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The perfect minimalist summer travel wardrobe starts with the perfect travel shirt

Minimalist Travel Wardrobe Ideas

I travel a lot, and I really hate lugging around extra stuff. So when it comes to packing light I have a super minimalist attitude.

If you’re looking to put together your own minimalist summer travel packing list, I have a few ideas for you. While I don’t have all of these exact pieces, I do have similar ones that I know work together and are versatile enough for everything I do while traveling.

The Perfect Travel Shirt

Start with a simple graphic t-shirt that you can wear with anything. The DaringMigration exclusive “This Is My…” collection t-shirt is that shirt.

Let’s be real. If you’re planning a minimalist travel wardrobe, you’re going to wear the same thing more than once. Might as well own it, right?

The “This Is My Shirt” travel t-shirt is a classic relaxed shape, with smooth, light weight, high quality fabric, beautiful simple typography, and it goes with everything. It’s basically the perfect travel tee shirt.

Wear it with a skirt or cut offs. Tuck it, untuck it, or half tuck it. Roll the sleeves for a fierce look, or let them loose to protect your shoulders from the sun. You can even rock the “graphic tee over maxi” look to give yourself even more outfit options.

Get this one right here at DaringMigration

Shop the entire “This Is My…” collection.


Black Maxi Dress

A flowy dress lets air circulate, keeping you cooler than tight fitting clothes would. If a maxi dress isn’t your thing, swap this out for a shorter simple black dress.

Get this on on amazon.

a simple black dress, especially a flowy on with pockets, is an essential for minimalist summer travel


Turquoise Ring

I love the turquoise ring I bought while vintage shopping in SanFrancisco’s Mission district. Something about a turquoise ring just makes a casual outfit feel more complete.

Get this one on Etsy.

accessorize with a minimal turquoise ring to keep your minimal travel wardrobe simple


Long Cardigan

Even if you’re traveling to the tropics this summer, make sure you pack at least one warmer layer to survive long flights and frigged air conditioning.

Get this one on amazon.

it can get cold even when traveling in the summer from cold planes to blasting air conditioning pack a cardigan in your minimalist summer wardrobe to stay cozy


Tropical Bikini

I love the tropical leaves on this bikini. I also love that the top is plain black, so I could wear it under my perfect travel tee shirt, or a black dress without feeling like a wild pattern is showing through. If that’s your thing though, go for it!

Just make sure you feel great in whatever swimsuit you pack. And if you plan on getting in the water, pick a size that’s slightly smaller than you think you need. Swimwear expands an gets heavier when it’s saturated, so it needs to be pretty snug when you try it on. Otherwise you risk a serious wardrobe malfunction once you hit the water.

Get this one one amazon.

pack a bathingsuit you feel fantastic in so you don't regret your choice on arrival


Black Birkenstocks

I’ve been wearing my black Birkenstock Arizonas since I bought them in Hong Kong way back in 2015. They’ve been amazing travel sandals and they’ve held up really well. They do need to be resoled now though, so I might consider buying a different style while we’re in Bali.

Pro Tip: Birkenstock is one Western brand I’ve found that’s reliably less expensive in Asia than the US. A lot of Western brands are more expensive in parts of Asia because of import taxes. But for whatever reason, real Birkenstocks from an official Birkenstock store are around $20 less expensive than the US. If you’re headed out this way, consider going shoe shopping on your trip.

Or, get this pair on amazon.

birkenstocks are a great choice for a minimal summer wardrobe since they can be dressed up or down and they are comfortable enough to wear all day


Mini Skirt

One of the things I love about a simple graphic tee is that you can wear it with everything, even a mini skirt. If you’ve feeling extra fancy, go for a sequined one.

Get this simple gray mini skirt on amazon.

the perfect travel shirt goes with everything, even mini skirts


Black Jeans

Dress them up, dress them down, wear them to the movies, mall, or out to dinner. My travel wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without a pair of black skinny jeans.

Get these on amazon.

black jeans are a staple for a minimalist summer travel wardrobe


Cutoff Shorts

I am loving the way high wasted cut off shorts look with a classic t-shirt that’s tied at the waist. It also looks great half tucked in the front.

I just bought a pair of high wasted Levi 501 button fly cut off shorts in Bali. I bought them from a boutique, but I have my suspicions that they’re fake. While I don’t typically condone fakes, they still look cool so I’m wearing them anyway. Fashion gods, please forgive me.

Get this pair on Etsy .

pack a pair of comfy cut off shorts in your minimal travel wardrobe for casual days



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Just a few items will fill so many gaps in your summer travel wardrobe. While you might want another shirt or two, or even another pair of shoes, starting with the classics is a great way to start building your travel wardrobe.

If you love these ideas, share them!

minimalist summer travel wardrobe




Introducing the Digital Nomad Collection

I’m a digital nomad – a remote worker and constant traveler. But I’ve been thinking lately about other nomads – Roma, Masai, Bedouin – people who have lived a nomadic lifestyle for hundreds if not thousands of years.

These people were the OG’s of wanderlust. Or maybe more appropriately, to use a phrase from Andrew Henderson, going where they were treated best.

Here’s the thing – I might decide to go to Thailand or Indonesia because there’s great food, friendly people, and affordable rents. But these OG nomads traveled seeking literal greener pastures for their livestock, or fleeing from war or persecution.

I’m incredibly fortunate that I have the ability to travel because I want to. I’m not compelled to move around as a matter of survival.

If I’m going to claim the term “nomad”, I thought it was only fair to honor some of the people who have come before me, traveling for decidedly less indulgent reasons, living a life where nowhere and everywhere was home.

In that spirit, I created the “Digital Nomad” tee shirt collection. It features historical nomad figures that have been re-imagined as modern digital nomads. The collection currently features T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and Bronisława Wajs (Papusza) with more to come.

Now, when someone sees your sweet new tee shirt and asks “who’s that?”, you can tell them about an inspiring person who paved the way for us to proudly use the term “nomad”.

You can buy these shirts right here. They’re the perfect gift for travelers and digital nomads.


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If you love these Digital Nomad shirts, share them on Pinterest!


San Francisco Mission District Itinerary | Vintage and Souvenir Shopping

I have an issue with souvenirs.

It’s not that I can’t find them or that I pay too much. Trust me. I’m really good at shopping and finding deals.

Nope. My problem is that I always seem to find souvenirs to remember a trip that were in fact created to represent an entirely different place.

A few sad examples- all from the same trip to San Francisco – illustrate my failures.

San Francisco Souvenir Fail #1

I bought this awesome vintage road runner pin in the Mission District and showed Tony.

Tony: Cool – to remember your roadrunner friend in Austin?
Me: …no. To remember San Francisco. …I don’t know how to do souvenirs do I?

San Francisco Souvenir Fail #2

Later, I bought a vintage Boy Scout shirt with all kinds of neat patches on it.

