There isn’t anything much more stressful when you have food intolerances than giving your total trust to someone who is serving you food – which is essentially what you have to do for the entirety of any flight you took. It obviously doesn’t help that the the is aircraft travelling 35,000ft above the ground, so you really don’t have anywhere else to turn!
Flying 23 hours to Australia is probably the longest I’ve ever had to trust that what was being served to me was ok to eat – and over the course of many other long haul flights I’ve defos learnt the dos and don’ts. Essentially kids, it’s all in the preparation. Because let me tell you, there is NOTHING worse than being hangry somewhere over the ocean!
Find below my 10 tips to flying longhaul with intolerances!
1. Look online to see the meal options as soon as you’ve booked your flight.
Often they will have ‘vegetarian’, ‘gluten free’, ‘low lactose etc’ and if you only have one intolerance, or low severity, this actually might be you sorted. Unfortunately in my experience, airlines are pretty rubbish at catering for double intolerances (dairy AND gluten is a nightmare!) Having said that, I have found that the gluten free meals are generally MOSTLY dairy free too. So I usually select gluten free and then call the airline, as described below…
2. Call the airline ahead of time
It’s not unreasonable as a passenger to request your needs to be catered for, so explain your intolerances and ask what they can do. Unfortunately sometimes they will only offer you a very bland option – on a very memorable 11 hour flight to San Fran I was only offered fruit, because that was the only totally safe DF & GF option (that was Virgin Atlantic…!) If so in this scenario head to number 3…
3. Pack snacks. Literally, all the snacks
As many as you can fit in and of variety! Even if you have selected an appropriate meal – you never know what might actually end up in front of you. Always best to have yourself covered so you don’t starve.
4. Know the rules
It is worth knowing that countries like the US, New Zealand and Australia do have a restriction on what food can be bought into the country. The US don’t allow meat and dairy products for example, whilst Australia also prohibits grains, nuts and seeds. Quite annoying if you have packed snacks but they do sometimes check bags into the airport – so always best to leave any leftovers on the plane (sorry!)
5. Pack homemade sandwiches and teabags
Homemade sandwiches are really easy, are filling and you have the peace of mind knowing you made them. You can take these on your flight out to your destination and also on your return. If you can get a lunchbox going, then that’ll protect any squashing! Would also recommend bringing on any soothing teas you find help your tummy, like peppermint tea. The plane will always have hot water available and this can be a really comforting thing to do when you’ve been in the air for a long time.
6. Explore the supermarkets
Don’t forget to explore options in supermarkets in your destination! You could find lots of other good options which you could take on the flight back.
7. Be sensible kids
This is a boring one – but try to avoid alcohol and drink LOTS of water. Altitude can have a funny impact on the stomach, as well as you will dehydrate quicker. Avoiding alcohol & drinking water can definitely help sooth the stomach.
8. Travel with your medication in hand luggage
If you have Crohns like me, or IBD or any other serious medical condition, you absolutely MUST carry your medication in your hand luggage. Even if you have medical sharps or injections, it’s essential it is on your person and not in the hold. Not least because you probably need to take it over a period of 24 hours anyway! I will be doing another blog post on travelling with medication – but make sure you have all your meds on you.
9. Essentially always prepare with provisions & make sure the airline are aware.
AND ENJOY IT! I always try to see a long haul flight as ‘me’ time with no distraction. Listen to podcasts, watch movies, write in your journal – make it time that feels good. And don’t forget to get some shut eye to try and get ahead of the jetlag!
We flew Singapore Airlines to and from Australia and I was honestly so impressed. I opted for a gluten free meal and it was almost 70% dairy free too – I even got vegan butter with my GF roll and soya milk! Would highly recommend this airline for comfortable longhaul flying.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. What are your experiences flying longhaul? Share your stories in the comments or over on my Instagram, @bryonyehopkins.