Here is what you need to know about traveling with food allergies from an expert, who not only has food allergies herself, but is an amazing vacation planner with Magical Memory Planners.
Jo, for those with food allergies, what is the first thing you should do when you are thinking about planning a vacation?
Contact a travel agent of course. It’s great to work with someone who really understands traveling with food allergies. Make sure you let your agent know right away so they can include that in their thought process as they make recommendations.
What are your favorite vacation destinations that handle food allergies well?
All Disney destinations such as Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii, and Adventures by Disney (all over the world) are great with allergies. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Beaches Resorts are also excellent with food allergies.
What types of things do you recommend doing before you travel to help everything go smoothly while on vacation?
I always make notes on the reservations to help the destination/restaurants be prepared for the family. I also take a look at restaurant menus, when available, to make sure there are great options. For example, if you have a severe shellfish allergy you might not want to eat at a seafood-focused buffet no matter how good the destination is with allergies. Or if you have a peanut allergy you might not want to eat at a location that has peanuts on the tables.
Do you have any recommendations while on vacation?
Always confirm your dietary needs with your host and servers at restaurants. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you have your allergy information in the local language. Even if you can’t say it, have it written correctly on a card that you can show your servers so there is no miscommunication. Keep some allergy-friendly snacks on hand in case you need a snack and can’t find what you need. When visiting Beaches Resorts you can meet with the culinary concierge on your arrival day or first full day to be sure all your needs are noted and taken care of. They will help with any questions you have as well.
Traveling with allergies can be hard and when you have a great experience I’m sure it stands out. Can you share a story or two of some of the most memorable experiences?
Chef Joaquin at Disney’s Pop Century Resort went above and beyond.
Can you share a few of your favorite allergy-friendly foods you have had and where you have had them? Things you never thought you would get to enjoy.
Churros from Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or at 3 Bridges at Coronado Springs are amazing. Disney has amazing chicken fingers at most dining locations as well.
The gluten-free beignets from Port Orleans French Quarter or France at Epcot are amazing—even for gluten eaters. Did you know that Dole Whip is very allergy-friendly? Royal Caribbean has amazing gluten-free and sugar-free desserts too. Our favorite is the pineapple cake we had the first day of our cruise on the Navigator of the Seas.
So if you had a word of advice for those with food allergies looking to travel, what would it be?
Don’t wing it and don’t settle! It’s a vacation. It’s supposed to be relaxing, fun, and DELICIOUS!