Tony: Oh cool! You found a California Boy Scout shirt!
Me: Um…it’s from a troop in Arizona. Jesus. I’m really bad at souvenirs.

San Francisco Souvenir Fail #3

A few days later I threw on a new sweatshirt.

Tony: [sees the Santa Monica logo on the sweatshirt] I like your new sweatshirt. Hey, now you have something you bought in San Francisco that represents California.
Me: …I bought it in Austin. I swear I’m not doing this on purpose.

I don’t always fail at souvenirs so hard, but now it’s kind of a running joke. Kat bought something on a trip? Where’s it really from?

The truth is, I actually like my weirdly inaccurate souvenirs. And locational appropriateness aside, I am pretty good at finding unique souvenirs. So while I might be terrible at picking souvenirs that obviously represent a place, they make great memories, and you can totally trust me for pointing you in the direction of where to shop for them.

With that in mind, here’s my itinerary for a day of souvenir and vintage/thrift shopping along Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.


Curry Up Now

Image via CurryUpNow – used with permission

Indian street food with some fusion thrown in for fun. We liked the gluten free curry burritos on a previous trip and I would love to try the Indian inspired poutine – sweet potato fries with curry on top.


Have I ever told you French fries are my favorite food? Yep, I spent years cooking fancy food in high-end restaurants, and I have the same favorite food as a 9 year old. Frjtz was perfect for pre-keto me, since a huge section of their menu is basically French fries with stuff on them.

What stuff, you ask? Oh, just delicious things like braised pulled pork, Philly cheese steak toppings, or for a lighter option olive oil, feta, and herbs.

This place is kind of on the expensive side but you’ll get really good portion sizes and the fries are delicious and filling. If you fuel your body with carbs, this is great place to load up.

Other Options

In the interest of keeping you moving in one direction down the street, I’ve left a few more food and beverage options for a bit later. If you’re not feeling what you’re seeing on this block, do a bit of shopping first, then get food in a couple of blocks.

Mission District Souvenir and Vintage Shopping

Community Thrift Store

Community Thrift is a great place to shop for unique, cheap souvenirs in the mission district in San Francisco

This thrift store is similar to Goodwill, but since it’s stocked with stuff from people who live in the area there are sometimes San Francisco gems hidden in the racks. It’s not curated which means you’ll find much better deals, but you’ll have to put in some effort to find said deals.

Look for local sports t-shirts and tech conference tees, or scour the home-wear section for cool coffee mugs. Keep and eye out for awesome jackets and coats. When San Francisco’s mid-summer chill catches you by surprise, you won’t have to fall back on an overpriced souvenir hoodie.

You never now what kinds of good stuff you’ll find here. I randomly, found the power adapters Tony and I are using in Bali right now plus a couple others we’ll need for another leg of our trip. Total cost for 4 adapters: 56 cents.

If you enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to vintage and thrift shopping, this is your place.

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley is an iconic spot in the Mission district san francisco

OK, it’s not shopping, but you’ll be walking by this iconic San Francisco alley anyway so take a few minutes to explore. Take some photos of the impressive street art. You’ll instantly get more Instagram cred, and learn a little about neighborhood in the process.

Therapy Stores

quirky gifts and souvenirs from Therapy Shops in the mission san francisco

This is the closest thing to an actual San Francisco souvenir shop on this itinerary but not to worry, it’s full of fun and quirky items. Get a dainty ring, an enamel pin that looks like a bowl of pho, or a cheeky desk plaque.

You can even get actual California and San Francisco themed merch here, like aluminum water bottles with the I Love You California bear on them (it’s a public domain design, so you’ll see lots of variations on it around town), or a super cute dish towel featuring famous places around San Francisco.

Everlane Store

one of only a couple brick and mortar stores, everlane has a shop in san francisco's mission district

Love Everlane’s online store? Good news! They have a brick and mortar store on Valencia, so you can get lots of the same classic basics they sell online minus shipping costs.

They have a spin on their 100% Human line just for the San Francisco store, featuring an exclusive  “100% SF” design. A portion of each 100% SF purchase goes to Dolores Street Community Services which helps low income families right here in the Mission.

Well made tees at a reasonable price, representing SF, that actually send money toward something good? It’s such an obvious choice even I bought one. See? I’m not always bad at souvenirs.

Afternoon Tea, Coffee, Snack, or Late Lunch

Samovar Tea Lounge

Samovar Tea Lounge in san francisco's mission discrict is a great place for an afternoon snack while vintage or souvenir shopping

If you skipped lunch or just need a snack, Samovar has some great options. Their avocado toast looks great (I didn’t try it – no GF bread option), and I can personally vouch for their “egg jar” (brown rice, sauerkraut, smoked salmon, and a poached egg) which sounds a little weird but tastes amazing. They also have a few baked goods – some of which are GF.

And of course, they have tea. I’ve been off coffee for a while in an effort to chill the F out, so I love having a really high quality tea option in the middle of a shopping day. They specialize in chai lattes and other milk tea concoctions but you can also get a straight up tea if that’s your thing.

Not to worry, if you’re more into coffee breaks or you need a more substantial lunch, there are options just down the street.

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen

pica pica arepa kitchen is a great 100% gluten free option while you're shopping in the mission

Need a bigger meal than Samovar? Check out Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen. It’s a Venezualan restaurant specializing in corn pockets stuffed with tender beef, crispy gluten free fried chicken, and other tasty options. Bonus, their entire menu is gluten free.

Four Barrel Coffee

four barrel coffee roasts their own beans in the mission district san francisco- always a good sign

Need to swap out your afternoon tea break in The Mission for a coffee break? Try Four Barrel coffee. They roast their own coffee in the back – always a good sign – and it’s got the stamp of approval from a friend who’s a coffee roaster and recent SF transplant. Plus they have some pretty cool merch including pins, notebooks, keychains, and mugs. Kill two birds with one stone and get your coffee and an authentic San Francisco souvenir at the same time.


cream makes made to order icecream sandwiches in the mission district san francisco with vegan and gluten free options

If you need a sweet treat, Cream has made to order iced cream sandwiches. Not only that, they have gluten free *and* vegan options.

The best made to order ice cream sandwich I’ve ever had was from a place called Diddy Riese in LA’s Westwood neighborhood (near UCLA). I remember the line going down the block and the wait was worth it. This was before I went gluten free and in the following years I basically gave up on the idea of a gluten free made to order ice cream sandwich.

While Cream wasn’t as good as I remember Diddy Riese being, it certainly scratched the itch.

More Mission Vintage and Souvenir Shopping

No. Vintage

No. Vintage has a currated collection of thrift and vintage items in the mission, but it's a little more expensive than less well currated palces

A vintage and thrift store that focuses on men’s and women’s apparel, this store is right up my alley. This is where I purchased my vintage Boy Scout shirt, and my newest locationaly inappropriate souvenir acquisition – a vintage NC State gym shirt.

