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Tips For Traveling With Allergies & Dietary Limitations

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When our 11-year old announced she was going vegetarian, I thought it’d last a week. Maybe two. I was wrong. And actually, as as result, our entire family is eating healthier. We buy and eat organic foods whenever possible and stock up on grass-fed beef and bison and cage-free eggs when they go on sale. But we travel quite a bit and while I’m a big believer in, “It’s vacation! Eat dessert first!” there are some things you can’t do, especially if there’s an allergy involved.

When someone in your family has specific dietary needs, it adds an entirely new level of planning to your vacation. That planning can lead to stress and, let’s face it, no one wants to be stressed on vacation.

However, with a little forethought, you can meet everyone’s dietary requirements. Here are some tips that have worked for us:

1. Let restaurants know of any allergies

Most places will be more than happy to discuss ingredients or requirements. Walt Disney restaurants are said to have some of the best customer service in this respect and it’s not unheard of for the chef to come to your table to discuss options.

2. Know which chain restaurants cater to your needs

I know. I know. I love trying local eateries just as much as anyone, but in a bind it’s good to know that Panera and Chipotle cook with responsible ingredients and that you can get a grass-fed patty at Outback Steakhouse.

3. Cook yourself

Frankly, one of the nice things about being on vacation is not having to cook, but if your room has kitchenette or better yet, a full kitchen, you may find it less bothersome to cook at least some of year meals.

4. Carry what you can

Protein bars, gluten-free crackers, and cereals are easy to pack and carry. It helps to know you have something with you that you can eat.

5. There’s an app for that!

A vegan I know swears by Postmates for food delivery when she’s traveling and either doesn’t want to leave the hotel or can’t because of time.

6. Shop local

On our recent trip to Williamsburg, we went shopping on Saturday morning and happened upon the local farmer’s market. The booths were filled with organic produce, humanely raised beef and pork, and local seafood. Your hotel concierge should be able to give you information on dates, times and locations of local markets.

Lastly, a word of warning when it comes to eating, especially around holidays. Be aware of closing times. We spent Christmas in Orlando one year and decided to see a movie on Christmas Eve. By the time the movie was over, it was after 8 pm and everything was closed: restaurants, grocery stores, EVERYTHING. We finally found a chain restaurant that served us food at the bar, but still, poor planning on our part. Think ahead with these tips and hopefully you’ll never be caught in a bind.

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Veggie Thai Red Curry photo by Jennifer / CC BY 2.0

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Christy lives in North Carolina where she worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry for fifteen years before Early Onset Parkinson’s brought her career to a halt. Undeterred, she…

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