Articles Tagged with: Travel Tips

The Process behind the Products

After operating for years as “Allergy Translation”, it’s a real thrill to relaunch our company and products under the “Equal Eats” banner. It was definitely time for refresh and upgrade absolutely everything. I’m really excited to share more about our future vision of how we can help people with food allergy and dietary restrictions eat safely at home and away.

I am really proud of our new product offering, specifically:

  • 36 pre-set cards
  • 500 allergens available for customized cards
  • 50 languages

As much as I am proud of these products, it’s the process that went into them that truly sets them above and beyond in terms of clarity, effectiveness and accuracy.

In total, we had around 1,700 words that needed to translated. Did we use Google Translate? Absolutely not. My food allergies are life-threatening and I take them incredibly seriously. I would never have full peace of mind by putting my life in the hands of  an automated online translator. But before I hired a top-notch translation company, there were many other steps needed first:

Step 1 – Research

I surveyed my existing customers and learned so much valuable information on what they would like to see included on their dream allergy translation card.

Step 2 – Assemble the team

I started an “A-Team” consisting of customers, trusted advisors and others who wanted to provide higher level feedback as the project rolled on. These people are the true reason why the cards are what they are. We debated on big things, and the very smallest details. It helped me realize that there is no black and white “right way” to convey things that will satisfy everyone, but we can create something that is the most effective in all settings, for most people.

Step 3 – Prototyping & feedback

Many versions of the translation cards were created with the help of a professional product designer. Receiving feedback was enlightening as we found customers and foodservice industry workers met in the middle on a lot of things, but with a clear priority to focus on essential information.

Step 4 – Finalize in English

Once we had the overall design ready, we needed to finalize the message to a tee. We did another survey where we sought input from people with various dietary restrictions to help ensure we didn’t miss a thing. We learned so much at this stage about the concerns of people with specific allergies, and other diets. After countless revisions and approvals, we finally nailed down the overall language. This was then reviewed by a professional editor to smooth out any communication issues.

Step 5 – Professional Translations

Finally, right! That’s how we felt too after months and months of planning and prototyping. We used a professional translation agency and deliberately ordered their “premium” service to ensure top accuracy.

Step 6 – Professional Proofreading

As part of the premium service, a professional proofreader verified the accuracy of all translations for each of the 50 languages orderd.

CROSSROAD ALERT – at this point, many people would be satisfied with the accuracy of the cards. Given that these products are being used to convey life-threatening food allergies, I decided to add in a few more steps to be safe.

Step 7 – Review by native language speakers

I tapped into an incredible network within the food allergy community that volunteered to review the translations for their native language. I loved working with people from all over the world who truly “get” food allergies, and have a first-hand grip on the true everyday spoken language. They found that the translations were fantastic, but could be smoothed out even further to ensure that they are understood in more places. Some thought language needed to be simplified, or expanded upon. It was an incredible team of caring people who I am forever thankful to.

Step 8 – Professional proofreading (again)

This was a classic “Hey….it’s me again…” email where I’m certain they thought this project was over. As much as I trust my native speaking reviewers, I wanted to have a professional simply double check that these recommendations are in fact accurate. They happily obliged (amazing customer service!) and mostly agreed on everything. I was put in the middle of a couple proofreader vs. native speaker debates, and we managed to find optimal solutions.

Step 9 – Layout

Now that the translations were accurate and complete, it was time to start laying out the pre-set cards. I am simply not capable of laying out certain languages with unfamiliar characters and line breaks (picture a steady row of Asian characters, would you know where to press “enter” for a line break that also doesn’t alter the meaning? Me either!) So, I hired a team of native language speaking Photoshop experts to lay out the cards in their respective languages. This step ensured the overall readability and clarity of the cards.

Step 10 – Layout review

I also asked the native language speaking volunteers to review the layout of the cards to ensure the information was in fact entered correctly. This was a formality, but unsurfaced a few small corrections. At this point, we felt incredibly confident about the accuracy of the cards and that the process was well worth it.

Even though we went through this lengthy process and believe we’ve created a gold standard in dietary communication cards, we have an ongoing commitment to improving our cards. If you ever have ideas or suggestions to improve them, please reach out!

