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Epic Adventures of a Traveling Food Snob: Tip for Traveling with Food Allergies

allergies food sleep travel Sep 27, 2016
Whether by plane, train or automobile, traveling is something many of us do, but all of us should do more of. #TrueStory
 
Although, for business or pleasure, being away from our regular routines can be a challenge; so we've put together our best tips & tricks to help you get the most out of your next adventure, without throwing your well-being out the window.
 

#1 – SLEEP WELL

Before launching into any adventure (as well as throughout) a good night sleep can be one of the most valuable things you can do to stay on your A-game.
 
Plus, it’s no fun to be, or be around, a tired cranky bitch all day.
 
Fun Fact: When you haven’t slept well, you’re more likely to gain weight & get sick.

It's super important to do whatever you can to keep sleep a top priority.
 
To ensure you catch some proper zzz’s, bring melatonin, electrical tape, ear plugs & an eye mask.
Trust me, if you cherish your sleep as much as I do, these little gems will brighten every morning; never again will the bright lights and noisy crowds of a busy city street keep you from your well deserved beauty rest.
 
Still wondering, why electrical tape?

Complete darkness is key for a restful sleep…sleep mask or not, those pesky little lights in your hotel room can be quite disruptive.

Solution: cover them with a small piece of electrical tape.
what were you thinking it was for... :P
 

#2 – Plan to take your time.

It's important to know what your options are ahead of time; where to sleep, eat & have fun. It's much less stressful (& time efficient) than trying to wing it, but before you go off acting like a drill sergeant with a deadline, please remember, shit happens - breathe, smile & just go with the flow (deep breathing really helps).
 
Setting off on an epic road trip?
Map out a general route before you hit the road. Look for cool detours.
Google maps are great for showing any major construction, landmarks, side roads or detours along your route but, check it before you leave – you cannot rely on technology if you're in the middle of nowhere.

Note: Running out of gas is easier than you think.

Personal Pain: We ran out of gas 7km shy of the station while driving through an Ontario National Park (aka bear country)...that was fun (not).

Track your mileage and keep an eye out for signs to the nearest gas station. 
 
Flying out?
Ya still gotta land somewhere, so it's best to research your basic necessities ahead of time.
 

Where to sleep?

My favourite option is, anywhere under the stars!
Camping is super fun, affordable, & can be done just about anywhere with very little gear. It’s also an excellent way to help you reset your circadian rhythm and get the best rest.
 
Don’t want to rough it?
Go Glamping!
It’s relatively easy to find a campground with tons of amenities, just about anywhere.
 
 
Stuck in the city, no gear or too cold for camping?
Highly recommending you find a cozy hostel or AirB&B, because – well – they’re awesome! Plus, they're usually equipped with a kitchen, and we all know preparing your own food is the best (& healthiest) way to fuel your adventure.
 
Air B&B is the way to go if you’re more of a loner or, staying in one place for more than a few nights. You can easily find a private suite with a kitchen, usually closer to major attractions & generally cheaper than nearby hotels.
 
But, if you’re adventurous or just passing through, hostels are wicked!
 
 
Seriously.
It's a great way to meet tons of fabulous people from around the globe and still have access to a kitchen, clean bed, sometimes even laundry service, for a much better price than a gross motel room.
 
Helpful keywords to search: Air B&B,hostel, gas station, local farmer’s market, information centre, camping, hikes/trails, espresso
  
 

Where to eat? 

Let’s be realistic.
It’s not always possible to prepare your own food while you’re on the road.
 
Solution: Research the local kitchen options.
 
If you struggle with multiple food allergies or a food snob who'll only eat real food, stopping for fast-food is completely out of the question! Plus, failing to find something worth eating at an unfamiliar restaurant is such a buzz-kill.
 
Many restaurants have a website where you can scout out their menu options before hand, but some of them don’t. ***Don’t let this discourage you.***
Read their reviews.
 
If you have any direct questions about their ingredients or cooking methods, just call them and ask.
 
A restaurant with a “scratch kitchen” is the best option for those with food allergies (but highly recommended to everyone)
 
Fun Fact: A scratch kitchen prepares real food –  rather than buys prepared “food” – this means the staff actually know how to cook.
 
At a scratch kitchen restaurant, your food will be fresh & it’s much easier to build-your-own with the existing menu options.
 
Staying at a resort?
Please, let the kitchen know of your allergies.
If it’s buffet style, ask them to label the “dairy-free” – “gluten-free” – “insert-whatever-your-allergy-is”-free options.
Speak to the General Manager, if direct kitchen contact is not possible.
 
