Eskimo Nebula

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oh the Humanitea's Travel Tips for those with dietary restrictions or allergies

Hello again,

I'll be traveling soon and so I thought that I would write about how I'm preparing for it. In some previous posts I may have mentioned about how I have transitioned to being a Vegetarian to being a Vegan for almost a year now; this is why I thought that this would be helpful for anybody else in the same situation. I was a Vegetarian for a very long time and the last few times that I've traveled abroad or traveled in general being Vegetarian was sometimes a stretch depending on where I was, but still manageable. Even though Veganism is not really something unknown these days; there are still a lot of people that do not have that much knowledge about it; so it's a bit more difficult to deal with, especially when you're not at home base. 

If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies; you are probably already accustomed to being ready at the drop of a hat. You generally will always have a back up plan, eat ahead of time or carry some 'safe' snacks with you. So, when you're traveling you need to make sure to do the following:

1) Pack the essentials
Do people still use these types of suitcases anymore? Hehehe =)

     -Special medicines or supplements: 
Even if you think you can find your exact medicines or supplements; you're better off bringing them with you. You never know what could happen during the course of a trip. Always pack any medicine or supplements in your carry-on bags too and never in your check in luggage. 

     -Basic portable snacks: 
I have made some homemade 'lära bar' type snacks as well purchased some special trail mixes etc. I will also be making homemade crackers and cookies that I will also be sharing with my relatives when I've reached my destination. It's always nice to bring a taste from home to share with everybody.

2) Do your research

Dr. Felix Orangutango  researching!

   - Find out about local restaurants and local markets/groceries:
Find out whether or not they serve/stock key food items.This will involve doing online searches and calling and or emailing the business/restaurant or store. If you have any issues getting responses or answers; ask your friends or relatives who live there to try and speak to them on your behalf. That's what friends and family are for =)

- Check International Standards:
Especially in the case for those of you with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease; there is yet to be a true 'international' standard determined or put into working action. Some countries can have gluten free labeled products but because of the standard difference may potentially have more than twice (some countries even more so! yikes!) the allowable percentage of gluten. 

-Check regulations:
If you're traveling abroad you need to make sure that if you're bringing any food stuffs with you; that they are not prohibited items. For example; if you're thinking of bringing some grains or seeds with you that are raw; you may be violating agriculture laws for a country. Usually if you are thinking of bringing fresh produce with you...ehhhh!!! Nope, not going to happen =) Please don't risk bringing contaminants and pests into another country and cause an ecological calamity. That type of situation is generally frowned upon. Check those governments sites, embassies and consulates and find out. Ask them if they can provide you with a concise list.

   -Place Reservations:
If you're flying to your destination; don't forget to reserve a special meal ahead of time: They will need you to confirm your meal reservation as well. (I would still make sure to have a back up meal/snack; just in case. The airlines do make the effort, but anything can happen in between now and then =0

3) Inform

No chismis!!!! Just tell me! =)

   - Don't keep people in the dark: 
If you'll be staying with family or friends; make sure to let them know about your particular regimens and restrictions. For my upcoming trip I've spoken both on the phone and also sent emails with all the information and included additional links to website with more concise information.You don't want to offend them when you show up there and they've made something for your to eat and it turns out that you can't have it =( 
You may also want to make sure you know how to explain your dietary needs in the local language. I would definitely take the time make sure it's correct and to practice this over and over again. Be sure to write it down on some index cards and keep those index cards with you all the time. If you have food allergies; you should do the same thing (include instructions about any medications that you may need, where they are located and who to contact in case of emergency etc.

4) Share the love
    -If you have a chance to prepare a meal while traveling; take up the opportunity and share it with your hosts, friends and family. As I mentioned previously; I have made some treats to be share upon landing. 

I hope that you found some of this information useful. Traveling in itself is stressful enough; so the more you do ahead of time; the easier it will be when you arrive at your destination. Make sure that your vacation doesn't turn into a chore!

Wishing you all good health and happy travels!

Take time to breathe and enjoy the view!