<strong>I am often asked questions about travel. And nearly as often, I realise that a lot of former travel enthusiasts have all but given up their favourite hobby after receiving their diagnosis or have restricted themselves to ‘safe areas’. It’s not rare for me to hear of someone passing up a career opportunity if it involves travel.</strong>
The subject of travel is one I am particularly fond of because it is one of my own favourite hobbies. I have always travelled a lot and to distant places for my work as well as for personal reasons. I never gave up travelling; even in times when I suffered from bad intolerances, I travelled and went out to restaurants. The subject of ‘business travel’ is a special one, since business meetings are usually part of a tight schedule, and food arrangements have been made in advance. Since you can’t not eat for long periods, nor is it really possible to keep leaving the meeting, I would like to propose a few creative solutions today that can make your business trip a success, even if you have a food allergy.
<strong>In this article I discuss what to do whilst travelling to and from your destination and during your stay.</strong>
<h2>In the air: airplane travel (medium and long-haul)</h2>
Food can usually be ordered in advance with nearly every airline. This can be done by telephone or on the airline’s website. Many caterers are unable to offer anything suitable to people with several allergies or intolerances. And sometimes the pre-ordered food is simply not delivered on board. If you want to be absolutely sure, take your own food with you. It can be done. You don’t necessarily need to have a medical certificate or doctor’s note with you. Airport security doesn’t allow liquids to be brought in. But you can take any other type of food with you. You will then be prepared, whatever happens. You don’t need to declare the food you have brought with you. However, please note that many countries have import restrictions. So make sure you eat everything while you are in the air. 😉
If you prefer to have a hot meal during your flight, you can bring instant meals. These can be heated up with hot water by the flight attendant. It is not a strange thing to ask either. It won’t be the first time the crew has received such a request. In fact, it is quite common in Asia for people to bring along their own instant noodle soup<span lang=”EN-GB”>J</span>.
A number of products free from preservatives and allergens, such as porridges and soups, are available in the shops.
<h2>Once there: meetings and hotel buffets</h2>
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At business meetings, whether near or far, workshops, conferences, seminars and the like, the food on site is usually unsuitable for allergy sufferers. All too often, reservations are made at restaurants whose menus – let’s put it this way – make things rather difficult for people with allergies.
<h2>Organisation is the key! Here is my 10-point plan:</h2>
<li>Make an <strong>overview list</strong> in advance with your personal ‘food requirements’, keeping it as brief as possible. If there is anything important to watch out for, add it to the list.</li>
<li><strong>Contact the person(s) in charge of the event organisation</strong> well in advance, speak to them about your situation and find out whether there will be suitable options for you in terms of food. You should do the same if you are staying in a hotel.</li>
<li>If it is not possible for the caterer or conference hotel to meet your needs, find out from the event organisers whether there are <strong>places where you can buy food</strong> (supermarkets, organic food shops), restaurants, delis and delivery services close to the venue. Obtain a list.</li>
<li><strong>Do an online search</strong> to find out whether the sources you are given offer the right kinds of foods or meals. In case of doubt, contact the company in question and ask them your specific questions.</li>
<li>Select what you can have. Write a <strong>shopping list</strong> or a meal list.<a id=”set-post-thumbnail” class=”thickbox” href=”http://www.ecarf.org/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=3987&type=image&TB_iframe=1″><img class=”attachment-266×266 size-266×266 alignright” src=”http://www.ecarf.org/wp-content/uploads/bowlsasian-soup-noodles-600×400.jpg” sizes=”(max-width: 266px) 100vw, 266px” srcset=”http://www.ecarf.org/wp-content/uploads/bowlsasian-soup-noodles-600×400.jpg 600w, http://www.ecarf.org/wp-content/uploads/bowlsasian-soup-noodles-300×200.jpg 300w, http://www.ecarf.org/wp-content/uploads/bowlsasian-soup-noodles.jpg 660w” alt=”BowlsAsian-soup-noodles” width=”266″ height=”177″ /></a></li>
<li>Now speak to the event organisers again and ask them <strong>to arrange for ‘YOUR’ food</strong> to be available so that you have enough to eat.Business meetings are demanding enough as it is, so it’s important that you feel well and at your best.</li>
<li>If all of the above measures fail, don’t be discouraged. <strong>Get yourself organised</strong>.</li>
<li>If the plan is to go to a <strong>restaurant</strong>, speak in advance to the <strong>restaurant staff</strong> yourself. Have them put together a meal or menu you can tolerate that will then be served to you when you go there. If you notify them well in advance, all restaurants are actually capable of preparing meals that are not on the regular menu.</li>
<li>You can provide all of the food for yourself even during longer meetings that go on for several days without having to eat only biscuits. For example, you can cook your own <strong>food from home</strong>, vacuum pack it and bring it with you. Or you can pimp your own food on site. Add fresh fruit to your instant porridge or hot breakfast cereal, cut up fresh vegetables for your ready-to-eat soup, liven up your mashed potatoes with vegetables, etc. Be inventive. Even a granola bar or energy balls make great snacks for in between meals. They fill you up and give you a quick supply of energy, as their name implies. Be sure to observe the import regulations if you are travelling overseas.</li>
<li>At home, you can order food <strong>online</strong> from <strong>food delivery</strong> services and have it delivered to your hotel. This is recommended for fresh produce and longer stays. Notify the hotel in advance and explain briefly why you need to do this. They will often provide you with extra fridge space or even a microwave.</li>
If you want or need to bring your own food, pack it in a cool bag so that it stays fresh for longer. An electric cool box keeps food fresh even during a long train or car ride. A trusty electric kettle can be of great use whilst travelling – you can use it to make tea, heat up vacuum packed foods and boil water for instant soup. A travel kettle is smaller and lighter to carry than the big one from home. Another practical tool for on the go is a vegetable peeler (but don’t pack it in your hand luggage). Not only does it peel fruits and vegetables, it can also be used to make vegetable ribbons and more.
As you can see, there are many possibilities. You have to be committed, otherwise it won’t work. But if you have an allergy, you probably already know this.
By the way, I wrote this article during two flights. I only brought a muesli bar with me in case of emergency, but it was a short flight. 🙂
Author: Stefanie Grauer-Stojanovic
Did you know:
a) Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. is the first airline bearing the ECARF Seal. (Link: <a href=”http://www.ecarf-label.com/dienstleistungen/fluggesellschaften.html”>http://www.ecarf-label.com/dienstleistungen/fluggesellschaften.html</a>)
b) LSG Sky Chefs and ECARF work together on recipes for special meals. (Link: <a href=”http://www.ecarf-label.com/dienstleistungen/caterer.html”>http://www.ecarf-label.com/dienstleistungen/caterer.html</a>)
c) ECARF certifies hotels and food service operations worldwide that have taken simple measures to adapt their services to the needs of allergy sufferers. <a href=”http://www.ecarf-label.com/en/services.html”>http://www.ecarf-label.com/en/services.html</a>