food traveling

Travelling with Dietary Needs: Essential Tips for Enjoyable Dining on the Go


Eating while travelling can be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of any trip. Experiencing new cuisines and flavours is a highlight for many globetrotters. However, dining out while on the move also comes with its own unique challenges.

For those with dietary restrictions like food intolerances or allergies, finding safe, satisfying meals away from home can be especially tricky. With some planning and knowledge, though, you can travel tastefully and enjoy great food experiences.

1. Choose Restaurants that Cater to Your Specific Needs

For travellers with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, or other conditions that are triggered by certain foods, selecting the right restaurants is critical to avoiding an IBS flare-up. Before your trip, research restaurants near your hotel or destinations that offer a gluten-free diet plan, dairy-free, or other allergen-free options.

Also, look for restaurants that are flexible and willing to accommodate dietary needs.

Phoning ahead to explain your requirements can be helpful. For example, if you follow a low FODMAP diet plan for IBS, the chef may be willing to modify a dish by leaving out onion and garlic. Travellers who must avoid gluten should verify that the kitchen has dedicated gluten-free preparation areas and cookware. Those with multiple food allergies or intolerances may request plain grilled chicken or fish with a side of roasted vegetables.


If you’ll be road-tripping through rural areas, plan to pack suitable snacks and non-perishable emergency meals, like gluten-free power bars. And be sure to pack along any digestive aids, like ginger tea for IBS. With the proper legwork, you can dine at restaurants catering to nearly any diet plan for IBS or food allergy.

2. Understand Food Labels and Language Barriers

In many countries, food labelling regulations differ significantly from those in the UK. Allergen information that must be clearly printed on UK product packaging may not appear on labels elsewhere. And while most European countries use similar gluten-free certification symbols, they may be unfamiliar in other regions.

When language barriers exist, focus on learning key food allergy terms in the local language. Flash cards with phrases like “gluten-free” and “dairy allergy” can help you communicate with restaurant staff. Apps like Google Translate offer free translation features, though imperfect translations may still occur. As an extra precaution, photograph the menus and ingredient lists to review them later if uncertainty remains about the safety of a dish.

3. Explaining Your Dietary Needs Respectfully

No one wants to be “that customer,” especially while travelling abroad. To avoid coming across as entitled or rude when requesting special accommodations, always lead with courtesy and patience. Thank the staff for their time and understanding first.

Then, briefly explain your allergy or diet and enquire if they can suggest any suitable options.

4. Try Local Specialties with Wisdom

One of the joys of travel is sampling authentic regional delicacies. Yet for restricted diets, local favourites may seem off-limits. In truth, with wisdom and moderation, many speciality dishes can still be enjoyed. For example, if you follow a gluten-free diet, you may indulge in a few bites of pasta in Italy, so long as you take any medication that helps you manage occasional exposure.

pasta italy
pasta italy

Those with lactose intolerance can partake of India’s creamy curries by adding a lactase enzyme or requesting dairy-free options.

Dining with special dietary needs while travelling can feel daunting. However, with research, preparation, effective communication, and a spirit of flexibility, you can fully experience the joys of regional cuisine acros

by Sorin

Sorin is a freelance travel writer. He is an experienced travel writer and traveller. Since 2012 he explored more than 60 countries on 4 continents: Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Currently is based in Romania after spending the last 7 years in Myanmar.