The following tips come from FAST vistors' experience. Although these tips may or may not help you, we still wish you a happy and safe trip.
General Travel Tips
Tips from Kelly
My husband and I make meals and
freeze the food in containers. When we arrive he washes any dishes
we would use and we heat up the food. We eat at the hotel or the suite and use a
microwave. This way, we do not have to worry about asking a chef to do this or that. We
heat up our meals on plates and then eat.
We have one of those freezer units you can take in your car. Some food we bring is cold and has to be eaten cold, like pizza. I do not mind it
either way, warm or cold. I like to make lots of muffins. They are easy to make and
fit in my purse, and if I need a snack I can just pop one out. We
have fresh fruit and veggies. We even go the extreme to have a small kettle, and bring
our own cereal, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Tips from Ken Silverman
* I will NOT eat anything that I suspect will get me sick. At that point I will let the restaurant know that it
wasn't prepared how I asked, or I will just
not eat. Going hungry is better than getting sick.
* I try and eat at hotels, fine restaurants, or small restaurants. At a
hotel, they are usually more tolerant of accommodating my request. At
foreign hotels, the staff is more likely to speak English, so your success
rate will be higher. At fine restaurants, you can usually speak to the chef
in person, and this increases your success rate exponentially. At small
restaurants food is usually prepared individually (unlike in chain
restaurants), and usually Momma is in the back preparing the food...
* Avoid high-risk restaurants at all cost. For me, high risk restaurants
fall into two categories: Asian restaurants where peanut oil is heavily
used and in/on everything, and chain restaurants. Chain restaurants are not
just fast food. I do not eat at places like: Denny's, Tony Romas Ribs,
Pizza Hut, etc. These places often prepare the food in a factory, and send
it in bulk to the restaurant. The restaurant has no idea on what's in the
* When I find a safe restaurant, I continue to go back so they get to know
me. This works great overseas, as they rarely get a crazy American with
such special requirements...so they are usually ready for me.
* I ALWAYS carry safe food with me where ever I go (restaurant, beach,
opera, etc). Usually I carry an emergency banana and emergency apple. You
can buy those in almost any country [if you are not allergic to them], and those two items usually hold me over
until I can eat safely again.
* Specifically let the restaurant know what ingredients they are allowed
to use. I am intolerant of most spices (onion, garlic, pepper), so in the
USA, an order might go something like this:
"Is the hamburger 100% meat? OK, I would like a plain hamburger patty. I
want just a plain hamburger patty with no bun, no spices, no oils, nothing.
I want a plain 'dead' hamburger patty in the middle of a white plate with
nothing else. If it comes with anything else on the plate I will not eat
it. On the side, I would like a salad with only lettuce. For dressing, I
want oil and vinegar on the side. Oh, one last favor: can they prepare the
food on a clean section of the grill, or in a clean pan? I need to be
careful about cross-contamination."
Believe me, this is EXACTLY what I say. Asking for a hamburger without the
bun will still bring a hamburger WITH the bun. The "plain hamburger patty"
usually sinks in. Also, the "dead" hamburger or "dead" steak usually brings
a laugh, yet really gets to the point. Don't ask my why, I just know it
works from experience. The staff will look at me funny, but I'll take weird
looks any day compared to getting sick.
Tips from Jennifer Lillehei
* Make sure that you are able to control your allergies at home before going away from home.
* Traveling with food allergies, even if you have little time to plan, can be fun and safe.
* Carry around a laminated paper with a list of your food allergies,
a list of acceptable foods that you CAN eat, and a note about the
dangers of cross-contamination.
* Bring a medium (carry-on size) soft-sided cooler with some safe
snacks (e.g. fruit leather, rice cakes, chips, dried fruit), salad
dressing, fruits and veggies (if traveling domestically). These
are expecially needed on the plane rise, lunches with buffets, etc.
* Know what type of restaurants you can eat in (especially if you
are so sensitive that inhaling food proteins causes reactions).
For example, those allergic to wheat, should stay away from Italian
and pizza restaurants. Those allergic to corn shouldn't go to Mexican
restaurants and those with peanut allergies should stay away from Asian restaurants.
