Mozo guides

Best destinations for travellers with dietary requirements

Collage of a pizza slice chasing a chef with gluten intolerance while travelling on holiday.

World cuisines are lovely and diverse, but if you have dietary restrictions, travelling can feel extra stressful.

Food labelling and language barriers can sometimes make things tricky, and if your diet is more medical than lifestyle, no one wants to get sick on holiday. Studies estimate up to 25% of Australians have a food intolerance – that’s a lot of travellers who need to be careful.

So no matter what foods you’re avoiding, here is what you need to know about eating abroad with international travel, and how travel insurance could affect you.

Pre-departure preparation

Collage of a suitcase on a smartphone.

Before you take off, here are some tips for how to travel with a dietary requirement.

Get a translation app

If you’re going to a place with a language barrier, download a translation app, like Google Translate. These apps are excellent at translating text, speech, and even photos captured through your smartphone camera in real time. Plus, you may learn a few nifty phrases. “Gluten frei, bitte!”

Let the airline know

Many long-haul flights these days let you select dietary options ahead of time, especially if you’re anaphylactic to peanuts, and most menus will be labelled. Let people know politely, and they’ll be happy to assist. As a happy bonus, most airlines bring out special diet-friendly meals first. Score!

Pack your pills and snacks

Don’t forget your pills and potions when packing your bags. Put anything mission-critical in your carry-on, along with a doctor’s note or allergy plan if relevant. 

Research any drug restrictions at your destination ahead of time, too. Be prepared to declare anything when passing through customs. Some countries may limit the amount of medication you can bring, or prohibit certain drugs altogether.

It’s also worth packing diet-friendly snack options in your carry-on. Certain foods are subject to travel restrictions, too, so look up the rules ahead of time.

Research ahead of time

Research is key if you're travelling on a diet. Get across the local cuisines, what restaurants you’d like to check out, and any local rules or regulations (particularly around medications or how a country assigns food safety labels). A little reading ahead of time could save you a lot of grief down the road.

See what the locals and fellow travellers think

Many online communities have arisen around shared diets, especially coeliac disease/gluten intolerance, veganism, or anaphylaxis. Look at what the locals and other travellers reckon are the best places to eat, including their tips on how to get by. Who knows – you might make new friends to meet up with when you get there!

Buy travel insurance

While not every preexisting condition is eligible for coverage, it’s a good idea to compare travel insurance policies and find one that could help reimburse emergency medical expenses. This is especially handy if your food restriction is life-threatening, like anaphylaxis, though your provider may require you to get a medical assessment before covering your condition.

Read the policy’s product disclosure statement to get the terms and conditions of your coverage, including which intolerances or allergies may be eligible.

Diet-friendly travel destinations

Collage of a traveller cringing when offered junk foods she can't eat because of her dietary restrictions.

Most Australians visit the ‘big three’ when travelling abroad, i.e. the UK, USA, and New Zealand. These countries are diet-friendly, depending on where you go, so they make for great and reliable options. 

However, if you’re keen to expand your horizons, here are some diverse options for different dietary restrictions.

Gluten-free

A tray of Mexican tacos and corn chips with salsa, guac, and pico de gallo.
Tacos from Mexico? Yum!
  • Mexico
  • India
  • Vietnam

Anyone who can’t have gluten will tell you: rice and corn are the best! Luckily, these three countries have local cuisines that embrace this dynamic duo with deliciousness. 

Indian cuisine, in particular, tends to eschew grains like wheat (though be wary of naan), while authentic Mexican menus are love letters to maise. Masa harinha, anyone?

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) from Vietnam also makes for a delicious, gluten-free meal, though be sure to ask for tamari sauce instead. Wholesome broths and spring rolls, here we come!

Bonus recommendation: Norway, in recent years, has fallen in love with the taco. Why not check out the northern lights while chowing down on a Scandi fish taquito?

Vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, egg-free, and dairy-free

Paddu, little puffed rolls with dip, from South India.
Paddu from South India (a traditional breakfast).
  • India
  • Taiwan
  • Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)

Vegans consistently rank India as one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world. Not only is beef not on the menu, but a whole host of delicious veggies, spices, and kinds of rice are. 

Taiwan also comes as a surprising recommendation. Who would’ve thought? But government-advised “Meatless Mondays” and a wonderfully thriving Buddhist population make this an unmissable destination for vegans. 

The Nordic countries have also established an excellent reputation for delicious vegan-friendly meals. Pescetarians will fall in love with the plentiful seafood – surströmming, anyone?

Those with shellfish allergies might benefit from visiting vegan countries, though most tourist-heavy coastal areas will have facilities on hand to deal with allergic reactions. You might be safer on the beach than inland!

Halal

A buffet of food floats on a crystal clear blue pool in the Maldives.
A floating spread from the Maldives. So gorgeous!
  • The Maldives
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

Anywhere with an Islamic population will have at least a few fantastic halal restaurants and hotels. Many countries also have labelling requirements for foods claiming to be halal so that you can shop with peace of mind.

