This is one of my older posts. I no longer travel with any foods, except for the plane (there’s just no way I’m touching that mess!) and I don’t need to do most of the stuff on my checklist, but it’s useful for people just starting out.
I no longer really travel with my own food, unless I’m going for more than a few weeks. The list of stuff I take with me has changed, in keeping with my new thinking on eating a high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory diet. You’ll find tons of info on that in my newer posts.
The most important update I have is on how to prepare for potential medical emergencies…read all the way down for more.
Hey Mtv generation – remember how NASA (used to) count off the shuttle blast? My trip to Kenya is T minus seven DAYS and counting. Those crazy science type geeks had the luxury of only needing to count to 10 before catapulting their tin cans into orbit, whereas I’m dealing with, like, a histamine type thingy.
Ok, I said what now??
It’s at this point in the pre-departure frenzy that I realise it’s time for a little perspective.
When I subtract the numerical value of possibly getting sick abroad/potential stress/intense preparation from the BENEFITS of travel (lovey time with significant other, kodak moments indelibly inked into psyche, client payout, adventure!), the pros still far outweigh the cons.
Good thing too otherwise the ants in my pants would hang up their spurs in disgust.
Since that’s not going to happen any time soon, I thought I’d share my obsessive ex-CNN/BBC international news producer inspired travel tips with you.
Cooking low histamine meals for myself takes most of the stress out of travel, so I always try to book an apartment rather than a hotel. Airbnb.com has hooked me up with beautiful, cost effective, apartments or rooms in houses (when on business trips). I always check to make sure the kitchen is available for my histamine food needs, and has the bare minimum equipment-wise.
What’s the likelihood I’m going to jack up my histamine level rushing around town in microwaves (taxis) in the middle of summer? Yeah, high. Most of the not so developed world lacks AC in taxis. But one day I just said, enough! Given that I do a lot of travel to countries where the exchange rate is very much in my favour, I try to score the number of a good driver with a decent car. You’d be surprised at how little it costs to rent a nice sedan with driver in places like Egypt. Well, not that you’d want to go there right now (someday soon I hope), but you catch my drift. If the no AC situation is completely unavoidable, I try to plan long trips at night, I bring one of those little battery operated fans that squirt water in your face, load up a camelbak with ice cold water, and do a little meditation (and swearing) when we hit traffic.
T MINUS 14 DAYS (and counting…)
I usually keep a small notebook on hand with all my info. Into this goes my…
Which foods are available at my destination?
Are there organic supermarkets? If so, find their location.
What’s the local transport situation like? Do I need a driver?
What’s the local word for organic supermarket? I use google translate or buy a phrase book.
Which herbs are available in the country?
Where are the best hospitals in the areas I’m traveling to? It’s easy to dig up this info by hitting the ex-pat online forums. People are usually more than happy to advise you and there’s often lists with ratings.
EATING OUT PREP
I usually eat (at least) a little at home. I’m so over “having” to sample the menu everywhere we go and then spending the rest of the evening driving myself crazy playing an ineffective round of histamine detective. Why is it a waste of time? Kitchens are often not as clean as needed for those of us with histamine intolerance/allergies/mastocytosis etc. Bacteria = histamine. ‘Nuff said.
What are the local words for: MSG, chemicals, food flavours, freshest, just steamed please? You’d think it wasn’t an issue, but asking something as simple as “is this food free from chemicals” or “was this cooked today” can turn into a complete nightmare/screaming match where MSG (and others) are an integral part of food culture, and insinuating that food isn’t fresh is as safe as ripping off a lady’s hijab in a crowded mosque durning Friday prayers, in downtown Kabul.
You know that little card I take to restaurants? I get that printed in the local lingo. You need to be 100% sure of the translation – I usually cross reference with google translate or another native speaker.
Very important, because the idea of food allergies is not taken seriously in most countries outside the west (or even in Europe!): I usually add – “I will die if you feed me these”. You really need to give them worst case scenario. If they kick up a fuss just smile, apologise that your partner desperately wants to eat there (citing whichever guidebook) and promise to leave a huge tip. A little charm goes a really long way.
T MINUS 1 WEEK (and counting…)
Magic Bullet blender
Nut milk bag
Vacuum packed herbs (if not found locally)
Zucchini corer (I love me some stuffed zukes!)
Olive oil Japanese rice crackers
Light organic olive oil for frying (if not found locally)
Thai rice noodles
Sweet potato flour (if not found fresh)
Brown rice flour
Quick cook gluten free oats (if staying in hotel), pin head oats otherwise
Fresh fruits (if not much found locally)
Raw blue agave syrup (‘cause I’m a realist. I will break down and want something sweet at some point!)
Now this is a lot of grains for me. I usually take a ton just in case, and then end up giving them away to locals when I leave. They’re really just an emergency back up.
BATH AND BEAUTY
Yoga mat (for yoga and for folding up and standing on in the shower to prevent drain backwash)
Waterproof shoes, with a heel of some sort to wear in the shower
Africa and the Middle East aren’t known for great drains. The chemical laden backwash alone, not to mention your partner’s shower offerings (Get your mind out of the gutter! I mean shampoo) can turn a trip miserable faster than the repressed masses can overthrow a government (covered a few of those in my time…).
Meditation, chanting, healing visualisations.
I’ll post part two as my departure date approaches. T-Minus 6 days, and counting…don’t forget to check out my post on mast cell degranulation/histamine release triggers.
It is of course super duper important to follow all medical advice regarding vaccinations. Should you have any concerns, I would change travel plans to a country not requiring the vaccines. You may also want to check out my post on vaccinations here.
PREPARING FOR MEDICAL CARE OR EMERGENCIES
This is the advice I give people about to travel, in addition to following all your doctor’s and embassy’s:
Identify the nearest local hospital of decent size, have a driver you have hired who you can get to come find you on a moment’s notice. This is dicey in many second or third world countries where people don’t prioritise answering their phone or understand what constitutes an emergency. My personal choice would be to rent a car and then make sure to drive to the hospital a few times to know where it is (do not bother calling an ambulance in most Arab or African countries – mostly due to traffic). Go in to the hospital, ask to speak to a department head and see if your meds are available there. Then I would find a local fluent English speaking doctor somewhere in town near you. Get your doctor back home to call him with your specific protocol should something happen – I would especially be sure to give him the safe anaesthesia list you can find on most mastocytosis society websites, or that your doctor has. Pay this local doctor a sum to be on call for you – get his mobile number, make sure he answers 24/7 and call him a few times at weird hours to make sure. Then, if you need to be admitted somewhere, call him immediately, then your doctor in your country. Have the local guy meet you at the hospital, while on phone with your guy. Local doc will then pass on information.
It’s complicated but effective and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s finally here! Man Food – a high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredient filled book geared towards guys, women who love to work out, yoga like they mean it, or just load up on healing nutrients. Features my personal shopping list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods.
The Anti-cookbook and all liquid Anti-Detox Book, don’t treat any conditions, but feature a plethora of the high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients that have been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. The Anti-cookbook features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods and comes in regular and Paleo.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes.
Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.
Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes and sign up to my mailing list for freebies.