Traveling with Food Allergies

One of the biggest challenges that presents itself when I am traveling or visiting chapters this year as an LC is food on every visit or trip. For many, food never crosses their mind – there are restaurants to eat at everywhere. But for those like myself with lots of food allergies, it is a constant challenge. Luckily, I’ve learned some tips along the way in my LC travels, including what to do when you find yourself in the ER due to an allergic reaction.

First, a few tips:

  • Chain restaurants are easier to eat at because they are likely to report their food ingredients online, which you can easily access before you go out to eat
  • I do my best to avoid eating out at restaurants where cross contamination is highly likely. For example, I never eat at Chinese or Thai restaurants because I am allergic to peanuts and sesame, and these ingredients are used often. Fun fact though: even being careful at places where there may be some cross contamination can still land you in the ER. Keep reading to find out how a cross contamination incident brought me to the hospital during LC training last summer.
  • I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to customize your plate and that it is okay to ask to do so. People who go out to eat with me often know that I am a plain jane when it comes to ordering food. Yes, I can be a little picky, but also, I usually feel more confident eating something when I know it doesn’t have any special unknown ingredients, especially if I’m in a place that I’ve never been before. So, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/waitress if you can customize the food to what you need because of your restrictions.
  • Ultimately, make sure you have peace of mind wherever you eat. Already being on the go often causes nerves to arise about what you’re eating and where you’re eating. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask what it is or ask for something else. Doing so will go a long way in making you feel comfortable wherever you are.

Despite these tips, and from someone like myself who is EXTRA careful, allergic reactions still do happen. Here’s a quick story for you…

After a fun day of LC training, the team and I went to get ice cream in Indy. I had ordered my ice cream, took one bite and quickly realized that I was having an allergic reaction. Insert some moments of panic, but shortly thereafter, four LCs and I were on the way to the emergency room. This was all the result of cross-contamination, and the ice cream place using the same scooper for cantaloupe sorbet as they did for the vegan ice cream I ordered. (Fun fact #2: I’m allergic to melons). Luckily, with the support of my amazing LC friends, we made it safely to the ER and the wonderful Mary Henner stayed with me while they treated me (just take a look at that great ER selfie). And we made it safely back to the hotel several hours later. All that to say – it’s important to know what you’re eating and what it is around it. You can never be too careful!

Wishing you safe travels with allergen-free adventures!

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