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Tips to make travelling with a food allergy easier

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I am severely allergic to gluten and also have a mild dairy allergy, and even though I am a frequent traveller, it is not always obvious to me which dishes have either (or both!) when I am in a new place and eating unfamiliar foods.

Dr. Alyson Pidich, the medical director of the Ash Center, in New York City, and a food allergy specialist, is allergic to shellfish and, like me, knows firsthand that even so-called “safe” foods can have trace allergens that can make you ill.

There is nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Pidich highly recommended packing plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can.
There is nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Pidich highly recommended packing plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can.  (LARS LEETARU / The New York Times)

So what is a food allergy sufferer and world traveller to do? Here are some of Pidich’s tips, all of which she keeps top of mind for her own travels.

Carry a food allergy card in multiple languages

Have a card handy that lists your food allergies in the language or languages spoken at your destination. You can create your own cards with simple notecards or sturdy paper, or order them from Allergy Translation, which charges $8 (U.S.) to create one card through its app or website. (You can print as many copies of each card as you want once you place an order.)

Make sure that your cards clearly list which foods you can’t eat, rather than just stating what you are allergic to. For example, my allergy cards don’t just say that I am allergic to gluten and dairy, they say that wheat and wheat-based products such as soy and anything containing milk, including yogurt, are off-limits.

Similarly, Pidich’s cards say that she can’t eat clams, shrimp and lobster. She learned the hard way how important it is to be super specific on her cards: Her allergy card when she travelled to Tulum, Mexico, a few years ago simply said in Spanish that she was allergic to shellfish, but she was served a dish with shrimp and ended up with hives all over her body.

Order with an abundance of caution

This may sound obvious, but in an ideal scenario, you always travel with food allergy cards and the people serving you understand what you are not allowed to eat.

But say you forget your cards, or think “oh, this looks fine” because your trigger foods aren’t on the ingredient list. Pidich said that you still should not assume that what you are eating is safe. Certain foods and drinks, in particular, including sauces, salad dressings, soups and cocktails hide common allergens such as wheat, nuts, dairy and shellfish.

Restaurant cooks often use flour to thicken sauces, for example, while soups can have shellfish broth, and salad dressings are blended with soy sauce or nut oils. Ask any vegetarian or vegan what it is like to be surprised when their salad dressing has cheese in it or the vegetable soup has been prepared with chicken broth, and you will understand what it is like. In short, even if you think you are being cautious, be extra cautious.

Travel with a food stash

There is nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Pidich highly recommended packing plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can.

Consider non-perishable snacks that are carry-on safe, like powdered protein shakes (go for pea protein powder if you can because it is easy to digest and the least allergenic, compared with other, usually whey-based, powdered proteins), low-sodium jerky, low-sodium powdered soups that can be rehydrated with hot water, roasted chickpeas, nuts (as long as you are not allergic to nuts!), and dried fruits or crunchy vegetables.

Consider a hotel room or an Airbnb with a kitchen

Having access to a kitchen means you can prepare some meals for yourself. This also cuts down on the stress of not being able to find allergy-safe food to eat.

Take your allergy card with you when you go food shopping so that the people working at the supermarket or farmers’ market can steer you clear of anything you are allergic to.

Don’t forget your allergy medicine (but carry it legally)

Even if your food allergy is not severe, you should not leave home without your allergy medicine. Sure, you will want it just in case you have an uncomfortable reaction like hives or itching, but you should not assume you can buy what you need locally, depending on where you go.

In most common destinations you can, but Pidich said that it is better to pack some in your carry-on that you already know and have used. If you have a travel companion, have them carry an extra dose or two of the medicine in case you lose yours. The same goes for an Epi-Pen, if you use one. Finally, make sure you familiarize yourself with your destination’s rules and regulations about prescription (and non-prescription) medication, so you will make it through customs with your medicine.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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