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Tips for travellers with dietary restrictions

Tips for travellers with dietary restrictions
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Worried about managing your diet on vacation? Here are some tips

Some countries are more aware of dietary restrictions than others. Whether you have restrictions due to your religion, ethical stance, weight loss targets, allergies, due to pregnancy, diabetes or if you are celiac and eating gluten free, here are some points which may help.

How do I explain my dietary restriction while travelling?

It may be easiest to carry photos of the foods you avoid, although be aware packaging differs throughout the world so images of the actual food will work best! Learn phrases about foods you need to avoid or have them written down to show. Or if you can, record someone explaining your restrictions in the local language.

If you have an allergy that can result in a serious or life-threatening reaction, you may wish to carry a translation of your allergy card.

Make sure you have access to safe food and water

There are many water- and food-borne diseases throughout the world, including typhoid, salmonella, listeria, hepatitis A and polio. Some of these are vaccine preventable, but not all. So you’ll need to support the protection provided by the hep A shot by following food safety guidance.

Staying hydrated is very important when travelling, but tap water is not always safe for travellers to drink. If you buy bottled water, always make sure the seal is intact. If bottled water is not available, you can always boil water to make it safe or use other purification techniques. Be aware about having ice in drinks because this is likely to just be frozen tap water. Learn more about safe drinking water from our travel advice article.

Plan ahead and carry some snacks with you in case you really can’t find suitable places to eat. If you are diabetic, changes in time zone, temperature or activity levels can affect your blood glucose levels. Speak to your specialist before your trip to understand how to manage this. And we have some tips on planning a vacation or business trip abroad when you have diabetes.

Try to source your food from reputable restaurants or shops. Remember, if you can’t cook it or peel it, it’s probably best to forget it. Hot and freshly cooked is safest. You may well get some diarrhea at some point on your trip, but if it persists or you get it once you return home, speak to your doctor.

Practise good hygiene and always wash your hands after visiting the bathroom and before eating.

Support your health with travel vaccines

Getting travel vaccines will reduce the chances of you getting sick while on your trip abroad. It’s quick and easy to arrange the travel vaccines that will keep you and your family safe. Just make an appointment with Canadian Travel Clinics six to eight weeks before your departure and our travel health pharmacists will recommend and administer the travel shots that are right for you.

Get travel health insurance

Always get suitable travel insurance before your trip. Check the health coverage carefully to ensure it meets your specific needs.

Can I carry my allergy meds while travelling?

Carrying meds while travelling always needs a bit of forward planning and it’s best to speak to your healthcare specialist about this.

Find out if your meds interact badly with malaria medication (if you will be taking it).

Ask your doctor or allergist for a letter about your condition and a copy of your prescription in case you need to find medical care while abroad.

Some countries have different rules about which medications and drugs are allowed. Check if any of your meds are controlled drugs in the country you are visiting.  You can find information on the drug rules in specific countries from the Government of Canada. Always keep your meds in the original packaging. You can also find our tips on traveling with meds in our health article.

If you are travelling with allergies, speak to your allergist and make sure you take enough of your usual medication (and enough for a few extra days in case of delays). You may also wish to carry some supplies of your regular medicines in your hand luggage and some in your hold luggage, in case either becomes lost. We have some advice for travellers with allergies in our blogpost.

Where can I get health advice for travel?

To get reliable advice, make a travel health appointment with Canadian Travel Clinics six to eight weeks before you travel. Also, make sure to speak to your usual healthcare team about your specific requirements.