* Eat at nicer restaurants. I know this is expensive, but you will
get safe service. Most fast food or chain restaurants have much
of their food brought in pre-manufactured and packaged. At nicer,
more expensive restaurants, the chef can prepare something for you
in a clean saute pan and you can be confident that the restaurant is watching out for you.
* Find a "hole in the wall", small restaurant that will take the
time to take care of you. Smaller, non-chain restaurants, usually
do not buy premade food. Frequent the restaurant so the owners get
to know you. They will appreciate your business and you will get the service.
* Find a nice hotel that will be able to accomodate your food allergies
and special requests if on a short trip. If going on a long trip,
get a hotel with a kitchen that has pots & pans and cooking utensils.
* Find out how your insurance works, where hospitals are, etc. in the area you are visiting.
* CARRY MULTIPLES OF ALL MEDICATIONS AND RESCUE ITEMS NEEDED ON
YOUR PERSON AT ALL TIMES. Make sure family and friends know what
to do, how to do it and where to go if you have a reaction.
Tips from Melissa T.
* If you don't feel ready for a long trip, a day-
trip can be really fun. Maybe a museum, interactive museum, nearby theme-park or a zoo. I have felt such freedom in getting out, even if only for a day! We fill a cooler with safe foods, and only eat one meal out (breakfast before we leave, dinner when we get back). Of course I am extra careful with the foods I eat while we're out (only safe stuff from the cooler) so that I don't end up sick and can enjoy the little trip out of the house.
* If you like the great outdoors, become a "day hiker" and invest in a "day pack" backpack to stash necessities. This active sport can even include cooking out. Always go with a friend and read safety tips before heading out. It's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. This site (outside link) contains helpful information: http://www.hikesafe.com/. And be sure to check for parks in your area. The following site lists US parks:
Tips from Janet Tollenaar
* Before traveling see your doctor. Obtain your medications and extra prescriptions. For anaphylaxis, ask your doctor for a
prescription for an oxygen flow rate, in case you go into shock on the plane. The flight crew can administer oxygen on the
plane if you’re in a cabin with airborne allergens. Ensure you have extra EpiPens and Anakits as well as (oral and tablet)
Benadryl or your favorite antihistamine. (Labeling is very different in other locals and you may not be able to distinguish
the right medication in the midst or after an attack.)
* Traveling can be very stressful because of the potential hazards. We all know that high levels of stress contribute to our
bodies reacting more quickly to our surroundings. I recommend asking your doctor for a low dose of sub-lingual
* When booking your flight, try to avoid morning flights on Canadian carriers if you are allergic to eggs and wheat. You can
special order your meals but you must give the airlines at least 48 hours in advance. I pick the vegan vegetarian – just to be
on the safe side. I also bring extras and they tend to be packaged or canned goods as fruit and veggies tend to get too
beat-up. I eat a very healthy meal before I leave.
* If you are traveling alone and you know you will be on a flight where you have your allergens present, board early and let
your flight attendant know that you are allergic. The flight crew is not allowed to administer medications. However, should
your neighbour choose a food where your allergens may be present the crew tends to be great in helping out (they have
the capability of moving you to an area of the cabin where the smell is not so pungent). Please note that if the crew feels
you are too much of a risk, they can refuse your passage on the flight.
* Again, if you are traveling alone and you know you may be in contact with your allergens, tactfully mention the
passengers adjacent to you that you have certain food allergies and ask if one of them would feel comfortable helping you
should something happen. Most people know someone who is severely allergic and are quite willing to help.
* At your destination, check out the nearest drug store, medical facility and restaurant -– unless you will be quite a ways from
the hotel (e.g at a conference or constantly on the go). Ask the Concierge or Hotel Manager if there is a grocery store
nearby as you are on a very special diet.
* In your room check if there is a 911 in the district you are staying in. Some districts do not have this and late at night dialing
out to the emergency services can be faster than waiting for a hotel operator.
* Even though hotels provide complementary shampoos and soaps, I recommend using your own, and if you really like the
fancy toiletries provided, take them with you and try them out at home in a safe environment.
* Some restaurants are allergy friendly. Restaurants like Wendy’s and such offer ingredient lists and mark where
cross-contamination can occur. Mid-range, my experience with Tony Roma’s has been great, they will bring the labels out
to you or invite you to the back. This restaurant chain is aware of cross-contamination and has several different grills for
different meats! As I am anaphylactic to chicken and seafood. TR gets top rating from me. If you go to a posh restaurant, ask
for the Su chef and ask that your food be prepared kosher. Kosher is specially prepared in separate pans so that there is no
contamination with specific substances -– this originally comes from Jewish tradition of a pork-free diet.
