Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: Food Allergies on Vacation


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Food Allergies on Vacation

View from the western shore of Oahu
Traveling away from home can produce some of the most stressful food allergy situations.  What will you eat?  Where will you find it?  Can you bring your own food?  How will you carry it all?  What will happen if you find yourself without food?

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Hawaii ... we enjoyed more than our fair share of sun, sand, volcanoes.... and stomach aches.  And headaches, and rashes, and did I mention bloating?  If you are reading this site you are well familiar with these types of symptoms.  Yes, we ate things we were allergic to and paid the price.

Luckily, none of us have anaphylactic allergies, so our troubles were temporary, but they impacted our vacation nonetheless.  My original plan to bring food was scuttled by the long distance, limits on luggage, and restrictions on carrying food into Hawaii (no fruits allowed, etc.).  Plus, rice cakes don't travel well :(

Not having visited Hawaii before, I didn't have a good sense of what we'd find in the food stores.  As it turned out, finding food stores at all was difficult.  The area where we were staying was strictly a resort, and featured absolutely zero places to purchase groceries.  Luckily, we had rented a car, but our tourist-y path through the island unwittingly took us away from civilization.  If I was more familiar with the location, I'm sure I could have more efficiently found food stores, but as a newbie, I wandered much too far afield.

Regrettably, our hotel did not offer any types of gluten free starches at all, despite the fact that there were several restaurants.  We thought it would be relatively simple to avoid dairy, but soy was tough to identify, as was corn (cornstarch, etc).  Hidden allergens became our downfall, as the "hang loose" attitude rubbed off on us and we tried to choose appropriate foods without carefully inquiring about the ingredients.

What do you do when you're on vacation and you need to find foods without allergens?  I wish there were more websites out there like, which lays out the safe path through the Disney parks for the food-allergic.  Does anyone know of any?

Looking forward to hearing your stories and tips!

Shared with Pennywise Platter at the Nourishing Gourmet and Allergy Free Wednesday at the Tasty Alternative.


  1. Hi Lisa and welcome back!

    We haven't been on a long distance vacation yet as a family. Everything thus far has been in driving distance, and I always pack a TON of food.

    But your post here really hit home because I am traveling to New York in May with my daughter and I can't help but worry about the food situation. Primarily I'm worried about getting a Crohn's flare up or something while I'm there. There is NO way I can eat a strict SCD diet while I'm way. But I'll do my best.

    One thing I am doing in preparation for this trip is researching and locating health food stores and restaurants.

    It's a tough one.

    I'm so glad you are all back safe and I trust you had a great time. I can 100% relate and understand about the bloat and discomfort. It's terrible. Hope everyone is feeling well Lisa!!


  2. This is very timely as I am going to Hawaii in a couple weeks. We aren't staying at a resort and we have cooking facilities so I'll prepare much of our food. Can I ask which Luau you went to, if you ate the food and did you enjoy it?


    1. @ Steph ~ We went to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, and I wouldn't recommend it. The food was from a buffet and it was overcooked. The dancing was mediocre, because they split their shows into two different ones and save the best dancing for the late-night show (without food). I have a friend from Hawaii who recommended Germaine's luau, but that was based on the caliber of the dancing :) Have a great time!

  3. We did a week at Disney and 3 weeks in Costa Rica. I am guten/dairy/nightshade free. I took a few small packs each of my fav crackers, cereal and healthysnacks. I ate lots of salad, fish, fruit, stirfries, rice and used my own supplies when needed. Costa Rican food is good for g.f. people but I use the same strategy when we're doing 1- and 2-week car trips here. I find restaurants are pretty accommodating with serving plain rice, meat, fish etc and they usually can come up with some lemon juice for flavour. Although it isn't always exciting atleast I feel ok afterward!

  4. We're getting ready to do our honeymoon in Europe and practicing every possible way to say allergic to peanuts and tree nuts (him) and citrus (me) in German, Slovak, and Hungarian. I'm also trying to "learn" those words so that I can identify them on the menu. I'm ready for the German at this point...not so much the others.