Helpful keywords to search: organic, locally-sourced, bio-dynamic, grass-fed, gluten-free and vegan (even if you’re not).
 
I never leave home without: hemp hearts, chia seeds, digestive enzymes, & melatonin
 

#3 – BRING THE ESSENTIALS

Navigating what you can bring through airport security can be tricky business; although I’ve listed a few of my go-to’s & lessons learned here, I urge you to check with the airport-nearest-you to be sure of their stipulations.

Never leave home without:

  • water – Travelling or not, you need to drink lots of water. Clean water. I can’t stress this enough. Seriously.
    Heading to the airport? Bring your own shaker cup or empty water bottle to fill once past security. You’ll be saving money and the environment. win-win
  • snacks – You’re bound to get hungry & it’s not always possible, or affordable, to find real-food options that support your food choices, at the airport or on a long road trip through the middle of nowhere for example.
 
 
Having food with you helps avoid the I’m-so-hungry-I’d-eat-anything situation that you’re guaranteed to regret later, plus, it’s a lot better for the budget.
 
Never leave home without:
chia seeds, hemp hearts/seeds, dry roasted nuts, sulphate-free dried fruits/veg chips, canned/dehydrated meats.
 
Stuff for your checked baggage:
coconut milk/oil, raw honey (even creamed), utility knife, ice packs – unless you want them gifted to the garbage.
 
Fresh fruits and vegetables might be allowed to travel on the plane with you, but I have yet to figure out which & why not.
 
Personal Pains:
I was threatened with a $300 fine while trying to catch a flight from Toronto to Chicago, for an apple I hadn’t yet eaten. 
Leaving Vietnam, they threw away my jack fruit :( but the dragon fruits were allowed through …?
Have you had airport security confiscate something you weren’t expecting? Let me know in the comments below.
 
Once you’re local, keep your eyes peeled for market stands selling fresh, spray-free (organic) vegetables & fruits.
 
Fresh Okanagan nectarines and Medjool dates on this version of chia pudding

'Other stuff' Checklist:

  • cooler bag – can be used as your second carry-on bag and for hot/cold items you find at the farmer’s market
  • ear plugs & eye mask – for better sleep
  • lacrosse ball/foam roller – because sitting sucks
  • electrical tape – for those pesky lights in the hotel room
  • flashlight – you never know when or where it will come in handy, but it will.
  • first aid kit – particularly band-aids & cleansing wipes
  • smart phone & charger – for camera & epic playlist
    • optional portable power source
  • physical maps – because technology will fail you
  • toilet paper/tissue – for obvious reasons & some you haven’t considered yet
  • journal/notebook, pens/pencil – because you won’t remember this forever – keep a record of your travels; who you met, what you ate, where you’ve been, how it made you feel!
  • a good book
  • nail clippers/small scissors
  • environmentally-friendly laundry soap
  • gym-on-the-go: yoga mat, TRX + door anchor, resistance bands
  • For hikers: small camping stove, bear spray & a group of 4 (safety first)
  • For the photo junkies: decent camera plus additional storage cards
Ready for a month away! With all of my clothes in a backpack + a second carry-on full of snacks & reading material, I have everything I may need between or during flights & I’m not stuck waiting for (potentially lost) luggage once I get to my destination.
 

#4 – PACK LIGHT

Do you really need 10 pairs of socks when you’re spending a week at the beach?
 
In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than lugging around heavy packs & multiple stuffed suitcases (that you don’t need), in and out of cars, tiny airport bathroom stalls or on public transit.
 
Here's what to bring:
  • Clothing essentials – At a minimum, with 1 to wear, 1 to wash and 1 drying, you only really need to pack 3 tops & 3 bottoms (plus socks & underwear). As a general rule, consider at least 1 outfit each for warm & cold weather, 1 outfit of nice clothes, 1 pair of jeans and a swim suit.
  • Some type of rain gear – a travel-size umbrella, hooded jacket or waterproof poncho perhaps
  • 1 Scarf or Sarong – so versatile! You’ll thank me later
  • 2 – 4 pairs of shoes: sneakers, something classy, (waterproof) sandals & hiking boots.
    Comfortable sneakers are essential, whether you’re wandering around a theme park or standing at the airport. But I can’t tell you how many times a nice pair of shoes could have saved the day; bring something classy, so you’re not stuck showing up to dinner in those dirty sneakers. Waterproof sandals can be great in the shower, on rocky beaches or just a warm, rainy day. Boots are invaluable if you’ll be doing any hiking or even if you’re just cold, a waterproof pair is even better. 

