How to Travel with Dietary Restrictions

Eat Healthy While Traveling

I love to travel. Exploring the unfamiliar, meeting locals, tasting new cuisine, and embracing a foreign culture is one of the best things you can do for yourself. My husband I recently took a trip to London and Paris, and everyday I was amazed by the sights and sounds in both cities. As a creature of habit, living out of a suitcase and not having access to a gym or kitchen was a challenge. Just ask my husbandโ€”I was in constant search of avocado toast ๐Ÿ™‚


When it comes to travel research Iโ€™m pretty good at two things: food and fitness. In anticipation of a trip I spend hours scouring social media (the Instagram save feature is amazing) and reading food blogs and reviews. My husband will pretty much eat anything. Me, not so much. So, what is a picky eater to do abroad?

Today, Iโ€™m sharing 5 tips that can make your travel easy peasy. In other words, a few things Iโ€™ve learned after a few too many hangry moments. Whether you are gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian there are tons of options for you. It just takes a bit of planning and creativity.

Pack a variety of snacks

Before a trip I load up on bars, almond butter packs, rice cakes, almonds, and trail mix. Tip: Check customs restrictions. Thereโ€™s nothing worse than getting your snacks snatched up at the border. Although fresh food is always the best option, when youโ€™re out and about in the city, pre-packaged items are great for a 4 pm pick-me-up (and they donโ€™t get soggy in your purse). Local markets in your destination city are also great for picking up items after settling in.

Plan Ahead

This one may seem obvious, but do your research! Many vegetarians, vegans, and celiacs ask, โ€œwill I be able to eat anything?โ€ But have no fear. Celiac in Italy? Vegetarian in Brazil? Truth is the world eats pretty similar to you and there are options.

Before every trip my husband and I make a mini itinerary (always subject to change). We typically enjoy a few nice brunches and dinners, and go casual and local for other meals. For our pre-planned foodie dates I look at Instagram, Yelp, and local blogs (Eater and The Infatuation were handy in the UK and Paris). And donโ€™t forget to ask the locals! Farmers markets and mom and pop shops are hidden gems with yummy eats.


Macarons are gluten free ๐Ÿ™‚

Utilize Resource Guides

Let others do some of the leg work. You may be surprised to know that 5-10% of the worldโ€™s population is vegetarian. The team at HappyCow has been helping diners get their meat-free fix for years, and their directory lists more than 7,300 vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Celiac? Celiac Travel has created gluten-free restaurant cards in 54 languages so you can download them to your phone or print them out and show them to the waiter or chef (Select Wisely is another handy site for translation cards).

Order a gluten-free or vegetarian meal with the airline

Iโ€™ll admit airplane food isnโ€™t always the best. But when youโ€™re 30,000 feet in the air itโ€™s smart to have a back-up plan. For international flights, dietary-special meals can usually be ordered online 48 hours in advance. En route to London I ordered the gluten free meal on Air New Zealand. Lucky for me they brought those out first ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Accommodations with a Kitchen

Nowadays there are a ton of options for booking your stay. With websites like Airbnb you can reserve a quaint apartment in the city, complete with a fridge and stove. Not only will whipping up your own meals save you a ton of money, but youโ€™ll have complete control over the ingredients.

Iโ€™m a huge fan of eating local while traveling, but itโ€™s also fun to cook up a delicious meal with fresh ingredients from a local farmers market, too.

Donโ€™t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Seriously. Donโ€™t be afraid to ask questions or make substitutions. Say things like, โ€œIโ€™m allergic to wheat, Iโ€™m celiac, I donโ€™t eat meatโ€ to be clear and concise on what you will and will not eat. In my family my mom is pretty infamous for asking a ton of questions (we sometimes count). But, she always gets what she wants.

From building an itinerary to booking accommodations and dealing with jetlag, traveling can be exhausting. Donโ€™t let the โ€œwhat to eatโ€ dilemma weigh you down (see what I did there). With a little planning youโ€™ll be jet setting around the world eating like a local in no time.

Further Reading:

This article from The Points Guy breaks down travel myths, and some delicious destinations for vegetarian and gluten-free eats around the world.


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