What can I say? I was born in NC.

Prices are on the high side and I wouldn’t expect to find any major steals here. But it is totally worth a look around.


Farnsworth mid century modern collection bleeds california cool in the mission district san francisco

This store has a small but really well curated selection of vintage home goods that are the definition of Northern California mid-century cool. This kind of curation comes at a price though and it’s not always easy to purchase larger home goods while traveling. Lucky for me they also have a few equally well selected stationary items including some neat pens from Japan.

Naturally, in a San Francisco store that bleeds California, I bought the Japanese pen.

In my defense it’s a really good pen.

Stuff Vintage

watches at stuff vintage, my favorite place to go vintage shopping in san franciscos mission district

This is my favorite vintage shop in the Mission, and it’s where I’ve found some of my favorite souvenirs from SF. The turquoise ring I wear every day is from this shop, as well as my vintage Star Trek TNG mug featuring my favorite character, Data (he’s tied for first with Captain Picard.)

Lest you think this place is just for nerds, I also scored an amazing (Uh. May. Zing.) deal on an authentic vintage Balenciaga “First” here.

This shop is a dream for vintage shopping enthusiasts, especially if you’re less into vintage clothing and more into home goods, jewelry, accessories, and art. It features two floors packed with great finds and I can’t recommend it enough.

Bonus Location – KitTea Cat Cafe

Sadly this was the only spot I missed. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I was on day 2 of a 4 day water fast (I skipped the lunch options, but I’ve tried all of them on prior visits to the Mission). By the time I made it to the cat cafe I was not feeling up to it. But if I ever head back to SF it will be at the top of my list.

A few reasons to visit this cat cafe in particular:

  1. They work with a shelter/rescue and a lot of the cats at the cafe are available for adoption. So instead of a cafe with designer cats purchased to live at the cafe, you’re actually helping support a place that rescues kitties in need of loving homes. Cool, right?
  2. They have gluten free and vegan snacks! I always appreciate options. Even though I just discovered my gluten intolerance might be treatable, after 9 years of strict gluten free eating I always appreciate a place that has GF options.
  3. Hanging out with cats is a great way to boost your mood. At the end of a long shopping day, if you’re pooped, or bummed that those shorts you tried on didn’t fit (why can I NEVER find shorts that fit?!), some time with furry friends is a great way to make sure you remember the day fondly.

Extra Bonus – Get a Vintage Ride Home!

Take a vintage street car back to the Ferry Building or even all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf.

You could hail and Uber from here, or even take the Muni bus. But if you’re staying closer to The Ferry Building or even Fisherman’s Wharf, I have a better (and thematically appropriate) idea: hop on a vintage street car.

Not to be confused with the Cable Cars of Rice-A-Roni fame, the vintage street cars have an equally San Francisco vibe that’s closer to mid-century 1920’s revival.

Hop on the F Market and Wharves line at Market and Gough and enjoy the vintage ride home.

I was staying on the other side of the city in the Outer Richmond District so I didn’t go with this option. But I love the Ferry Building (and Meriposa GF bakery…), so I’m secretly plotting excuses to visit San Francisco again and make another itinerary that includes a ride on one of these historic street cars.

For route information visit

DaringMigration I Love You California Merch!

Just because I’m terrible at choosing California souvenirs doesn’t mean you have to be. If you’re traveling to California, or you just love it there, I designed this exclusive DaringMigration variation on the I Love You California bear for you.

Or you could be like me and get this mug to commemorate your trip to Ireland or something. Whatever floats your boat.

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Save and share this post now so you can use it on your trip later!


Off Beat San Francisco | The Marina District Itinerary

Looking for something a little less touristy to do in San Francisco?
I lived in San Francisco for almost three months before flying to Bali, Indonesia (where I am now). I got to know the city and discovered few ways you could spend the day exploring San Francisco without feeling like you’re getting a cookie cutter tourist experience.
I’ve got a few days planned out for you, but let’s take it slow and start with the Marina district. It’s close to attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, so it should be easy to add this itinerary to your trip even if you’re staying in that area.

Lunch at In-N-Out Burger

In-n-out burder for lunch - hey it's a California institution.
Let’s make this a leisurely day and start with lunch. I headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for In-N-Out Burger.
I know, I know. I literally just said we were getting away from the tourist attractions. But I’m on a ketogenic diet right now and I knew a Double-Double protein style would make it easy to stick to the diet. Plus they’re yummy and affordable, and In-N-Out is a California  institution (albeit a Southern California one).
If you like fast food burgers and shakes and you’re watching your budget, In-N-Out is a fine place to start. But, if you want something a little more “local” feeling (and I don’t blame you), Check out Eater’s list of great restaurants in The Marina for recommendations.

The Interval Museum and Café by The Long Now Foundation

When you’re done with lunch, walk to Fort Mason and have coffee, tea, or an adult beverage at The Interval, a café and library created by The Long Now Foundation.
The Interval is…. here – they can explain themselves better than I can:

Featuring a floor-to-ceiling library of the books you might need to rebuild civilization, mechanical prototypes for a clock meant to last for 10,000 years, art that continually evolves in real time, and a time-inspired menu of artisan drinks.

It seems like it was made by someone who’s equal parts aesthete, futurist, and nerd. That’s the kind of person I want to be friends with. Cozy up to the bar for a while and make friends with your neighbor. Or, quietly explore the amazing selection of books in these categories (via

  • Long-term Thinking, Past and Future: these include books on history as well as futurism and many books by Long Now speakers.
  • Rigorous Science Fiction: especially works that build richly imagined possible worlds to help us think about the future.
  • The Cultural Canon: great works of literature, poetry, philosophy, religion.
  • Mechanics of Civilization: “how-to” books for critical skills and technology, for example books on navigation, growing and gathering food, midwifery, forging tools.

In a world where more and more is becoming instant (messaging, feedback, gratification…) Interval encourages you to think about the far future. It’s a uniquely San Francisco place, and I highly recommend checking it out.

The Wave Organ

The Wave Organ is a pleasant 20 minute walk along the coast from Interval.
Made of carved granite and pipes that extend into the bay, the wave organ amplifies the sounds of moving water to create natural “music”.
Apparently it’s best heard at high tide, and we might have visited during low tide. We could hear gurgling water when we put our ears to some of the pipes but not exactly music. It was still pretty cool though and I’m glad we visited. Plus it’s a nice walk, you get really nice views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, and it looks neat. And where else are you going to find installation art like this?

The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is about a 15 minute walk from the wave organ, and you can’t miss it. Just look for the huge dome and start walking.
Although it hosts art exhibitions, we just walked around the grounds of The Palace of Fine Arts. And I stalked a swan a little. Admission is free, so if I’m in the area again I’ll definitely go inside and have a look around. But honestly just being under absolutely huge columns and domes is awe inspiring even without looking inside.

