5 Tips for Travelling with Food Allergies
One of my absolute favourite things about traveling is the FOOD! Who is with me?! It’s even better when you can find amazing gluten & dairy free options. I have to admit - when travelling I sometimes cheat by eating dairy because it doesn’t put me out like gluten does. The aftermath isn’t always pleasant (maybe TMI?), but sometimes it’s worth it! Anyway - I know you don’t want to hear about me and you clicked on this post to get the 5 tips so lets get right to it!
*For those of you who wanted a post specifically on Kauai, scroll down and I will post all of my favourite restaurants and some of our favourite sights and spots to visit.
5 Tips for Travelling with Food Allergies
Be prepared - if possible pack snacks to bring with you! No one likes being hangry and this can happen when you are in a bind with no gluten or dairy free foods around! If you are on a road trip, packing your own snacks can be done easily by packing a cooler for fresh foods so you aren’t just eating processed foods! (Packing foods from home will also save you $$) If you are flying and are limited for space, try to sneak a few things in your bag and once you get to your destination hit up a grocery store so you can stock up.
*I find snacks are also helpful when you are eating out and may not find a full meal that is compliant with your dairy and/or gluten allergy and are still hungry afterwards, you are prepared! One of my favourite things to pack are protein bars - protein help keeps you full longer and keeps your blood sugar balanced for a happier traveling experience! :) (For example maybe only the fries are gluten free, you can whip out the snacks afterwards because you are probably still starving.)
Talk to the locals - This is some of my best advice if you are looking for authentic food to where ever you are traveling. They know the best spots - especially the tasty hole in the wall places! If you are in a place where English isn’t the first language, the language barrier can make it difficult, but I like to think this just adds to the adventure. I recommend learning the words for ‘gluten’ and ‘dairy’ (or whatever your sensitivity may be) depending on where you are travelling. Tell the locals about your allergies - they may know some great allergen friendly places. Don’t be afraid to ask, as awareness of sensitivities and allergies is increasing.
*We found that the best people to talk to are actually those who are transplants, temporary residents, or those who have only been there for a shorter period of time. Though not always the case, those who are from the area may not eat out as much and sometimes fail to explore what is in their own backyard (just like a lot of us) … or they just don’t want to share local secrets with tourists ;)
Take advantage of social media - I love asking for recommendations for places to eat on Facebook and Instagram. Most places these days have gluten & dairy free options so you can usually ask for general recommendations. I always search up hashtags for the place I am travelling to beforehand on Instagram eg #kauaieats #kauaifood #kauaifoodie - just swap the name for the place you are traveling. You can often direct message the restaurant or food truck on social media and ask if they have allergen friendly options. They are usually pretty good at getting back to you.
Step out of your comfort zone - It is easy to stick to the same foods you are familiar with at home, but this can cause you to miss out on so much! There is so much good food out there that we may love but we just haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Especially when you are visiting another country or even a different part of your country, they may have foods that aren’t available where you are so now is your chance to try them. I find that many ethnic foods (Asian, Latin American, etc.) naturally have many gluten free options, but you still need to be careful and ask!
Avoid tourist traps - I find that the tourist traps are often the places that have the least options for finding gluten and dairy free options as they are often Americanized, which means filled with gluten and dairy! When you see the signs that say “Best food in town!” or “Best fish taco on the island!” - whatever it may be, approach it with caution. These places may be busy because they are convenient, familiar, or well marketed. In many cases the ‘brand’ sells the food, while quality and nutrition are compromised. Our best finds have been at places with little or no advertising in tourist publications. They let their food do the talking!
*Still lured by ‘tourist traps’ or not sure what to believe? Consulting online reviews (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, etc.) or talking to locals can help you paint an accurate picture.
I’m always open to more tips so if you have some you would like to share leave a comment at the bottom!
KAUAI HOT SPOTS (according to me)
The tacos here are HUGE! Almost like a burrito. They make fresh corn tortillas every morning and they are the best I have EVER had! Better than the fresh ones I had in Mexico! Everything here is gluten free. 1 taco can fill you up - they say 2 is a full meal. Make sure you get the guac on top :)
We went here because we loved the name…Pupu… ya we are immature. The first time we went it had closed 15 minutes before and we were so sad we missed it! It’s important to check the hours of places you go to eat on the Island because they can have weird hours and close really early - like at 2pm. The fish was so fresh and was so flavourful! These poke bowls were only $6 each! If you are looking to try poke or other fast foods unique to Hawaii, it doesn’t get much more authentic (and cheaper) than this place.