* There is a nice little computer program called TripMaker by Rand & McNally. This is an excellent tool for car trips and it
shows all sorts. AMA also has services to find out the necessities of a place. It’s good to make these little investments for
a great holiday!
Preparing your own meal for an airline trip
By Ken Silverman
If you ask the reservations desk if the flight attendants will heat your own
prepared food, they will typically say no. But the flight attendants have
ALWAYS happily assisted me once on the plane. Airlines do not have
microwave ovens - they use some kind of air-convection oven, which uses
forced hot air. This means your meal must be prepared in a metal
(ovenproof) container - you cannot use plastic bags! Also, your meal needs
to be prepared in something you can eat out of, as the planes typically do
not have clean plates to put your meal on.
I suggest you prepare your meal in a small aluminum bakers tin (you can find
them at your grocery store) as you can heat in it, as well as eat out of the
tin. The tins I use are around 4" x 8" and maybe 2" deep. I slightly under
cook my meal, so it will not be overdone after re-heating. Also, do not
have too much liquid/sauce to avoid spilling in your hand-carry suitcase
(though some sauce is needed so it won't dry out during cooking). When you
fill the tin, cover it well with tin foil (I use one sheet and wrap the
entire tin, sorta like wrapping a package), and then insert it into a zipped
plastic bag to prevent spills on your trip to the airport. If it has a fair
amount of sauce, I will double-bag it to help prevent spills (based on
experience!). I usually freeze the meal so it stays cool on the 2-3 hour
duration trip from the time you leave your house, until you can get it into
the plane's refrigerator.
Once on the plane (before it has taken off), talk to the flight attendant
and explain your situation, and give them your meal. Let them know the
plastic bag is only for protection, and can be removed for heating. I
usually have them heat my meal at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes. Since
this is a special request, they will usually serve your meal after they have
served all others. I usually bring my own snacks to hold me over until my
safe meal is ready. Just to be sure, if you don't get your meal about 20
minutes after they started heating it, politely remind the attendants that
your special meal is in oven...sometimes they forget with 200 people asking
Every flight attendant has gladly accommodated my request, and frankly, they
all tease me that someone ate my great looking meal before they could get it
to me! I now have no fears about eating safely while traveling.
When you are ready to return home, ask the hotel chef (assuming you are
staying a hotel) to prepare a meal like we have just discussed. Usually
they are more than happy to help. As a precaution, I always bring (in my
luggage) an extra baking tin (or two) and plastic bags for the return trip,
as sometimes these are not available at the hotel (especially overseas).
Although many food allergic travelers have eaten out with success, as a general rule FAST does not recommend eating out for those with multiple and/or severe, life-threatening allergies. One FAST visitor's sister died as a direct result of eating out, despite her attempt to have an allergy-free meal and restaurant assurance that it was safe. In addition, something that looks completely innocent could have been basted or otherwise flavored, and with new products out such as Fit produce wash (made of corn) you can never be too careful. Allergic deaths regularly occur as a result of eating out -- either at a friend's or in a restaurant.
Instead, for traveling, you may find it helpful to make up TV dinners ahead of time and take them along. Staying in a hotel with an attached kitchen with ingredients you trust can allow you to make sure your meals are all safe.
If you do decide to eat out, or have your child eat out, be over-diligent and always have emergency medical supplies (such as epinephrine) with you.
International Travel Tips
FAST is attempting to assemble a few phrases that will be helpful to people with food allergies traveling overseas. If you are fluent or partially fluent in a language other than English and can offer a few key phrases, please e-mail FAST. The phrases we would like are listed below. Any language other than English is needed, unless it is already listed below. Thank you!
1) In English, what is in this food, please?
2) I am on a special diet. I have severe allergies to ______________. Please, I would like to talk with someone who can speak English.
3) I am allergic to ______________.
4) I would like to eat ______________.
5) Please list some common, whole foods -- both common allergens (to request dishes without) and uncommon allergens (to request dishes with).