The Apothecarium Marina

Yes, I’m telling you to go to a cannabis dispensary.
Cannabis is legal in California for adults who are 21 and older. You just need a state ID (from any state). This particular dispensary felt super posh, boasting a moss wall and crystal chandelier. Just fill out a quick form, show your id, and when your info is in the system you’re invited to wait for a custom consultation on a comfy leather sofa.
With the help of our friendly consultant, we chose a tincture of 18:1 CBD to THC which was supposed to be just enough THC to compliment the relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects of the CBD, but not get you high.
They offer a range of other products to suite your particular fancy.
The whole experience was great. Way more approachable, and way less back-alley than I imagined. Even if you don’t want to get high, consider checking out a dispensary when you visit San Francisco just for the experience. When in Rome, right?


spaghetti squash with tomato sauce cooked in the microwave of our AirBnB
If you need to eat after this (let’s be real, if you went to the dispensary you need to eat) here are a couple of suggestions.
First option, do what I did and head back to your AirBnB and make one of my amazing microwave meals. Or, since two of the day’s 5 attractions were free and you didn’t have to pay for transportation, you could top your day off with one of those Eater suggestions and not bust the day’s budget.

Where is all this stuff?

All of these spots are within walking distance of each other, in pretty tame locations meaning you won’t have to wear your hidden money belt or clutch your pearls like aunt Sally. If you want to get a little taste of San Francisco beyond the typical tourist areas without venturing too far, this is the itinerary for you.
[wpgmza id=”1″]

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If you enjoyed these suggestions, share them! And stay tuned for off beat itineraries for Outer Richmond/Outer Sunset, and The Mission District.


travel essentials kit for shorter flights that fits in your pocket

The Mini Flight Essentials Kit

Airplanes are dry, noisy, and uncomfortable. Every last thing you can do to make those hours in the air more bearable is worth the effort.
But bumping into strangers when you rummage around in your stuff is no fun. And just thinking about dragging around a bunch of extra stuff that I’ll only use on my flight is giving me anxiety.
So, I came up with this adorable, pocket sized airplane comfort kit that packs a ton of tiny essentials to keep me comfy in the air. For long haul flights, I have a slightly more extensive setup, but when I don’t need to bust out the big guns (like comfy socks, eye mask, or noise canceling headphones), this mini flight comfort kit is perfect.
Here’s where I found this adorable container, what I put in my kit for my upcoming 5 hour flight, and a few extra ideas for a total of 20 pocket sized items you could fill your kit with.

The Container

a pocket sized travel essentials kit to make flying more comfortable
The container is the plastic cover from a travel sized package of cotton swabs. I like this one because it’s transparent, but you could also use things like Altoids tins, or a plastic video game case.
The case from a travel pack of Q-Tip brand cotton swabs works too, but it’s slightly different dimensions than mine.

What’s In My Flight Essentials Kit

I chose these items because I can feel pretty run-down after a flight. The dry air, cramped space, and constant noise can really drain me. I need items that will keep me feeling fresh, hydrated, and healthy.

Feeling Fresh

For longer flights I’m concerned with other freshness issues, but for shorter flights I kind of just want to keep my mouth clean and fresh. Sodas and coffee from beverage service are breath killers. These flight essentials are small but help keep the dragon breath at bay.
I’m Bringing

Combat Dry Air

Planes are dry so the typical recommendation is to drink a lot of water. But for flights longer than a couple of hours my eyes still get dry and my lips start to chap. I’ve even gotten nose bleeds after long haul flights from the dry air.
I have TSA Pre-Check, which means for participating flights I don’t have to separate my liquids at security. If you don’t have TSA Pre-Check or you’re flying on an airline that doesn’t offer Pre-Check, just remember to pop the eye drops into your quart sized bag of liquids when you go through security.
I’m Bringing

Also Consider

  • trial sized eye drops (ask your optometrist)
  • single use hand lotion like Squeeze Pods
  • single use saline nasal drops like these

Staying Healthy

It’s SO easy to catch a cold on an airplane. Thankfully there are a few steps you can take to prevent a cold in the first place. One of my favorite methods is to pop a zinc lozenge. Zinc prevents cold viruses from replicating in your mouth , which means even if you’re exposed the virus won’t have a chance to take hold and actually make you sick. One or two zinc lozenges are absolutely essential in my flight comfort kit.
For longer flights – especially ones I’ll be eating on – I’ll also bring other medications and supplements like digestive enzymes or an extra dose of anti-anxiety medication.
I’m Taking

Also  Consider

TIP! If you don’t want to pack pills loose in your comfort kit, consider popping them into a contacts case or a pocket sized pill pouch and sticking that in your pocket. That’s what I’ll be doing with my enzymes and anxiety meds for our long haul flight to Indonesia.

Keep Your Ears Happy

For long haul flights I bust out my noise canceling headphones. But for flights less than 6 hours I feel like they’re overkill. But I still might want to block out some of that engine noise or the sounds of a poor unhappy baby. Lucky for me, foam earplugs take up about the same amount of room as a tampon, so if I’m sure it’s not that time of the month, I might swap out my period protection for a pair of foam earplugs.
Earbuds take up a surprising amount of space relative to the other items, so consider just sticking these directly in your pocket if you need them.
Earplugs and buds make my ears itch after a while, so having a cotton swab or two on hand would be nice to refresh my ears after a flight.

  • a pair of ear plugs
  • a couple of cotton swabs
  • ear buds

The Joys of Being a Woman

I’m transitioning to using a menstrual cup but I don’t quite have the hang of it. And since my period is slightly unpredictable, I don’t want to have to rummage around for my cup if I have a “Woops! I just started my period” moment. Thankfully tampons without an applicator take up like, no space.
I’m Taking

Bonus Important Life Questions: Does anyone else hate the word “panty”? What do they call these in the UK? Pants liners?

Refill Your Flight Essentials Kit

a pocket sized flight essentials kit to keep you comfortable while you travel
The point of this pocket sized flight essentials kit is to keep everything you need to stay comfortable on hand, in doses just big enough to get you through the flight. You’ll want to re-fill your flight essentials before your next flight, so remember to pack spares of anything you would use up like pills, eye drops, or your single use toothbrush. Those can go in your checked bag or in a less convenient part of your carryon since you won’t need them until you fly again.

Share It!

Never again will I elbow my neighbor while I rummage for my ear plugs hidden in my purse. And I won’t have to awkwardly dig through my roll-aboard in the overhead bin, on my tiptoes, while trying not to pull my luggage (and everyone else’s) into the aisle.
Tony and I both have pocket sized flight essentials kits and we’re excited to use them on our upcoming flights to visit family in the US. If this post has you excited to make your own travel essentials kit, make sure to Pin it, and share it!
A pocket sized kit of travel essentials to use on your next flight.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Making purchases through these links is a great way to support Daring Migration and keep it ad free. Thank you!

packing cube mistakes stuffed suitcase

5 Huge Packing Cube Mistakes And What To Do About Them

Packing cubes have completely changed my packing game this past year.
But even though they’re pretty self-explanatory, I think it’s easy to make some major packing cube mistakes. You might think of these as missed opportunities for maximizing the greatness of the packing cube.
I use these packing cubes from Ikea and LOVE them. But if you’re new to the game, make sure you’re not making these 5 major packing cube mistakes.

