Allergy-Friendly Study Abroad Guide: Madrid, Spain

Anya is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain while managing tree nut allergies. She is currently a junior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Marketing, Strategic Business Development, and Entrepreneurship. You can find her on Spokin @anyaranj13 and on Instagram @anya.abroad13.

Planning + Tips | Getting There | Favorite Eats | Places Visited | Attractions

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Where are you studying abroad?

I am studying in Madrid, Spain. I wanted to go somewhere new and be able to travel with my friends!

Had you been out of the country before and do you speak the local language?

Yes, I’ve been out of the country before this trip and no, I don’t speak the local language.

Did you plan anything ahead of time?

I prepared by learning key phrases in the local language and I printed out an allergy card but have never used it.

What are your best tips for studying abroad with food allergies?

The word for nuts in Spain is frutos secos—not nueces!

Did you have any concerns about traveling with food allergies?

Yes, I was aware of how challenging it can be to find food options and travel safely, but I knew that I couldn’t let my fears restrict me from this once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad.

What airline did you fly? How did you handle accommodations and airplane food?

I flew Iberia! I always buy food at the airport so I grabbed McDonald’s to keep me satiated. I didn’t eat any of the airplane food.

Where do you live and how were meals handled?

I’m staying in an apartment. I buy my own food at a mercado (grocery store) or go out to eat.

What are your 3 favorite places to eat in Madrid?

Tiki Taco Clavel had amazing food and felt very safe for allergies. They had a chart of the most common food allergens by the door and had symbols by menu items depicting the trouble areas. While I can’t speak for the safety protocols in terms of cross contamination for other allergens, I felt such a sense of relief when I was told it was a nut-free kitchen. Phenomenal food, fun cocktails, and above all else—a safe environment to enjoy! I also loved Oven and Ramen Kagura.

Is there any food your study abroad location is known for that you were able to have safely?

Yes! I have been able to eat tapas at multiple spots (Tapas Tapas, Cafe Tapas, etc.) very safely. There are not usually nuts in tapas foods and places have a chart to ensure there is a degree of safety.

What other places have you visited so far?

I’ve visited Seville here in Spain. I’ve also gotten to visit several other countries—Morocco, Germany, France, Ireland, Hungary, England, and Portugal. In Germany, I went to Cologne, Bonn, and Dusseldorf. In Ireland, I visited Dublin, where I ate at Elephant and Castle. In England, I visited London and found a safe restaurant, Dishoom. In Hungary, I visited Budapest, and in France I visited Nice, Eze, and Mónaco. I also visited Oporto and Lisbon in Portugal!

Besides the food, were there any fun experiences or favorite things you did?

Sightseeing and visiting museums!

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