It may seem like allergies and language barriers are two entirely different topics – and for some visitors to the Cote d’Azur, they are. But for many travelers, the two issues are tightly woven together.
Can you imagine traveling with food allergies, and the challenge of trying to communicate those allergies in a foreign language? This problem can create significant obstacles and restrictions for any visitor – and even prevent them from traveling at all.
Everyone knows that food allergies are on the rise, so I sat down with one of our guests to find out more about the issues faced by travelers with allergies – and coincidentally language barriers.
Allergy Travel in the Cote d’Azur
Our guest had always dreamed of visiting the South of France. But she had allergies – and not just to food. Knowing France is a pet-friendly country where many travel with their pets, her allergy to animal dander was a big concern. In addition, being allergic to shellfish & chocolate she was rightfully concerned about traveling throughout the South of France – as both of these items are popular ingredients.
Before traveling she did learn how to communicate her allergies in French, but there are a variety of accents in southern France, and she had had a few difficulties before she arrived. Phone apps worked sporadically but often mistranslated.
For her, Le Mas Candille was a relief as our restaurant team is proficient in English, and if there were any questions due to accents, someone was always ready to help translate further.
She explained that the language barrier had been a key challenge before arriving. She was tremendously relieved that the restaurant team at Le Candille asked about any allergies, and as her stay continued they re-confirmed the allergies with her. “It’s peace of mind, having zero barriers to communication,” she said.
Challenges of Traveling with Allergies
What most people typically suffer from are food allergies – dairy, eggs, shellfish, nuts, and gluten being some of the common ones. But there are others (like chocolate) which can also become a life-threatening issue.
Those of us who don’t suffer from allergies tend to think no further than common food allergies (and certainly not about an allergy to chocolate! Mon Dieu!)
In addition to the typical food allergies, there are also potentially dangerous allergy triggers like mould, dust, feather pillows, heavily fragranced towels, sheets and room amenities, and – not least of all – animal dander. Traveling with any of these allergies can cause many who are allergic to multiple irritants – or are severely allergic to even a single irritant – to stay home. It can be just too much of a dangerous endeavour to risk.
Why a Language Barrier Shouldn’t Stop You from Traveling
Along with allergies, there is another closely-related problem that can inhibit travel: the language barrier.
For visitors from many countries, language barriers are a significant hurdle when traveling. You may have studied French for years in school, but if you haven’t practiced it and used the language regularly, you have probably forgotten most of what you learned.
And to be fair, the typical rapid-fire French conversation may leave you in the dust even if you do remember what you learned! This is not meant to scare you. Today we have apps like Google Translate which nearly eliminates the language barrier in some cases. While apps aren’t foolproof and don’t solve every problem, they do help in many cases.
For instance, if you are allergic to multiple things – even with learning a few words from the locale you’ll be visiting – there could be a large risk. What happens if you mispronounce the word? Or the local accent is vastly different from the pronunciation you learned? Or if you forget the words? (as happened to our guest more than once!) Or if you forget your phone where you saved the information? Every one of these could mean a trip to the hospital or worse.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to cope with a potential language barrier:
- Always reach out to your hotel in advance of travel and talk with them about your needs. Hotels do want you to have a memorable stay and will do everything possible to ensure it.
- There is usually always someone who understands English nearby (even if just a small amount!)
- Be sure to learn a few words of the local language before you go – ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, and any critical medical issues (like allergies). Write them on paper to keep in your pocket and save them to your phone as well for easy access. You could even use a printable translation card.
- Remember you can always act out what you mean, or draw a picture. You’d be surprised how effective that can be!
At Le Mas Candille, our guests’ health and well-being are always our primary concern. Our team focuses on ensuring our restaurant addresses any food allergies – no matter what language our guests speak.
There are always ways to protect yourself and communicate without being fluent in a language. You don’t have to let allergies and language barriers limit or define your travel dreams.