A cute little ice cream shop up north in Hanalei. They have amazing flavours! I recommend the Banana Mac-Nut Brittle & the Haupia (coconut custard.) The Chocolate Chip Ripple is also very good but I feel like you can find ice cream similar to this flavour at lots of places where as the first two are so unique! I chose to get dairy ice cream however they do have vegan flavours here!
This place started out as a food truck and was obviously so good they turned it into a restaurant! A local recommended this place to us and seriously we are SO glad we went! Scott wanted to try the Loco Moco (an authentic Hawaiian dish that is beef patties and sunny side up eggs served on a bed of rice with gravy) and I was very hesitant.but it was AMAZING! We are going to try to recreate it at home! I was lucky to be able to try it because gravy usually has gluten in it, but at Kiawe roots they made a gluten free demi-cream sauce and it was to die for! It wasn’t dairy free - but worth it! We felt so loved because a stranger paid for our meal that night <3
They have a great deli for poke! So many gluten free options and the price is great! I also had a custom order Musubi here - the only place we could find gluten free Musubi on the Island!
Another great place for poke bowls! It is a bit more expensive than a grocery store deli but the fish is fresh! (Some of the grocery stores freeze their fish - although it hardly affects the taste!) The rice in the poke bowl is plain at this fish market rather than sushi rice, so depending on what you like you may want to skip the rice. They let you try the fish so you can chose your favourite flavour.
We were so HANGRY! We didn’t pack enough snacks this day and it wasn’t good. We were trying to find a place fast and it happened to be a favourite! Literally a hole in the wall. I tried the fish & carne asada taco. The fish was one of the best fish tacos I have had and the carne was really good as well! They do an amazing job with their seasonings. (The fish looks breaded but really its just lots of seasoning). I would recommend getting them a la cart because the beans and rice weren’t anything special - I would have rather had more tacos!
We hit this place up on our way to the airport (super close if you need a meal before you depart for your yucky night flight!) You get one round of chips and salsa on the house. Watch their menu because between 11-5pm you can get 2 items for $10 but we didn’t notice till after. The Al pastor tacos were two thumbs up! So much meat!
We listened to quite a few podcasts before our trip and did lots of research but had never heard of this place. Thanks to the locals we found this gem! Very decently priced sushi, huge rolls and incredibly fresh fish! I even got to try Uni (Sea urchin for the first time - not sure how I feel about it…) They had gluten free soy sauce and don’t add a lot of sauces to their sushi so there were a lot of options. Pictured here is their signature roll - the Hanalei Roll. A must try!
We met a girl working at the farmers market from our home town who had been living on Kauai the last couple of months. She told us this was her favourite Acai bowl on the island and we would agree! So many delicious toppings! The granola is gluten free, however it is made in the same facility as other gluten products so if you are celiac I would skip the granola.
A recommendation from a friend at home which we would have never found on our own because its at the back of a grocery store! Their Acai bowls are a pretty good price and we loved the fresh fruit on top. Ask for the gluten free granola!
We heard about this place on a podcast we had listened to before our trip and it was our first meal! We found a coupon in one of the travel books for a free sandwich with a purchase of a meal so it was a great deal. Scott ate the sandwich and it was a lot of food for us both. We thought the chicken was the best but all of the meats were good & all gluten free. Even the BBQ sauce which was super yummy! True to their name, they smoke their chicken in giant steel barrels on site.
Coconut Market Place (Tuesday + Thursday)
We went straight to Costco to buy snacks and thought we were so smart when we got fruit and veggies to be healthy! Big regret! We wish we just got packaged snacks from Costco and bought all of our fresh fruits and veggies from a Farmers Market.
Kapaa night market (first Saturday of the month) We were so happy we ended up being on Kauai the first weekend of the month so we could hit up this market! It was so fun and there were so many vendors! Sadly we didn’t have cash on us so we just walked around…but there was a girl selling allergen friendly cookies & brownies with superfoods and I totally wish I would have gotten one!
Again….if you have any recommendations for Kauai leave a comment! Because we definitely want to go back some day…. :)