a guest blog by Vera Marie Badertscher

Trying to order food in a foreign language when you are traveling can give you a belly ache.  But that belly ache can become all too real if you have to avoid particular foods that your body cannot tolerate. To the rescue—laminated cards, about the size of your driver’s license, that spell out your problem and graphically illustrate the foods that are a no-no.

Seems like such an intelligent idea. Why didn’t I think of it? All these years of travel when I tried to find a native language speaker who could explain to me how to say “I cannot eat raw or lightly cooked onions, scallions, shallots or leeks.” You would think I would have come up with the idea to manufacture cards for everyone with a similar travel problem.
But I left it to an Internet company called Select Wisely. Their line of cards goes beyond just serious food allergies (gluten free diets, peanut allergies) to include intolerances (like mine to onions) and other medical problems (diabetes, asthma, and the generalized, “Where can I find a doctor who speaks English?”).
The Select Wisely cards, come in sets of two, so if you lose one, you’re still covered.A pair of cards costs about ten dollars. The information is printed in English and the language of the country you are visiting, and they squeeze in as much information as possible. Just so there will be no misunderstanding the gluten allergy card says “I am allergic to wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy sauce, malt, flour and gluten including sauces, gravies, breads, cereals and foods processed with these ingredients.” Illustrations with the universal circle-slash meaning ‘NO!” over the food in question, make the printed message even clearer.
Having these cards available means I can eat in any language—without a belly ache.


Vera Marie Badertscher travels whenever she can, reads constantly, writes about it all from her home in Tucson, Arizona, and blogs at A Traveler’s Library (atravelerslibrary.com ). Learn more about Vera at pen4hire.com.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".