1. Using The Wrong Size Packing Cube or Under Filling Them

I’ve moved a lot, and whenever something gets broken during a move its because the box wasn’t full. I’ve learned the hard way that filling space when you pack anything keeps contents from shifting too much. Yes mom, I know you taught me how to pack a box. I just didn’t listen.
Same thing can happen when you use packing cubes. A packing cube that’s loosely packed won’t hold clothing in place, meaning they’re more likely to become disorganized and wrinkled. Make sure you pick the right size packing cube for the job. When your cube is full it should zip fairly easily, but the contents shouldn’t shift no matter how you pick up the bag. If your cloths are sloshing around inside, pick a smaller packing cube.

2. Putting EVERYTHING in Cubes

Everyone on the internet  😍  packing cubes. Still, I’ve read a few complaints saying people could fit more without them.
That totally makes sense if you’re putting every last item in a packing cube. You’re going to miss out on nooks and crannies of space around the cubes. And so many suitcases have bars in the bottom that make grooves of wasted space if you put all of your packed gear in a packing cube.
Use the cubes to keep your clothes organized and wrinkle free. Use them to keep your skivvies from becoming a jumble in the corners of your suitcase. Use them to organize accessories. But if you’ve got a scarf or a couple of sweaters that would fill that weird suitcase groove perfectly, by all means, use that space!

3. Rolling Your Clothes

Rolling clothing to put in a packing cube is unnecessary unless you just like the presentation.
Rolling is good for clothes that are loose in your bag because you can stuff rolled clothes into nooks and crannies. But rolling does not make clothing take up less space. Rolled clothes might be a better configuration for your bag. But they take up the same volume of space as folded clothes when compressed in your suitcase.
In a regular space like a packing cube, folding your clothes flat and neatly laying them in the cube will work just as well as rolling. It might even be better since there will be less folded/scrunched area on the clothing to get wrinkled.

4. Machine Washing and Drying

If the tag on your packing cubes says “hand wash only” AKA something like this:

They really mean hand wash only! And definitely don’t put them in the dryer, especially if they have clear panels or a water resistant lining.
flaking packing cube after machine washing
Lots of complaints about packing cubes on Amazon come from travelers who washed their “hand wash only” packing cubes in the washing machine. The result is flaking lining, warped fabric, and frustrated people suffering from user error. Don’t be that guy.

5. Not Using Them as an Excuse to Under-pack

Like I said earlier, your clothes should be snug in your packing cubes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your packing cubes have to be snug in your suitcase.
Even if the cubes shift around a bit your clothes will be safe, organized, and relatively wrinkly free inside the packing cubes. So use that as an excuse to under pack for your next trip and actually save room for your souvenirs.
souvenir hanson tshirt that says nirvana
Bonus Tip! If you absolutely can’t stop yourself from over-packing, or you’re still worried that all of that extra space will leave your belongings vulnerable during travel, pack an empty shoe box in your luggage. It’s essentially empty space but the structure will help keep your packing cubes from shifting. When you get to your destination, you’ll actually have space in your luggage for that stupid souvenir t-shirt you couldn’t resist.

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Have you made any of these packing cube mistakes? Did you dodge a bullet by reading this post? Share the love on Pinterest (or wherever your travel buddies are) to make sure no one suffers these pains again!



7 Scientifically Proven Leaky Gut Supplements

Some lists of leaky gut supplements aren’t exactly scientific. So what actually works to repair leaky gut? And why am I even talking about it?
As I travel the world, I want to feel great. But sometimes I just don’t. In fact, a lot of the time I don’t. So as part of my resolution to be ready for adventure, I’ve decided to take the reins and fix some of my health issues. As a first step, I’m exploring the possibility that I have leaky gut.
I’m just starting out on my leaky gut journey, but I wanted to share some of the research I’m coming across. While some leaky gut advice seems to be pulled out of the sky, there actually has been quite a bit of research on probiotics and supplements that really do tighten up those tight junctions and heal leaky gut.
Here’s what I’ve found so far.

Mutaflor Probiotic

the mutaflor probiotic bacteria is a harmless variety of e. coli, and is helpful for healing leaky gut
Mutaflor is the name for a single strain probiotic: Escherichia coli Nissle 1917.
You read that right. It’s E. coli.
But like most strains of E. coli,  this particular strain is harmless. In fact, it might even prevent food poisoning from pathogenic (bad) strains of E. coli. Pretty neat.
Studies have shown this probiotic is capable of tightening junctions in mouse epithelial (gut) cells. Here’s another study that claims that this probiotic helps leaky gut by improving the mucosal barrier of the gut.
Unfortunately it’s been banned in the USA, apparently over a weird discrepancy. It seems the FDA currently considers it a biological medicine instead of a probiotic. The FDA doesn’t regulate probiotics but it does regulate medicine. As far as I can tell the FDA wants more research to prove its safety and effectiveness. It’s apparently one of the most researched probiotics though, so I find that equally weird.
This won’t be the easiest of the leaky gut supplements to find. You can still buy it online (from Canada) if you’re in the U.S., but you might have to do a little detective work to find a supplier.

Bifidobacterium infantis Y1

Probiotic supplemetns are probably the best way to consume bifidobacterium infantis and help heal leaky gut
A literature review of the effects of probiotics on leaky gut states that B. infantis may reduce gut permiability. It might even be protective against future permeability.
B. infantis is naturally found in your mouth and intestines. There don’t seem to be any good food sources of this strain, so a supplement is the way to go.
You can find B. infantis in lots of probiotic blends, and the variety used in a study that showed B. infantis helps heal leaky gut is found in VSL 3 High Potency Probiotic.
Even Dr. Axe, the pro-paleo leaky gut specialist recommends it.
There are apparently lots of other benefits of supplementing with B. infantis including alleviating symptoms of depression and in chronic fatigue syndrome, reducing the effects of elevated cortisol, and improving serotonin.

