Going guided is the best way to travel if you have dietary requirements. Here’s why.

by | 6 Feb 2023

For those with specific dietary requirements, eating out can be a whole ordeal. One must pore through menus carefully, pick out dishes diligently, and communicate their needs effectively. In your home country it can be a bother, so how tiresome must it be when traveling? With the language barrier, unknown dishes and differences in attitudes and awareness, your dietary requirements can be especially limiting and uncomfortable. We aim to change that.

Taking a guided tour means you have someone looking out for your needs, someone who often knows the staff and speaks the language and can take care of everything. We spoke to Insight guest Victoria to hear her story and learn of her dining experience while on tour.


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“I’ve suffered with a gluten allergy for the last 10 years and a dairy allergy for the last five. I just woke up one morning, and I was eating gluten the day before and then the next day I couldn’t eat it…I think I face a lot of challenges with having both, cause that combination is not always easily accommodated for,” she told Insight.

“So I buy obviously only gluten free products and then dairy free is generally vegan based products, so that’s how I tackle those two. When I go to the supermarket, I have to read every single label before I buy something.”

Also read: These are the best countries for vegetarian dining in Europe


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“I’ve been refused service multiple times on my allergies cause people don’t want to take the risk of serving me. Multiple restaurants have also accidentally fed me gluten or dairy. Accidents happen,” Victoria says.

“When I go traveling it is such a fear of mine because the language barrier is such an issue in terms of communicating super clearly… I always have my Google Translate app ready for me to be able to explain it. It’s always a challenge. My biggest fear is that we’re going to go somewhere, there’s nothing I can eat, and then I force everyone to get up and go somewhere else.

“I’ve been served dairy multiple times, meals where after I’ve been like – that has dairy in it. The waitress then says, ‘So sorry, I didn’t really understand what you meant’. Rather than saying ‘I don’t understand’ first, sometimes people will just think, ‘oh, it’s super busy, let me just put it in anyways’ and not ask clarifying questions. That’s when I normally end up eating something by accident, because someone doesn’t want to take the responsibility to ask those further questions.”

Also read: 17 Anthony Bourdain quotes that celebrate the joy of food and travel


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At Insight, we create a seamless process between communicating your needs to the restaurant and sitting down to eat. When you book a trip, you’re provided access to an online travel portal, where you can indicate your dietary requirements, in addition to noting information like special celebrations (ex. birthday, anniversary) and special health requests (ex. necessity to store medication in a refrigerator). Also, a travel agent can include a note in your booking for you.

Travel Directors receive this information in their paperwork prior to starting the tour. With this information, a Travel Director can communicate all special dietary requirements to restaurants for included and optional experience meals, which they do well in advance of a group’s dining experience to allow time for restaurants to prepare acceptable alternatives.

A key cultural component of many countries we visit is the regional cuisine. We create a worry-free environment that allows you to fully enjoy local, authentic dishes. Our On Road Team ensure that your needs are efficiently communicated to restaurants and hotels, which means that you can travel with peace of mind and focus solely on enjoying your trip.

Also read: It all comes back to the plate: Food’s role in understanding culture


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Plus, Travel Directors are present at meals. They’ll assist the restaurant staff in identifying all guests with special dietary requirements and take time to further explain the precise needs of a particular diet or allergy, if needed.

Travel Directors also take time during meals to circulate through the room, checking in on guests and conferring with staff to make sure everything is running smoothly.

“What I loved about it was that the Travel Director was ordering for me, and she was checking everything. She said: ‘Don’t worry, I have people come on tour that have allergies. I do this all the time’, and it was the first instance where I actually had someone helping me with that. Not just with the language barrier, but also just genuinely looking out for my interests and making sure that everything was served right,” Victoria says.

“That Portugal trip is the first instance where someone else actually wanted to take responsibility for my allergies and ensure that I was being looked after… That’s the advantage I found of having someone that could speak the local language with us. But then also I know that Insight takes guests to places where there’s normally someone on staff that speaks English quite well.

“There were, I think, three vegetarians [on our tour]… The Travel Director gave them the option of either joining us to eat with the group and we’ll make sure that there’s a vegetarian option, or booking a table at another restaurant if they’d would prefer to go somewhere else. And they decided that they didn’t want to be around meat at all. So, the Travel Director got them a reservation somewhere else. So that’s why I think that the Travel Director on a trip is so key with dietary needs, because there’s always another option.”

Also read: Travel director Angela, on where to eat in Lisbon like a local

Alex is the Editor of Insightful, and has over 10 years' experience as a writer and editor within the travel industry. In his professional travels, he has been all over the world – from road-tripping in Australia and New Zealand, to eating his way around the Canadian Maritimes and criss-crossing Italy from Sardinia to Emilia-Romagna.