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Having food-intolerances can be a real deal-breaker when travelling. Not knowing what ingredients are in the food you’re eating or being ignorant of what not to eat can ruin your trip. It could make you feel sick and result in a loss of precious time that you could be spending hiking mountains, riding camels or surfing waves. Worrying constantly about whether or not you can eat that local speciality can be uncomfortable and it can be frustrating to work up an appetite for the delicious things around you and then not being able to eat them. And last but not least, the difficulties that come from not being able to eat anything anywhere anytime can make you not want to travel. We wouldn’t want that to happen! So if you’re suitcase is packed with food allergies and/or intolerances you should consider reading on. Maybe some of the little tips I picked up from my experiences are new to you and could help you eat and feel better while travelling.
6 tips for travelling with lactose-intolerance
First of all I want to say, that I am not a nutrition expert and I can’t tell you what you should or should not eat. I merely speak from experience and want to share with you what I’ve learned so far. Also, I can only concentrate on one intolerance in particular, lactose-intolerance, as that is the one I have personal experience with. Having said that, I think you might be able to get something out of the tips for other food allergies/intolerances as well.
Find out what you can and cannot eat Okay, this one is a little obvious, but important. In order to avoid the things that are not good for you, you need to know what they are. Some people with lactose-intolerance need to stay clear of all dairy products and even products that only contain traces, while others only react to milk itself but have no problem eating cheese or yoghurt. While, of course, it is best to avoid dairy products entirely, it is good to know the specifics of your intolerance, so you can act accordingly and do what is best for you – and most importantly: To avoid what’s not.
Do some research on the local cuisine Different place, different eating behaviour! Find out if the local cuisine of the place where you’re going to is much different from that which you’re used to and if so, prepare yourself. If you travel to a place where milk is not a common ingredient, enjoy (but still don’t forget to double-check the list of ingredients before)! If you travel to a place where you know it’s unlikely to find the lactose-free products you might be used to, make sure to take them with you or find alternatives before leaving. You do not want to spend half of your holiday hunting for food.
Call your airline, hostel or hotel Find out what your options are. Many hotels/hostels and restaurants have lactose-free, vegetarian and even vegan dishes. Sometimes you just need to ask for them. The same goes for airlines: Especially long-distance flights often have a lactose-free-food-option, but you need to inform them about it before the trip. So make some calls while planning your next trip and figure out what your options are before you book your trip.
Always bring an emergency stash Sometimes, however, there simply is no lactose-free option. You might be on an island with nothing but a tiny supermarket or in a place that just doesn’t have what you’re looking for. That’s why you should always have some food, snacks or whatever you might need, with you. It will save you a lot of frustration and, of course, some hunger.
Prepare your co-travelers If you’re not travelling alone, make sure to prepare the people that travel with you. Explain your situation to avoid irritations and discussions when you have to go on a long food-hunt or ask for the ingredients for the 7th time when you’re in a restaurant while everyone else is eager to eat.
Be patient I know that what the guy next to you is having looks much more delicious, but you’re probably saving yourself a trip to the gym and most importantly some worries. So keep cool and maybe try not to spend so much time looking at the plates around you. Also: If you have just discovered your intolerances, this might still make you feel very frustrated, but don’t worry, it does get better with time, when you have discovered your own little treats and you’re more aware of the consequences of your food-actions.
If you’ve had other experiences and have learned some food-tricks while travelling, feel free to share them with us in the comments below!
Happy travels & Enjoy your meal