It feels good to know that we’ve gone through a process that truly brings both sides of the product into consideration – the user and the foodservice industry. Often these tools have been one-sided in the past. It’s important that you are speaking the foodservice language, and if abroad, in their language! We placed equal weight on both sides in terms of what people want to convey, and what the industry needs to hear.

Now that’s a team!

We’re proud of our products.

We’re proud of our process.

We’re proud of the people that made it all happen.

Kyle Dine Equal Eats

Kyle Dine
Equal Eats

Allergy Travel Tips – Restaurants Abroad

Travelling with a food allergy?

Having an Allergy Translation Card will help you communicate at restaurants in a foreign country. However, there are many things to keep in mind when dining out in order to stay safe:
  • Do your research. Planning ahead can pay off by looking at a menu online and getting a feel for what type of food they serve, and whether it might be a risky environment.
  • Carry your epinephrine auto-injector. Never take the chance of eating without it.
  • Use your judgement. If you get a bad feeling about the restaurant, or don’t feel that they are taking your food allergies as seriously, don’t feel obliged to eat there.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Just because a food is safe at home, doesn’t mean it will be prepared the same way in another country. Always inquire about the food you are interested in ordering.
  • Some may not understand “severe allergies”. In some parts of the world, allergies are not very common. It’s important to keep this in mind as some may believe you would only experience minor symptoms if exposed to your allergen. Use our chef sheets for extra communication on severity and cross-contamination.
  • Find a tour. Tour operators and guides can act as a very helpful liaison to navigate safe food options in a place they are much more familiar with.
  • Print extra copies of your card. Hand your translation card to the wait staff, manager and chef to make sure your allergy information is understood by everyone in charge of your order.
  • Say thanks! If you have a great dining experience, be sure to thank your wait staff for their efforts in helping you find a safe meal.

As always, wishing you a safe and enjoyable trip!

Kyle Dine
Equal Eats

Tips for after Purchasing an Allergy Translation Card

There are so many things to think about before going on a trip! Purchasing an Allergy Translation Card is only one step. Here are some helpful tips and resources to help you prepare for your upcoming adventure.

Recommendations for your Allergy Translation Card

Chef Sheets + Emergency Cards

  • View the free resources on our website

Packing List

  • Follow this comprehensive checklist to make sure you’re prepared for your upcoming trip.

Get the Local Scoop

Visit the Allergy Travels group to learn specific information about countries and airlines in relation to food allergies including:
  • Local emergency number
  • Food labelling guidelines
  • First-hand reviews from other allergic travellers
Wishing you a safe and enjoyable trip!
Kyle Dine
CEO and Founder

Setting Yourself up For Success Traveling with Food Allergies

Travelling with food allergies can be a daunting thought for many people, especially with small children. There are many questions about different cultures and taking allergies seriously, emergency preparedness for anaphylaxis, and airline allergy policies.

There is obviously a ton of research that must be done before going on a trip or vacation with food allergies, but there are a few easy things to keep in mind that will help reduce the risk.

Top 5 Tips for Reducing the Risk Traveling with Food Allergies

  1. Read reviews – whether for a hotel, restaurant or airline, look into reviews from others rather than trail blaze yourself. If you can’t find information on allergy-friendly restaurants, look for other qualities that might lend to mindfulness of food restrictions (e.g. vegan restaurant or one with gluten-free options).
  2. Not a time to experiment with food – although food is synonymous with many cultures, try to focus on the other cultural elements such as museums and sights. Stick to the foods that you know and trust and play it safe.
  3. Stick to touristy areas – you will have a much better chance of getting wait staff who are capable in English if you stick to the touristy hot spots. This might mean missing out on some true local flavors, but it will be worth it having more peace of mind at mealtime.
  4. Always have back-up food with you – granola bars, pre-made sandwiches, and other quick snacks will help give you a back-up option in the case you cannot find safe foods. It will also help in not making a foolish decision to risk it with an unknown food on an empty stomach.
  5. Don’t eat airline food – for some reason this is advice that is easier said than done. Pack an incredible meal for yourself that you know will be better than the airline food. Then you won’t feel that you’re missing out. It’s not worth the risk at 20,000 feet.

Happy and safe travels!

Kyle D.