6) Please remember to indicate which language you are translating the above phrases into.
7) Any other helpful phrases are certainly welcome!
Please remember that when eating out you are always facing a danger, especially when there is a language barrier between you and the restaurant. Be careful and know that even if you follow these translations you are likely to run into allergens. Ultimately you are responsible for what food you decide to eat.
Arranged by Mylene
In English, what is in this food, please?
En anglais, quels sont les ingrédients de ce plat?
I am on a special diet. I have severe allergies to ____________.
Je suis sur une diète spéciale. J'ai une allergie sévère à ____________.
Please, I would like to talk with someone who can speack English.
S'il vous plait, j'aimerais parlé à quelqu'un qui parle anglais.
I am allergic to _________.
Je suis allergique à ___________.
I would like to eat ____________.
J'aimerais manger _____________.
tree nuts: noix
walnuts: noix de grenobles
glass of water: verre d'eau
Supplied by Nicole Hoffmann and Sandra Markmann
In German you pronounce every
letter, so it is pretty easy to read. EI-is pronounced I, and IE is
In English, what is in this food, please?
Auf Englisch, bitte, was sind die Zutaten in diesem Essen?
I am on a special diet. I have severe allergies to ______________.
Ich bin auf einem speziellen diät. Ich habe schwere lebensmittelallergien
Please, I would like to talk with someone who can speak English.
Ich möchte bitte mit jemandem sprechen, der Englisch spricht.
I am allergic to ______________.
Ich bin allergisch gegen __________________.
I would like to eat ______________.
Ich moechte ________________ (this phrase translates to "I would like", then
insert food at end).
Does anyone here speak English?
Spricht hier jemand English bitte?
soy-Soja (pronounced soya)
crab-Krabbenfleisch (crebmeat) (Krebs=actual animal)
carrots-Moehre *or* Karotten
Arranged by Melissa T.
In English, what is in this dish, please?
Written: ?En inglés, cuál está en este plato por favor?
Spoken: ""en ing-glays, cwal es-tah en es-tay plah-toe poor fah-vor?"
(Note: This can be confusing. "Plato" means a dish or course, but it can also mean the plate itself! However, the waiter/waitress will likely know which meaning you are referring to. ;))
I am on a special diet. I have severe allergies to ______________. Please, I would like to speak with someone who can speak English.
Written: Estoy a dieta especial. Tengo alergias severas a ______________. Por favor, quiero hablar con alguien habla ingles.
Spoken: "es-toy ah dee-etta es-pesh-ee-ahl. Tango ahl-air-ee-ahs seh-vay-rahs ah ______________. Pore fah-vor, key-arrow ahb-lahr cone ahl-gey-en ahb-lah een-glays."
I am allergic to ______________.
Written: Soy alérgico a
Spoken: "soy ah-lay-ree-co ah"
I would like to eat ______________.
Written: Deseo comer __________.
Spoken: "day-say-oh coh-mare ___________."
Use a word from below. If you are writing a list, use "y" to represent "and." "Y" is pronounced "eee." You can use commas between all words, with "y" used inbetween the last two words. Some less-common allergens are also listed so that you can use the words to request a simple food you are not allergic to (such as a fruit).
apricot = albaricoque
banana = plátano
carrots = zanahorias
cherry = cereza
chicken = pollo
corn = maíz
eggs = huevos
fish = pez
garlic = ajo
bottled water = botella de agua
grains = granos
meat = carne
milk = leche
nuts = nuezes
orange = naranja
peach = melocotón
pork = carne de cerdo
potatoes = patatas
salad = ensalada
strawberry = fresa
wheat = trigo
Verbs get the following pronounciation:
A = ah
E = ay
I = ee
O = oh
U = oo
Double lls are pronounced "y" (example: pollo is "poy-oh")
One woman reported to FAST that when she
visited the US from a foreign country she was shocked at
how little American restaurants knew about food allergies and how little
they did. She also mentioned the way labeling is very poor in the United
States (example, unlabeled ingredients that are called "natural flavorings,"
"modified food starch," etc). Acquaint yourself to these
terms before coming to the US. Bring along your own safe food if you would
rather not call manufacturers about these unlisted ingredients. Read the general travel tips
at the top of this page for other helps. Some US restaurants have listings for people who have