Worried about gluten in Italy? Meatless options in Manhattan? Controlling blood sugar levels when faced with an unfamiliar menu? Traveling with a dietary restriction or food allergy doesn’t have to be bland. You can still experience the flavor of the city or country you’re visiting with some good ole’ fashioned courtesy and handy resources. 

Just ask. Before diving into a detailed explanation about how your gut can’t process simple starches, put a little effort into learning phrases like “Does this food contain …” or “I’m allergic to …” While you’ll likely find someone who can speak or at least understand English, showing a little effort will make your dining experience more enjoyable. It also is helpful to carry a list of translations with you for words like bread, chicken, beef, eggs, fish, etc. Allergy or food restriction cards are available from sites like Allery Translation and can be customized with up to 10 allergens or intolerances.

There are vegetarians everywhere. Many places are known for being a destination for their cuisine. Germany, for example, has more than 1,500 kinds of sausages. While it may seem impossible for a vegetarian to survive, sit down at any restaurant and you’re likely to find Spätzle – a Bavarian dish made with egg noodles covered in baked, grated cheese and crispy fried onions. Dumplings with mushroom sauce are just a drool worthy, especially when their washed down with a half-liter of beer.

Meatless options can be found anywhere you visit. HappyCow is a public-service site to assist travelers and people everywhere in finding plant-based, vegan options and healthy foods. Search by city, region or zip code to find traditional cuisine and alternative restaurants and cafes. GlutenFreeTravelSite is another great resource for people with Celiac Disease or other gluten intolerances.

Do the cooking yourself. Booking accommodations with a kitchen can make a big difference while traveling. There are plenty of unique “homes away from home” thanks to Airbnb and VRBO. Head to the grocery or local farmer’s market after settling in to stock up on breakfast staples and purchase snacks to keep you satisfied in between sightseeing.

Limiting the times you have to eat out will help to avoid awkward encounters and allow you to splurge on a really great lunch or dinner. 

Remember to pack medication in case you eat something that upsets your stomach, and work meal planning into your travel research. There’s no reason a restrictive diet should restrict your fun.

Do you have additional tips or resources for Fast Park guest’s traveling with a restrictive diet? Let us know on our Facebook page.