Attention all solo female travellers! If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the beautiful beaches and stunning rice terraces of Bali on your own but allergies have held you back, this blog post is for you. I understand the struggle and I’ve got your back! After years of travel experience, I’ve compiled 8 tried and tested tips that will help you navigate Bali while managing your allergies. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned traveller, this is a must-read guide for you!
Before we start
Before jumping in, I want to write in black on white that I’m not a doctor. I will only give the best advice I can based on my allergies and how I safely travel anywhere without risking ending up in the hospital.
I’m allergic to Lipid Transfer Protein which can be found in fruits, nuts, soy, shellfish and corn…The list goes on and on… Out of my long list, my soy allergy is the most powerful to the point where I can’t even breathe the smell of soy sauce. My throat would shrink until I started suffocating.
But that has never stopped me from travelling alone and all around the world. Are you ready? Let’s go!
#1 Book your accommodation wisely
To maximize your travel experience, I highly recommend selecting accommodations with a fully-equipped kitchen or access to one. Personally, I prefer to reserve an Airbnb, homestay, or aparthotel for the initial days of my stay. This ensures convenience and flexibility for meal preparation, adding an extra touch of comfort to my journey.
This is because I’m not sure which restaurants I can go to just yet. So, as soon as I get there I would go to the supermarket and get everything I’m not allergic to that I can cook or have as a snack when hungry. The other reason why I would rather have a kitchen in hand is that even if eating out seems okay, there will always be something I’m allergic to in small portions which slowly makes me feel ill. So having the chance to cook is always great, especially in countries where you know you might struggle or have never been before.
In my case, when I go to the supermarket I get eggs, bread, fruit I’m not allergic to and dark chocolate. It works well with my allergies and it gives me some energy!
#2 Google translate is your best friend
Use Google Translate or ask a local friend to write down your allergies in the local language so that you can use them for restaurants. Not everyone speaks English so having a list of food you’re allergic to in the local language is always a good idea.
Similarly, when you go to the supermarket or want to translate a menu, use the camera function of Google Translate and check the ingredients in real-time. I spend ages in supermarkets scanning ingredient lists with Google Translate!
#3 What to do on long flights
I want to say always bring your own food on long flights but I understand it’s not always possible, especially for long-haul flights. Eating on the plane if you have food allergies could be very painful, sometimes I’ve been on long flights without being able to eat anything. However, these are the tips I’ve learned in my experience:
- If you have severe allergies you should let the crew members know immediately. For example, I’ve been on flights where they would have an announcement saying none should have food containing nuts as someone on board had severe nuts allergies.
- See if your airline has a dietary requirements policy. You can select a bland, dairy-free or vegetarian meal on Emirates and many other airlines. You can find this under their website’s “manage your booking” section.
- If you try a good restaurant or cafe at the airport, make a note. This will be very helpful next time you will change flights and you are super hungry. For example, I found a delicious burger place at Dubai airport, which I didn’t get any reaction to so I always go to the same one. I also found a great noodle place in Kuala Lumpur that I know I can count on before jumping on my next flight.
- Tell the hostess about your allergies even when they are not severe/life-threatening. Sometimes I couldn’t eat anything provided by the airlines but the flight attendant gave me some fruit or food replacement.
#4 The restaurant tracker
As soon as you find a restaurant that works for you, save it on Google Maps. There will be times when you can’t eat anywhere and you will have to count on what you already know even if it means travelling a bit.
#5 Travel health insurance
I cannot stress this enough. Especially if you have allergies you should make sure you are always covered with health insurance. Not only that but you need to read exactly what you’re supposed to do in case of an emergency… For example, sometimes you have to call the insurance provider before seeing a doctor.
#6 Bring your meds
When I travel, I always bring my life-saving tablets in my suitcase, backpack, key holder and sometimes in my wallet.
Bringing your own medicines is important in case you can’t find the same ones or they are prescribed or anything happens and you need them immediately.
The same goes with SPF, I always need to bring my own one because I would get a skin reaction to most of the SPF creams out there!
#7 Try custom food deliveries
If you are lucky enough, you can find custom-made meals such as salads, smoothie bowls or fried rice from food delivery providers. For example, I found Bangkok really hot on this, I got lots of food deliveries which were completely safe for me. Quite similar in Bali although they weren’t as thorough as in Bangkok. On both occasions, I used the “Grab” app.
#8 Don’t be scared
Unless you categorically can’t travel because of the severity of your allergies, I would like to say don’t be scared. In my experience, I only had severe reactions in my home town rather than whilst travelling. Yes, you need to be careful but that wouldn’t be much harder than being in your own country. There might be countries or cities where you will struggle more based on your allergies. For instance, Vietnam and Malaysia were really difficult for me so I ended up eating plain burgers, pizza and plain rice. The fact that sometimes I can’t eat local food really upsets me but I’m also feeling grateful because I had the chance to travel even if that meant eating whatever I can within my dietary limits.
Sometimes travelling with allergies could sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be! I hope you found these tips useful and are ready for your next solo adventure.
Ciao for now,