Planning a Honeymoon with Food Allergies

When I went on my honeymoon in 2009, I didn't know I had Celiac Disease. Yet while we were traveling around Cozumel, checking out the Mayan ruins, and chowing down on the local Mexican cuisine, I had never felt better. Hindsight told me, "Well, duh. Hello, beans and rice! Most Mexican food is naturally gluten-free."

So last month as a photographer, when I ventured with Sara of Burnett's Boards to Cabo San Lucas, that was my first real resort experience as someone with a whole ton of dietary restrictions. I experienced firsthand how it felt to be fully immersed in a resort culture, make special requests at the pool bar, navigate room service, and even take part in pre-arranged formal group dinners. Thanks to the Westin Resort and Spa at Los Cabos and the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf and Spa Resort, I got to experience what it was like to be pampered through tasty treats without getting sick. Sure, I gained 10 pounds, but they were the most delicious 10 pounds ever!

Since I travel frequently for weddings and events, I thought it was high-time to have a shortlist of honeymoon travel tips for those who have dietary restrictions and food allergies. It's not always easy, but you can still have an amazing time as a newlywed!

1. Notify well in advance. Let the resort or cruise line know of your dietary restrictions when you book your honeymoon and always confirm the week before your arrival. Most all travel-related websites will have a resource of their notification requirements and timeline. This is top priority!

2. If you're flying somewhere, be sure to check on any in-flight meal options, especially for a flight more than four hours. From personal experience, Lufthansa has one of the best special meal programs I've encountered whereas Hawaiian Airlines does not accommodate any special meal requests.

If you missed the deadline to preorder, United Airlines offers a Bistro on Board option from their Spring Collection called Artisan Cheese Selection that is gluten-free (minus the separately packaged crackers). And as always, check your airlines' respective websites for the most current information.

3. Learn the local language's key phrases. While most resorts speak English due to tourism standards, one of the best things you can do is learn your dietary restriction's key phrases, especially if you venture off of your resort. One, out of respect for the local culture. And two, for added insurance you really are getting food that won't make you sick. You can find various "Dining Cards" on the internet. My personal favorites are those from you can print or download the app to show on your phone (WiFi is required to pull each card up)!

4. Consider booking lodging with a kitchen. If you have severe food allergies, it might be peace of mind to just prepare your own food so you can guarantee 100% your health during your honeymoon. While I don't have life-threatening food allergies, if I did, this would be one thing I would absolutely do for most of my meals.

5. If ordering room service, don't be afraid to ask multiple questions about ingredients. While I was at the Westin in Cabo, kitchen staff changed every day, and I had to reiterate my laundry list of food issues. The staff were already aware of them on the greater level, but not everyone was clued in. It's okay to ask about what's in your food; you aren't high maintenance. Special requests are what the hospitality industry is all about! Safe food is greater than a potential hospital visit, am I right?

6. Pack emergency meals. No matter how much planning you do, you just never know. When I went to France years ago, I was so disappointed at the lack of gluten-free options available. In the city of culinary genius, Paris came up dry when it came to accessible gluten-free friendly fare. It was a potato, eggs, and chocolate kind of week for that trip, and I wish I had my GoPicnic meals then. Shelf-stable and amazing little individually-wrapped treats, I now take GoPicnic boxes with me everywhere as my "just in case."

7. Research online local restaurants, reviews, and other valued resources before you go. There are so many websites and better food allergy awareness than ever before so finding a starting point is easy. Pinterest is my first start when it comes to food allergy research and then I go to TripAdvisor. I always at least find confidence that I'll be fine no matter where I go. You can see my Cabo trip research board on Pinterest.

8. Give back and help out when you return from your honeymoon! Leave online reviews, good and bad, for the places you visited. The food allergy awareness mentioned in #7 is only because of great people who shared their experiences. Restaurants and dining establishments will only get better when they know the demand and need are there. In the five years I have been actively traveling, airports are slowly transforming and are now offering better gluten-free choices in their mini-markets throughout different terminals. I could have cried when I saw the pre-made gluten-free sandwich and gluten-free cookie meal option at Chicago O'Hare in April!

Do you have any tips or experiences to share from your honeymoon? Please share below!

Lil Disclaimer and Thank You:
Accommodations, meals, activities, drinks, and transportation were all provided by the Westin Resort and Spa at Los Cabos and Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf and Spa Resort Los Cabos when I accompanied Burnett's Boards, and the opinions and photos taken and featured in this post are all my own.

My top thank you goes to Sara because she invited me as her photog guest and travel buddy for this incredible adventure! I also have to give a big thank you for the compassionate friends I was with who never blinked an eye at my food requests or issues because they are just overall awesome people. Gracias, Chandra, Heather and Kerry, Linda, Alison, Jessica, Mikkel, Stephanie, and Angela... but last, but not least, Cindy and Juan Pablo at the Westin and Viviane at the Sheraton for making me feel normal at all the meals! Rice and beans!