However, when it comes to a certified halal adventure, Southeast Asian countries like the Maldives, Singapore, and the Land of Smiles itself – Thailand – are iconic. 

The Maldives make for a beautiful oceanic experience, while South Thailand is a renowned Islamic hotspot. Singapore might also have one of the best airports in the world and a host of fantastic sights once you land. Let the wanderlust flow!

Kosher

Knotted Challah bread on a slate board with an indigo linen wrap and sprigs of rosemary.
Challah bread from France. Ready to tear and share along the Seinne!
  • Canada
  • France

We all know New York has some of the best delis in the world – but little known fact, so does Montreal! Canada and France’s significant Jewish populations make them some of the best destinations for those seeking kosher food abroad. Why not picnic with Matzah soup beneath the Eiffel Tower? Snack on some perfectly boiled bagels by Niagara Falls?

Nut allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, cashews, etc.)

A spread of handmade Italian mozzarella and ham pizzas with giant rock and basil leaves.
Oven-baked pizzas from Italy. So sumptuous and smokey.
  • Italy
  • Canada

Despite the prevalence of tree nuts such as walnuts in pesto, Italy can be a surprisingly safe country for people with nut allergies. Much like Canada, Italy’s strict food labelling laws, minimalist cooking, and accommodating restaurants create a safe overall dining environment.

FODMAPs

Ba wan, meatball street food from Taiwan in a blue and white porcelain bowl with chopsticks and beautiful wooden platters.
Ba wan (meatball streetfood) from Taiwan, steamed to perfect. Time to master the chopstick!
  • Taiwan
  • Italy

FODMAPs-free is a highly diverse diet, so narrowing down specific countries can be tricky. But the most common FODMAPs triggers – garlic and onion – are astoundingly easy to avoid in Taiwan and Italy.

Taiwanese Buddhist vegan cuisine excludes garlic and onion, not just meat, from cooking. And while Italian food usually embraces these herbs, it also has an impressive number of options without them, such as carbonara.

Why Australia is still one of the best destinations for food allergies

A bowl of Australian prawns with two whiskeys on a dock, with crystal blue ocean water beyond.
Iced prawns with a view and cheeky brew. Is this isn't nice, what is?

No place like home, eh? While the past two years may have us sick of it, Australia is still one of the best places in the world to travel if you have food allergies. 

Not only does Australia have one of the highest rates of food allergies in the world (nearly 2 in 100 adults), but strict food safety laws mean dining out can be an inclusive affair. 

But a domestic trip doesn’t have to be a boring one. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Don’t forget your domestic travel insurance.

Compare international travel insurance policies below.

Compare international travel insurance - last updated 21 February 2024

Search promoted travel insurance below. Advertiser disclosure Important information on terms, conditions and sub-limits.
  • International Travel Insurance
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    Yes
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    $5,000 limit per policy with option to increase limit

    Get protection in a few simple steps with Freely travel insurance all in the palm of your hand. Freely Travel offers 24/7 emergency and medical support, 24/7 customer service. Plus, you can tailor your policy so you only pay for what you need, and adapt your cover in near real time. Add-ons such as car rental excess, snow sports or other activities also available. Receive 10% off your travel insurance policy with promo code: MOZO10. T&Cs apply, go to site for full detail.

    Details
  • Mozo Expert Choice Badge
    Comprehensive
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    No
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    Unlimited

    Enjoy unlimited medical cover and 24/7 emergency assistance services when you travel. Get unlimited cover for cancellation fees and prepaid travel expenses. Cover for luggage and travel documents. $5,000,000 personal liability cover.

    Details
  • Comprehensive
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    Yes
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    Choose $10,000 to Unlimited

    Backed by the NIB, one of Australia’s largest travel insurance providers, Travel Insurance Saver brings you peace of mind on your travels. Compare three tiers of insurance cover, featuring benefits like 24 hour emergency assistance, emergency medical cover, luggage cover, cancellation cover and more.

    Details
  • Mozo Expert Choice Badge
    International Comprehensive Single
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    Yes
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    Choose $2,500 to Unlimited

    Enjoy the security of single trip cover on your next holiday with Southern Cross Travel Insurance. Get 24 hour emergency assistance, cover for cancelling or changing your journey before you leave, protection for lost, stolen or damaged goods as well as cover to replace lost or stolen cash, banks or travel documents. Be in to win 1 of 5 $1,000 cash prizes! T&Cs Apply. Offer ends 30 September 2023.

    Details
  • Mozo Expert Choice Badge
    Top
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    Yes
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    Unlimited

    Be covered for international overseas and medical expenses. Emergency medical assistance 24 hours/365 days a year. Cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits. Cover for luggage and personal money. Dependents covered free of charge (conditions apply). Limited COVID cover available. Cancellation cover for COVID claims limited to $3,500.

    Details
Evlin DuBose
Evlin DuBose
RG146
Senior Money Writer

Evlin, RG146 Generic Knowledge certified and a UTS Communications graduate, is a leading voice in finance news. As Mozo's go-to writer for RBA and interest rates, her work regularly features in Google's Top Stories and major publications like News.com.au.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Travel Insurance Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.