New post today and featuring a brilliant guest blog post from Allergy Abroad and a guide to travelling to India. Have a read and enjoy. Stay safe everyone x
How to travel In India with Food Allergies
India is one of those special countries everyone has to visit once in their lifetime. Home to the world’s oldest civilization, it is known for its exceptional architecture, diverse culture, and spiritual methods. Its magnificent forts, mesmerizing hospitality, amazing handicrafts, and relaxing spirituality is sure to take your heart away.
Many people who have food allergies would see India as a high risk country and it’s true. Many local Indian places are still unfamiliar with allergies, with it being an uncommon condition. It’s even more important to do some prep beforehand so, here are a few tips that can help you manage food allergies in India.
Important Things to Consider regarding Food Allergies in India
Prepare Your Allergy Kit Beforehand
This wouldn’t be an allergy prep list if we didn’t start with the essentials. It goes without saying when packing your case, layout all your medicines anti-allergen kits – like Benadryl, Epi-pens, inhalers etc.. and always take more than you need. I always resort to Totstotravel which has an extensive list on what to carry, it might be more than you need, but they have thought of everything you could need.
If you have anaphylactic reactions to any of your food allergies, then you know eating out is high risk. For nut allergy sufferers, Indians use a lot of nuts in their food and coupled with a lack of awareness amongst locals, it can be a recipe for disaster. If you decide to limit yourself to established restaurants, I highly recommend contacting front offices (hotels too) in advance to find out whether they can cater for your allergy. If you want to explore and learn more on Indian cuisine then you can try a cooking class with a local Indian family. That way you can see what’s being cooked in front of you and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything. Airbnb experiences has a great range of cooking classes to try.
Dive Deep Into Your Allergy Triggers
If you already know your allergies really well, then it’s a no brainer that you should be carrying a translation of your allergy. Although the national language of India is Hindi, there are over 22 languages spoken across the Indian states. Pre written translations have made communicating my allergy a whole lot easier. You can find your allergy translated in various phrases for free online, otherwise get in touch with a indian reddit community and kindly ask someone for help.
Be Alert On The Go
Don’t forget to always carry your EpiPen. Keep it with you and not in the overhead bin while you travel. Try to go for one that has slots for other medicines and can be labeled with your name and medical information.
If you’re travelling with anyone, make it a point that they know how to use an EpiPen. You can get ‘trainer’ pens and practice so that in times of need, they can be of help.
After you Reach India
A smartphone has been an essential piece of kit for travellers. If you are carrying one you should label a contact as ‘ICE.’ ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.” As the name suggests, this person would be the contact point if something happens to you.
You can even include any info as notes or memos that you feel a medical practitioner needs to know. This might include “Asthmatic” or “Allergic to …..” Many countries are making it a practice to check this entry on patients’ phones.
In restaurants, don’t rely on the servers to ask you about your allergies, always try to speak to the manager. If you don’t feel comfortable, remember you always have the option to walk away.
What I noticed in India was nuts were too expensive to be used for everyday cooking. So, the majority of the restaurants only garnish the delicacies with the nuts at the top, but this is of course no guarantee.
It’s always better to familiarise yourself with the local versions of the foods that you would need. Even the same dish can have variance in its recipe around India, so don’t get complacent and not check for your allergy. If the long bus or train trips are a part of your travel plan, pack a lunch with you. Otherwise, you can also get packed food at the roadside dhabas selling different eateries. These can sometimes be good spots, if you can see what and how they are preparing the food.
If you’re staying at a hotel where english is well spoken, you can discuss things with the hotel staff, and they may help ends meet. Or you it’s also very easy to make friends with a cook at any local dhaba. Just buy him the ingredients, offer some money as a token of gratitude, and you should be good to enjoy your favorite food in India also – that too, without any fear of allergy!
In the end, it all sums up to the phrase that one should eat to live, not live to eat. Read the labels of every food item very carefully and take the utmost caution while eating out in India. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to rock your trip to India. Don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comment box!