How to Travel to Bali With a Peanut Allergy Safely – tips from someone who lives there with a life-threatening nut allergy
When I first told my parents I wanted to visit Southeast Asia, they were extremely nervous.
Not because of how far away it was, how long of a flight it was, or how I’d be traveling abroad with my friends, but because I’m not like any traveling millennial – I’m a lot more fragile.
I’m deathly allergic to peanuts.
Not the I-sneeze-or-my-face-swells-a-little-allergic, but rather my-throat-closes and if-I-don’t-get-to-a-hospital-within-minutes-of-anaphylaxis-setting-in-can-DIE allergic. And anyone who’s been to Southeast Asia, has eaten in a Thai, Vietnamese, or Indonesian restaurant knows that peanuts are just about EVERYWHERE in their cuisine. So how do I survive living in Bali now as a travel blogger with a serious peanut allergy? Very, very carefully.
I wanted to write this post because I know how scary it can be as someone traveling to a new country with a food allergy, but also for their loved ones back home. Luckily, it is possible to travel to Bali and eat in Bali with a nut allergy, and I would hate if your allergy stopped you from seeing the incredible island that is Bali. There are many western restaurants available and food that is safe to eat for nut allergy sufferers – and actually, recently, most places in Bali have gotten really good at dealing with food allergies and sensitivities – they get it now, but that being said you can’t be nonchalant about it in Bali, either.
Here are my tips of what I do to survive living in Bali with a peanut allergy, and what I recommend anyone traveling to Bali with a nut allergy do to stay safe abroad
1. Carefully explain, at every single meal, and before you touch any food in Bali, that you have a serious nut allergy, and make sure they understand
In Balinese culture, they will sometimes nod their heads and say yes even if they don’t quite understand, so make sure they FULLY get it.
2. Eat at safe restaurants
I wrote a blog post here about 10 Restaurants I Eat Safely in Bali With a Peanut Allergy (and the 1 that almost killed me), and I recommend checking that out if you also have an allergy – I have been pleasantly surprised over the years to find out some of the best restaurants in Bali don’t use peanuts.
3. Don’t eat at the local Indonesian warungs
Why risk it?? They often put peanuts in food here, and even if it’s not in what you’re ordering, the cross contamination in local warungs is very dangerous for those with nut allergies in Bali.
4. Bring an allergy card with you
You can buy an Indonesian one on Amazon here), and show it to your waiter when you sit down and order.
5. If you don’t feel 100% like the place you’re eating is clean, understands your allergy, etc. DO NOT EAT THERE!!!!
6. Know where the nearest hospitals or clinics are
Ask your hotel and be aware, just in case.
7. Don’t eat too adventurously
I like eating the food I can trust in Bali – like pizza, mexican, sushi, club sandwiches, eggs, bacon, etc. I don’t get anything too complicated.
8. Bring your own snacks
When in doubt, eat your own food! On my first trip to Bali, I barely ate anything and lived off of safe snacks I brought from home. It was fine! I’ve now gotten more comfortable since I know the restaurants to trust with a peanut allergy in Bali, and the foods I can rely on – but on that first trip, my snacks were everything!! It’s important to always bring snacks when you’re flying or traveling anyway, whether or not you have a food allergy! It’s easy to bring a supply of healthy snacks just in case you don’t feel comfortable eating at certain restaurants.
9. Bring an epi pen with you everywhere you go – of course!!
And bring multiple in your suitcase when you pack for Bali!!!!
10. And, finally, do not go to Kynd Community for a smoothie bowl.
This is the cafe that nearly killed me when they didn’t list on their menu peanut butter as an ingredient in a smoothie I ordered, and despite knowing about my allergy, they put a spoonful of peanut butter in my smoothie. I took not even a sip when I realized what had happened. They claimed they were “really busy” and it got lost in translation with the kitchen. But peanut butter wasn’t listed as an ingredient. I was so confused. Just goes to show though – you have to be careful who you trust, and maybe avoid overly busy or peak hours. I don’t tell that story to scare anyone – because, seriously, I feel SO safe eating in Bali now- but only in the places I can trust – and I think it’s important to know the ones you can’t trust, as well.
This was the ‘death sip’ – taken seconds before I realized what had happened!!! It is a very cute cafe though!! But there are other smoothie bowl spots in Bali that I trust much more (Nalu bowls has always understood me and made me feel very safe, for instance, but I never get granola)
Check out these other Bali blog posts:
The Ultimate Gili Air Travel Guide