Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya…
Off the Florida Keys…to a place that’s good with allergies!
Sunshine and safety were the top two thoughts in my mind on a recent trip to the Caribbean. My family and I all opted to go to an island that we’ve always dreamed of – Aruba. We heard wonderful things about it, especially that it had consistently hot weather in January, it was safe and it had great food.
I was very hands off during the booking process, and I now regret that fact. I learned the hard way that some resorts in the Caribbean are more flexible than others in terms of providing customized meals. Most have a main dining hall with buffet style food. I’ve been to resorts before where you can simply chat with the chef and have a personalized meal made for you. This wasn’t the case for me this time around as I was at a massive resort where they couldn’t do one-off meals. I ate in the general dining area, but played it very safe and didn’t even venture near the areas that had my allergens present.
Restaurants at resorts usually have much more flexibility in terms of creating safe meals for you from scratch. I had great success talking to wait staff and chefs at these nighttime dinners. They were very aware of allergens and made some adjustments to the menu for me.
Another thing to be alert about are drinks. You want to let loose on vacation, however you still need to be diligent. Some alcohols contain common allergens, especially some of the fruity and exotic drinks that they serve at resorts. Check with your bartender before blindly ordering the hotel’s “drink of the day”.
Bring U.S. money. You may hear that they will accept Canadian money at the hotel, but I have now had two experiences in the Caribbean where I needed to see a doctor (non allergy related) and they wouldn’t see me unless I paid U.S. cash. Most islands have their own currency, but U.S. money talks. Have some for an emergency on top of your travel health insurance.
I don’t have much experience with pre-packaged products, but most seemed to be imports from North America, so there are many familiar things to eat.
Once you’re ready to hit the beach, remember to bring suntan lotion from home. Not only is it likely cheaper, it’s a lot less likely to have any surprise ingredients in it.
– Kyle D.