Lactobacillus plantarum MB452

fermented foods like kinchi naturally contain l. plantarum which improves leaky gut
Research on L. plantarum found that it significantly increased ZO-1 and occludin (proteins necessary for tight junctions) in the vicinity of tight junction structures which indicated the gut should be less permeable.
Kimchi naturally contains L. plantarum, as do other fermented foods, and it’s is another strain you’ll find in a lot of probiotic blends. In addition to B. infantis,  VSL 3 High Potency Probiotic also contains L. plantarum.
I’ve already ordered some Multaflor. Next on my list of leaky gut supplements is VSL 3. Apparently it used to be prescription only, but now you can get it over the counter or on Amazon.


oysters are a good source of zinc which has been shown to improve leaky gut
Cells grown in a zinc-deficient media appeared to have more permeability than those grown in a media with sufficient zinc. So if you suspect you might be deficient, eat foods high in zinc like oysters or brazil nuts, or pick up a zinc supplement.
Another study indicated that zinc supplementation was a good treatment for leaky gut in people with Crohn’s disease. Patients who were in remission with Crohn’s but who all had increased intestinal permeability took 110 mg of zinc sulfate three times a day for 8 weeks. The researchers followed up 12 months later and found most had normal intestinal permeability and did not relapse.

Lime Flower, Star Anise, and Black Tea Extracts

one study showed star anise extract improved leaky gut, another good reason to eat pho
Extracts of “lime flower tree” (Tilia vulgaris), star anise (Illicium anisatum), and black tea (Camellia sinensis), were found to improve tight junctions in a study of 300 different herbal extracts.
Star anise supposedly has a host of other benefits including warding off bad bacteria, and it’s a good source of antioxidants. I’m pretty sure this just cemented my dedication to prefer Vietnamese pho (with veggies instead of noodles) over regular old bone broth.
I had a hunch that black tea was pretty healthy, which is part of why I switched from coffee to tea this year. Anyone who knows me IRL will be shocked at this admission, but it’s true. I feel less anxious, better hydrated, and less jittery since making the switch.
As for lime flowers, I’ve never used them. The extract used in the study was not from true lime trees, instead they come from the linden or basswood tree native to Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. Apparently some varieties of linden extract have been also shown to reduce anxiety in mouse models, and it’s often used as an herbal cold remedy in Europe. Might be worth looking into a bit more as a possible leaky gut supplement.


pho broth is basically bone broth with lots of l-glutamine that helps heal leaky gut
L-glutamine  is one of the most common supplement recommendations I’ve seen for leaky gut.
Glutamine appears to restore loss of intestinal barrier integrity when cells are weakened after exposure to air. However, the cells recovered better if they were exposed to glutamine before the stress (being exposed to air). You might expect it to help restore cells that have been damaged for other reasons too. But it might work better as a way to maintain your gut health rather than taking it in response to a flare.
It seems to have a range of other benefits. Plus, while you can easily take an L-glutamine supplement, it’s also found in abundance in bone broth. Just another good reason to stick to my pho diet.

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Save this post now! You’re going to want to refer back to it when choosing your leaky gut supplements.
heal leaky gut with 7 proven supplements
I’m not a doctor, medical professional, or a scientist. I’m just a lady who likes to read. Please talk to your doctor before making any major changes that could affect your health!


Easy Gluten Free One Pan Dinner Recipe: New Potatoes with Pesto and Wilted Greens

Rich, nutty pesto, earthy greens, and hearty, filling potatoes all in one pan? Yes please.
I’ve got full kitchen access in our current AirBnB, but I still don’t want to use a lot of dishes or make a big mess. This one pan recipe was easy, fast, had little cleanup, and was the perfect light dinner. It would also make a nice side dish, or simple lunch. The bright and earthy flavors would be great with rotisserie chicken or with pan seared white fish.
As it is, this recipe is gluten free and vegetarian, but can be made vegan with a couple of adjustments.

One Pan Pesto Potatoes with Wilted Greens

Serves One
Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan Option


  1. If multiplying to serve more people, use a large pan and cook the potatoes in a single layer in batches for better browning.

  2. For a vegan option, substitute butter for an equal amount of butter alternative or olive oil. Substitute pesto for basil paste or a few large leaves of fresh chopped basil, and a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast, or a handful of chopped walnuts. Look for small bags of walnuts in the baking section of your grocery store if you’re in the US.

  3. Browning the potatoes lends a lot of flavor to the dish thanks to that magical maillard reaction. But wilting the greens in the pan with the potatoes makes the potatoes less crispy. I didn’t mind, but for maximum crispiness, wilt and serve the greens separately. You can still wilt the greens in the same pan, just remove the potatoes first.


  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 pound new potatoes
  • 2 Tbs prepared pesto
  • 1 – 2 cups mixed baby greens like chard, kale, and spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste (or Crazy Mixed Up Salt)
  • lemon juice to taste


Cook whole new potatoes in a covered dish in the microwave for about 8 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. When they’re cool enough to handle, slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. (Potatoes can be steamed ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.)
If you don’t have a microwave, you can skip the steaming step. Just slice the potatoes as thinly as you can, and continue with the rest of the instructions. The texture of the potatoes will end up a bit different, but still yummy.
Melt butter in a sturdy pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan to distribute the butter. Arrange a single layer of potatoes in the pan, and season with salt and pepper.

Brown the potato slices on one side, then turn – about 8 minutes.

When the slices are browned on the other side (5 more minutes), add the pesto and toss the potatoes to coat.

Add the greens, and gently toss to combine. Remove from heat when greens are just wilted to avoid overcooking.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice if you have it. It really brightens up the whole dish but it’s not strictly necessary.

Ideas for Leftover Pesto and Greens

I like to re-use ingredients while I’m traveling, even if I have space in the fridge. Having a few ideas of how I could re-combine leftover ingredients keeps me from wasting food.
I had some leftover greens and pesto after cooking this recipe. The pesto made a great salad dressing for the greens, and I used it with some fresh mozzarella and tomato for something like a caprese salad. I ate some of  the leftover greens raw as a salad. The rest I wilted into polenta for breakfasts, making something like grits and greens (so good, recipe coming soon!).
Would you make this recipe at home or while you’re traveling? Let me know in the comments bellow!

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5 Real Meals You Can Cook In Your AirBnB (even if you only have a microwave)

Food in San Francisco is expensive.

We were just in Thailand where I could eat an entire meal for like three dollars. In San Francisco I could easily spend $16 on lunch for just me. Ouch.

On top of that, I’ve got some dietary restrictions and it’s generally just easier to cook my own food. But since we’re staying in AirBnB’s with variable kitchen access and equipment for the next few months, I’ve had to get creative with my cooking.

I’m focusing on recipes that don’t need lots of ingredients. They need minimal prep and equipment. They’re also fast to cook, and easy to clean up. And they taste good. Duh.

I’ve already started trying out some ideas – guys the lunch I made last week was so good – and I wanted to share how I’m cooking in our current AirBnB using just the microwave. My recipes are gluten free and vegetarian, but I hope this post inspires you get creative with whatever you cook in your AirBnB. Let me know what you think!

1. South Western Baked Egg In Sweet Potato

sweet potatos are an easy meal to cook while you're traveling, this sweet potato has an egg baked into it, and is topped with black beans and spinach

This was that amazing lunch I was telling you about. It was inspired in part by this recipe, but I spruced it up a little and cooked the entire thing in the microwave!

