At Quo, we are no strangers to special food requirements. Many of us have complicated food allergies and sensitivities. Our travels have taught us the reality of menus, food preparation, awareness and vigilance when exploring the world.
Typically, meals for groups are prepared en masse and all-at-once so that they can be served quickly and the group can be on their way to the next activity. Internationally, most restaurants that cater to groups are simply unable to prepare individual meals in a timely fashion, if at all. Sometimes it’s possible, but often it is not.
This means that it’s necessary for people with acute food sensitivities to be prepared and travel with food bars, supplements, meal replacements, etc. that will tide them over when restaurants cannot accommodate.
It will be 100% the individual’s responsibility to monitor and manage what they consume, with the full knowledge that kitchens are not trained or educated on this kind of accommodation like they are in the U.S.
In the past, we have had some success accommodating vegetarians, because this style of eating has become common enough that nearly every restaurant has at least one vegetarian option.
We have not had this same luck with gluten-free and allergen-free meals. This is a relatively new idea in most parts of the world. Europe is better than many other places simply because they host far more American tourists and are more familiar with our food sensitivities. However, not even Europe is reliably able to accommodate.
This is why gluten-free and food allergy “deviations” are not something we can guarantee. We are committed to making restaurants AWARE of the need on an individual basis, and we will notify our overseas partners as soon as we receive this information from our Leaders, but WE CAN NOT GUARANTEE that restaurants will be able to accommodate these requests. Many of the kitchens simply do not have the awareness or capability to keep sensitivity- and allergen-free ingredients ready for individual requests.
The most important thing you can do is to complete your Health Information Form as thoroughly and honestly as possible. When you submit this form to your Leader, notify her or him in explicit detail of the specific nature of your food issues.
Food and Cultural Intelligence go hand in hand. We want every student to have a positive and healthy experience with food as they travel abroad, and we will do everything possible to make this happen. Please understand, however, that we cannot guarantee restaurants’ ability to accommodate these requests.