#5 – INVEST IN A GOOD BACKPACK.

A backpack can be an awesome tool to use while travelling, hiking or even wandering around trade shows.
 
Users Beware: the wrong pack will leave you with an aching back & tight neck muscles. Make sure it adjusts well to fit your body!
 
Personal Pain: I borrowed a backpack from a friend once; the shoulder straps didn’t sit well. After traveling with it for only a day and a half, I was bruised & sore for a week!
 

#6 – SLOW DOWN & Explore

  • Stop to smell the flowers. Seriously – When was the last time you stopped to fully appreciate a generous inhale of the scent from a plumeria (aka frangipani) or a freshly picked mango? It’s intoxicating.
  • Breathe – Take the side roads  – Drive the speed limit (for once).
  • Look for signs, perhaps at a quaint bar or coffee shop, for other interesting events; like a local band playing or a funky art festival.
  • Explore – with wonder, like a child would.
  • Watch for wildlife – not just crossing the road in front of you but really stop & watch them. Observe. When you slow down, it’s easier to notice the leaves on the trees, the birds, bugs & mammals; they're are all unique in the areas you travel to, even if it's only a few minutes away. Take time to explore unexpected places.
But, with a Big Pretty Please: 
Respect the wildlife & our planet. =) xo
 
Whether you’re exploring an exotic new place or tending to your backyard garden; there is always something new to notice and appreciate.
 

#7 – MEET THE LOCALS

First, the locals know where all the good spots are.
For hiking, shopping, eating, dancing…they know where it’s at & they can help you explore more than just the heavy tourist spots.
 
Second, by interacting with the locals, you experience more of their culture, even if you don’t speak the same language.
 
Lovely friends at Full Moon Village resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam
 
Smile & Nod. 
Say Hello. Ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.
 
Farmer’s markets are an amazing place to meet people in any community.
 
Although the kindness of strangers could potentially be a scam targeting tourists, all of my encounters have been safe and pleasant ones… well, except for this one time, in Egypt…
 
Use your intuition to the best of your ability. Be Safe & Have Fun.
 

#8 – GET UP EARLY

After a great night sleep, you’ll have no trouble bouncing out of bed & hitting the tourist spots before the crowds.
Even better, go on a weekday in the off-season if possible.
 
Sleeping & waking with the sun is the best way to plan your day; unless of course, you prefer bumping elbows with other tourist & random photobombs in your beautiful scenic pictures. 
 
The early bird catches the worm…or in this case, the fish.
Fisherman in his basket at sunrise – Mui Ne, Vietnam
 

#9 – MOVE YOUR MUSCLES

Sitting makes you stiff. Being stiff sucks.
Our bodies are designed to move!
 
Go for hikes, stretch or do squats while standing in line. Anything.
Long layovers can be a blessing; you’ve plenty of time to limber up.
 
If you find yourself in the seated position for more than an hour, I encourage you to stretch, squat, lunge, twist and bend anywhere & everywhere you can find some space.
  
Whether you’re on a long flight or sitting at a conference, there is always a small space to stretch. #NoExcuses
On a 15 hour flight from Hong Kong, I used the aisle & the slightly more open space near the toilets to do some much needed quad & hip stretches.
 
Bring a TRX or resistance bands, do body-weight exercises, hike, run, swim, lift large water bottles. Just keep moving.
 
Use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball to help massage out any tight areas.
 
Don’t neglect or under-estimate caring for your feet. Use a ball to massage the entire sole of each foot, putting as much or little pressure as you like (can do this seated or standing, or leaning on a friend/wall/railing for balance support).
 
On long drives, make a point of getting out to stretch at regular intervals.
 
Take a walk.
 
Look for hiking trails along your route to add some extra adventure. Check with the place you’re staying at for any nearby workout facilities, parks or tracks. Get familiar with the neighbourhood.
 
Cyclists on hwy 93 from Prince Rupert BC. 
How far would you go to ensure you die as young as possible as late as you could?
 
 
There is no excuse for you to bail on a fitness routine.
Your mind can justify anything – and it will – unless you stop making excuses.
 
Love yourself. Move your body.
 
and
 

#10 – TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES

Pictures help you remember & share your experience with others.
 
Where you stayed, who you met, what you ate…but don’t forget to look up from your lens.
 
Be present. Enjoy the sights & sounds. Wherever you are.