helpful to have your Equal Eats food allergy ID card with you. I bring mine everywhere to ensure there is clear communication about what I cannot eat.

I typically experience this type of service when visiting theme parks. Disney is very good at handling food allergies, especially the sit-down service restaurants. I have also experienced this type of service at selected Universal's City Walk restaurants. Not only did it make me feel safe, but it showed the Chef cared about the preparation for my dish. I didn't feel like a burden to them.

Dine out at "off-peak" times!

A packed restaurant can be difficult when you are explaining your restrictions. "WHAT DID YOU SAY?" Schedule to have your dinner before or after the typical dinner rush time. This can assure that your waiter can hear you clearly when you are telling them what you can and cannot have and will leave you peace of mind that the kitchen isn't handling too many dishes at once.

Not only is it more reassuring that your food is safe, but it is a much better experience with a calmer atmosphere. Much more relaxing when trying to vacation. PLUS, you can take advantage of exploring more with less people around during dinner time!
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor
*This photo was taken pre-nightshade allergy

Order your dish plain and just add your own dressings.

I always bring a little bottle of sea salt and dressing with me. You can also pack olive oil, a lemon, or your own toppings in your bag and order plain.

This is a trick I learned from my mom who would pack a small cooler with safe foods everywhere we went when I was growing up. Now I do it for myself. About 99% of the time, the wait staff won't say anything to you about it. If they do, simply explain it is for medical purposes.
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor - hotel eating
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor - hotel eating

Book a hotel room that has a kitchen!

I know it is a vacation, and cooking really isn’t the ideal thing you will want to do while you are away. However, it is the safest option to control your food surroundings and avoid unwanted allergic reactions during your trip. If you don't want to spend every day cooking, dedicate one day of the trip to prep meals for the week.

It may be a pain, but it can also be fun to explore the local food markets and stores. We always end up finding something we would not typically find at our own markets back at home.
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor - airplanes

Wipe down everything!

For the most part, airlines have been getting better with cleaning between flights. Even with that security, I still advise wiping down your seat and screen when boarding. Do the same once you get to your hotel room as well.

Not only do I clean everything I am about to sit in, but I wash my hands frequently too! Which reminds me, make sure to pack hand lotion. Your eczema will thank you later.
Tips for Traveling and Dining Out with Food Allergies - Amanda MacGregor

Remember to always, ALWAYS, have your epi-pen or rescue medicine with you!

I tend to look like the craziest tourist when out and about with my big bookbag. It is filled with emergency medicine, lotion, snacks, and water bottles. It is always better to be safe than sorry, or hungry and thirsty!

We hope you have an adventurous and safe trip or a deliciously safe dinner out!

Hugs and Cookies,

Amanda and Joe

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