How to Travel with Food Restrictions

I have had a very serious intolerance to milk for about 10 years now. It is on the level that if I got milk in my food I would become very sick to the point that hospitalization might be required. This has been one of the main stresses that I have faced when traveling especially to a country that doesn’t speak English. Will they take my allergy seriously? How will I communicate with them what I’m allergic to? How do I find a way to avoid restaurants when I am traveling? Well along my travels I have come up with a few answers and I want to share them with you now.

Eating at Restaurants

A lot of times when I am traveling alone I really try to avoid eating at restaurants. I get nervous that it is too risky and I will somehow get milk which will affect the rest of my trip. Sometimes, however, when traveling with friends or family this is unavoidable and I have found a simple-ish way to cope with it. A company called SelectWisely makes allergy alert cards in 36 languages which can be extremely helpful when traveling somewhere like Germany where they speak English but you want to make sure they really understand. The cards say “I have a life-threatening allergy to milk and all milk products (butter, yogurt, cheese, cream). If I eat this food or any food that has been cooked with it or touched it, I will need immediate medical attention. Does this food contain milk or milk products?” They make these cards for multiple allergies including nuts, gluten, shellfish, etc. They are really helpful at communicating the severity to the server and the kitchen so that they really understand not to put anything in your food. There has only been one time where the card hasn’t worked but I was luckily able to spot that there was cream in my food and refused to eat it. I was made aware of these cards by a man I met when traveling who has celiacs disease he used the cards and said they were a lifesaver so the second I got home I ordered them for myself.

Picking Restaurants

A lot of times while I am traveling I try to look for vegan or partly vegan restaurants. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone who is trying to avoid an allergy but I find that if a restaurant marks one allergen (usually gluten) they are understanding and throw when it comes to others. Below I will feature a list by location of all of the vegan places I have tried in different countries for those who are looking. If no vegan restaurants are in the area I usually pick a restaurant that has a lot of options because at least one of them has to be dairy-free. A prefixed menu a lot of times is not an easy route to go.

Cooking your own food

A lot of the time when I am traveling alone I decide to cook my own food. This is an easy and cheap way to navigate your allergies in another country. I typically book a hostel with a kitchen so that I can easily cook something. Then I go to the nearest grocery store and buy something simple like pasta and tomato sauce. When it comes to reading ingredients in other languages the google translate app has a feature where you can take a picture and it translates all of the words to English. This makes for a fast way to find out what is in the food rather than having to translate every single word. I always feel confident when I make the food that it is completely dairy-free and I have very little risk of getting sick.

Allergy Friendly Restaurants

  • New Zealand
    • Wanaka – Kai Whaka Pai (Great Breakfast and Pizza)
    • Queenstown – Yonder (Good Brunch)
    • Queenstown – Miss Lucys (Pizza)
    • Queenstown – Public Kitchen & Bar (Dinner)
  • Spain
    • Barcelona – The Surf House (Brunch & Dinner)
  • USA
    • Portland, OR – Virtuous Pizza – Entirely vegan
    • Knoxville, TN – Tomato Head
  • Germany
    • Munich – Max Pett (Dinner) – Entirely vegan
  • List to be continued….

Disclaimer: I do not in any way claim to be an expert on the cities I am traveling to or the countries that they are in. I would love to hear if you have other recommendations that differ from mine. Please be kind, I am new to blogging and sharing all of my life online.


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