I baked a sweet potato in the microwave (poke holes in the skin and nuke for 5 minutes). Then I sliced it lengthwise and scooped out enough of the centers to make room for an egg. I cracked a raw egg into each half, and microwaved again in bursts of 30 seconds until it was cooked the way I like. Mine took 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds for mostly set whites and runny yolk.

Then I warmed up some canned chili black beans in a microwave safe dish, and piled them on top of each sweet potato half. I finished them off with a little Sambal Oelek, and some steamed spinach – also cooked in the microwave.

Tony and I ate half of a sweet potato each for a lite-ish lunch. I think I could actually eat a whole sweet potato myself if I was pretty hungry.

P.S. Let me know in the comments if you’re as charmed by our AirBnB host’s Warhol style Marilyn Monroe plate as I am!

2. Spaghetti Squash Marinara

spaghetti squash with tomato sauce cooked in the microwave of our AirBnB

I just had this one for dinner tonight and it was right up there with the southwestern sweet potatoes in terms of satisfying meals.

I cut a whole raw spaghetti squash in half and scooped out the seeds. Then I microwaved it on a plate, cut side down, for about 7-10 minutes total, stopping to check for done-ness about half way through. I let it rest for a few minutes to let the built up heat in the squash finish the cooking process.

I used a fork to “shred” the cooked squash to get that characteristic spaghetti effect.

Jars of marinara sauce are all crazy big for some reason, so I opted for a small jar of sun dried tomato pesto instead. The pesto had Parmesan cheese in it – bonus!  I got that yummy salty umami flavor without buying a block of cheese and hoping my host had a grater – or buying a green can of cheese that would go mostly to waste.

The jar of pesto was brand new, so rather than cooking it separately I just added a few spoons full to my hot spaghetti squash and let the squash warm the sauce. I didn’t bother taking the squash out of the shell since it acts like a disposable bowl and makes cleanup super easy.

How did it turn out?

So good! Easily as good as spaghetti squash I’ve baked in the oven. A whole squash and a small can of tomato pesto is about right for two servings, so it’s the perfect size to not have a ton of leftovers.

BONUS IDEA: If you actually use marinara sauce and you have leftovers, you could make “baked” eggs in a mug with the leftover sauce and a hand full of spinach for breakfast the next day.

3. Red Beans and Rice

red beans and rice with an egg on top makes an easy meal while traveling

This was my lunch a couple of days in a row. I used pre-cooked organic microwaveable rice, but you could use minute rice (or regular rice) if you want to break out the pots and pans.

I nuked half a can of rinsed kidney beans in a microwave safe dish. Then I microwaved my rice, seasoned with salt and pepper, and stirred the beans and rice together. I love eating eggs with just about anything, so I made a little well in my rice, cracked an egg in, and nuked it for about a minute to give myself a little extra something.

Not gonna lie, plain red beans and rice is kind of bland. I added a dollop of Sambal Oelek as is my custom, but it’s begging for some herbs like thyme or sage, and maybe some creole seasoning.

If I could find a store that sold bulk spices that would be perfect since I could buy exactly the amount I needed, but the Safeway here only has spices in jars. As a consolation prize, that Safeway is about a block from the beach so at least I can see a beautiful ocean sunset while doing my shopping.  #nomadlife

4. Avocado Toast with Poached Egg

avocado toast with eggs is an easy lunch or snack to make while traveling

I haven’t made this yet to take a picture of it. Please accept this photo of avocado toast with soft boiled eggs instead.

Yep… a poached egg can be made in the microwave. Just made my first micro-poached egg last week in fact. OK, so it did explode a little bit (I was warned this might happen, but did not heed said warnings). I have high hopes for round two though.

You can also apparently poach an egg with a coffee maker. Who knew?

As for the toast, you can’t do that in the microwave, sorry. But you can pop it in a toaster, or broil it in the oven, or toast it in a pan on the stove. In a pinch, you can toast bread with an iron, or on the hot plate of a coffee maker. That’s a thing.

Or don’t toast the bread. Just call it avo-bread instead of avo-toast. I won’t judge you.

I haven’t made this travel meal yet, but here’s how I would do it.

Toast bread however you choose. Mine would be gluten free bread toasted in a pan to prevent cross contamination in the toaster. Then just cut the avocado in slices, salt and pepper the avocado, and top with a microwave poached egg.

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be great on this, and it’s another reason I really need to find a market with bulk seasonings for sale.

5. Quinoa “oatmeal”

quick cook quinoa is perfect for travelquick cook quinoa is a perfect breakfast while you're traveling and a great snack to cook in your AirBnB

Apparently I ate my breakfast too fast and didn’t take pics. Please forgive me!

I like quinoa for breakfast because I feel yuk if I eat oats (even gluten free oats). If you eat oats, you could substitute quick cooking oats for quinoa here.

I cooked quick cooking quinoa according to the package directions for microwave cooking. Then I added a little salt, and a spoonful of sugar from the coffee and tea station our AirBnB host provided. A handful of raisins (Tony has been eating them as a snack) rounded out my breakfast. I ran out of milk for my tea, but I would have put a splash of milk in as well. Single-serve milk cartons (or dairy-free milk cartons) are great for things like this.

And if I can find a market that sells bulk spices (I’m sure there’s one around here…) I would add a dash of cinnamon too.

This one was super easy, tasty, and filling. A really great way to start the day!

What Travel Recipes Do You Use?

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek into what I’m cooking while we’re traveling. Now I’m curious, what do you do?

Do you cook in your hotel or AirBnB? Are there any special challenges you face like avoiding cross contamination, or cooking without familiar equipment? Have any favorite recipes? Tell me all about your travel cooking experience, I’d love to hear it!


Make Your Own Food Allergy Cards For Any Destination

You know what stresses me out when I travel?

Finding food I can eat.

I don’t actually know if I have celiac disease (long story) Turns out I don’t have celiac disease (!!!), but I haven’t eaten gluten in almost ten years because it makes me feel turrible.

Glad someone else likes to say terrible the way I do 🙂

Anyone with a food intolerance or allergy knows it’s not always easy getting safe food. It’s especially hard when you don’t speak the local language. In the past I’ve stressed out for months before trips wondering how I would eat. Not fun.

I’ve used food allergy* cards from other sites but I wasn’t 100% happy with them, so I decided to make my own for Thailand and Japan. So far they’ve been great! I’m confidant that I’m communicating my food issues clearly, and everyone I’ve shown them to has understood my needs.

A hotel manager in Thailand even asked for a copy of my card so their staff would know how to handle other guest’s gluten issues.

They worked out so well I thought I would share the love. You can download my gluten allergy cards for Japan and Thailand (including English versions) for free at the end of this post.

