The top recommendation I make to my clients when it comes to traveling with food allergies is getting a food allergy chef card. And I often get the question of what is a chef card and where should I get one from?
What is a Food Allergy Chef Card?
This is a card normally the size of a business card maybe slightly bigger meant to fit in your wallet for ease of use. You can get them in paper, laminated, or even digital now. They are a great way to share your allergies with the restaurant you are eating at. From the servers to the chefs they appreciate having everything written down explaining your allergies so they can best advise you on the menu and protocols.
You’ll want to detail out your list of food allergies and can include phrasing regarding cross contamination and the need for it to be prepared in a safe space. For Tree Nut allergies I recommend listing out the nuts in particular if you are only allergic to some tree nuts. This helps them have it in list form vs relying on them to think of all the tree nuts on their own.
Where do you recommend buying food allergy chef cards?
There are so many different sites to purchase food allergy chef cards from, and it is best to review the cards and options to make sure they match what you are looking for. Most sites will do customized cards so you can add an allergy that is not commonly available or create cards for multiple food allergies.
EqualEats and Select Wisely are two popular options when you are looking for cards, especially ones in foreign languages. But if you want one to fill out on your own there are lots of downloadable free options FARE even has one with a few foreign languages as well. Plus just searching for “chef cards” will showcase options. Make sure to do your research before selecting the one that works best for you.
It is crucial when you are getting one for international travel in another language that you go with a reputable company. Trying to do Google translate and make your own may not capture the right phrasing and end up with a different meaning.
Food Allergy chef cards are a lifeline when it comes to navigating foreign language in another country.
So I only need food allergy chef cards when traveling internationally, right?
Not only do I recommend them for use when traveling but they can be used when you are at home eating out. You can send a digital copy to a restaurant to verify protocols and accommodations before arriving.
What else would be a good card to have?
If you are traveling with multiple food allergies or even going to a destination that uses your allergy as a staple in their foods carrying a card that states your safe food can be helpful. This way when you share your list of food allergies and the server feels overwhelmed you can share your safe meal. This could be something like grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, with rice and then share your food allergy card along with it. That way if you find yourself struggling to find options you can ask about a simple meal instead of relying on them to offer an option.
What type of food allergy chef card would you recommend?
I personally recommend having printed and digital when traveling. Just in case your phone dies or is lost you have a backup. Also, having extras in case one doesn’t make it back to you is helpful as well.
Food Allergy chef cards help bridge the gap between you and help to educate the server or chefs you are coming in contact with. Having this card is great but I still highly recommend speaking with your server and/or chef and going over your allergen(s) and what you are looking to have. You know your allergies best so don’t put all the weight on the card or all the weight on you, use both together to help streamline.
Have questions about traveling with food allergies? Book a Food Allergy Getaways Consultation with Lauren to discuss traveling with food allergies and go over any questions you have. This is a good option if you are just starting to think about a trip with food allergies, planning the trip yourself, or already have your trip planned.