AND I’m going to tell you exactly how I wrote and translated them so you can make your own cards no matter where you’re going or what your food allergy is.

*I know gluten intolerance and celiac disease aren’t actually allergies, but it’s a term most people understand. I’ve found it’s not usually helpful to explain that I probably have an autoimmune reaction and not an allergic reaction so I just say it’s a gluten allergy.

Anatomy Of My Food Allergy Card

Some food allergy cards say the same thing no matter what language they’re printed in. But I use different cards for different countries. I don’t want to waste a server’s time talking about food that’s not common in that country.

To keep your card relevant do a quick search to find out what you can and can’t eat in that country. If you have a food allergy, you’re probably doing that anyway.

Food Allergy Card Front

On the front of my card I have an explanation of my allergy. That’s followed by a table of unexpected but common ingredients that contain gluten in that country.

gluten free food allergy card for restaurants in English

People are always surprised when I tell them soy sauce is made with wheat. It’s a really common ingredient in Japan so that’s exactly the kind of thing I need to let my server know on my card.

When you’re looking into foods you can’t eat, make note of anything that’s not obvious for this section.

Food Allergy Card Back

On the back of the card I have a lists of foods in that country that I can and can’t eat.

food allergy card for restaurants while traveling

These don’t have to be exhaustive lists. The examples just help your server know what you mean. When I say I can’t eat foods that contain wheat, the server can flip the card over and see, yep, that means cake, cookies, and bread.

The list of foods you can eat gives your server a starting point for coming up with safe options for you. It can also help address common questions like “can you eat milk?” or “can you eat potatoes?”.

Writing Your Allergy Elevator Pitch

The explanation of your food allergy needs to be easy to read, fit on a small card that can go in your bag or pocket, and be short enough that the server can take it all in while he’s busy.

It really is like an elevator pitch, except instead of asking for money or a job, you’re asking for food that won’t make you sick.

grumpy cat saying you have 60 seconds to impress me, because you only have a minute to get your server to understand your food allergy needs

Here’s my food allergy elevator pitch for Japan:

My husband and I are allergic to gluten. We cannot eat wheat, barley, or oats, or any sauces, foods, or seasonings made with wheat, barley, or oats.

Boom. Two sentences. Don’t know what gluten is? That’s OK, I explain what I can’t eat in the next sentence. Don’t know what foods contain wheat, barley, or oats? That’s OK too. I came prepared with example lists.

The eagle eyed among you might notice I don’t mention rye. That’s because it’s not a common ingredient in Japan. I do mention sauces and seasonings because that’s where a lot of gluten comes from in Japanese food.

If you have a severe reaction you might want to include what your symptoms are and stress the importance of eating only safe food in your elevator pitch.

If cross-contamination is a problem, you could incorporate that into your elevator pitch too. Something like “We can’t eat wheat, barley, or oats, even in small amounts. Separate preparation and cooking equipment must be used, or equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent contamination with wheat, barley, or oats.”

Whatever you write, try to get the main point across in a couple of clear sentences.

Compose Your Native Language Food Allergy Card

Putting all of the pieces together should be a breeze now. Use any document composition tool you’re comfortable with (Word, Pages, Powerpoint, etc.). Just make sure you can save the file as a Word document. That’s probably the format your translator will want.

If you want your card to be structured like mine, lead off with your food allergy elevator pitch. Then segue into your list of unexpected sources of your allergen if there were any.

I talk about cross contamination from shared oil and cooking water in my unexpected sources section, but you could also mention cross contamination in your elevator pitch.

Show your gratitude, and politely ask if there is anything you can eat that’s safe.

On the opposite side of the card, include your list of common foods in that country that you can’t eat, and the list of foods you can eat. I used colors and symbols to make it easy to tell at a glance which list was safe and which was unsafe.

Save the file as a Word document, and you’re ready to send it to a translator!

Getting An Affordable Translation

You have a couple of options here.

You could ask someone on a language exchange site to translate your food allergy card for you. In that case you might be able to have it translated for free. But I kind of feel like that’s a lot of work to do for free.

The route I chose was to hire someone on Fiverr to translate my cards for me.

cheap translation service for a food allergy restaurant card on fiverr

A handful of Japanese translators on Fiverr.

I chose translators who were native speakers with excellent reviews who’s listings included free revisions. I direct messaged them before purchasing a listing to make sure they would be comfortable translating food words.

My translations ended up being about ten dollars each but you can see there are plenty of translators who charge five bucks. I got the first drafts back within a day or two.

Once I got the translations back, they were ready for review.

Get Native Speakers to Review Your Translated Allergy Card For Free

I posted my translated card for free on the language exchange sites iTalki and HiNative. I just asked native speakers to read it and tell me if it made sense.

I was already a contributing member of these sites (I’m trying to learn Japanese) so I felt comfortable asking for help. You could ask for help without contributing, but you might have better luck if you answer a few questions about your native language first. Plus it’s just good juju to give when you take, you know?

A couple of sentences could have been more clear on my cards, and the helpful people on these forums offered better translations.

getting an endependant review of my food allergy card translation on HiNative forum

My request for review of my Thai translation on HiNative.

Pssst… if you sign up for iTalki through my link (where you can use the community for free) and purchase a lesson, you and I will both get $10 in iTalki credits.

I also ran my translated card through Google translate back to English just to make sure the meaning didn’t change much. In some instances it changed enough that my original meaning was lost, and I had to ask the translator to revise the card.

I never had to do more than one or two rounds of revisions before I was happy with the translation. But I was glad I found translators who did free revisions because they always needed at least one.

Print The English and Translated Versions

Here’s how my Japanese gluten allergy card turned out

food allergy card for travel translated into Japanese    food allergy card for travel translated into japanese

The size you print will kind of depend on how you’re carrying it. Small purse? Back pocket? Day pack? Depending on how you set up the document for printing, I think both sides of my cards can fit on half of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. It’s been a while since I printed them so please don’t hate me if that’s wrong!

After I printed my cards I laminated them for durability. I also thought it made them seem like something I would want back and not like something the kitchen or server could keep or throw away.

Download My Gluten Allergy Cards For Japan And Thailand!

My food allergy cards worked really well when we traveled to both Japan and Thailand. I never felt afraid that I wouldn’t be able to explain my needs, and everyone who read the cards understood them.

Below are links to my gluten allergy cards for traveling to Japan and Thailand. You can download both the English and Translated versions. If you’re gluten free and need cards for Thailand or Japan please feel free to use mine and change them however you need.

Gluten Free Cards for Thailand

 English Card    Thai Card

Gluten Free Cards for Japan

English Card    Japanese Card

You’ll probably want to change some of the words like “my husband and I” if you’re using the card just for yourself. But I think that’s a change even Google translate could handle 🙂

Good Luck!! Please let me know if you plan to use these cards or make your own. I’d love to hear your travel food stories!