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Best Lactose Intolerance Pills and Tips for Traveling With Lactose Intolerance

I’ve traveled to over 20 countries and have had my share of problematic food experiences since I’m severely lactose intolerant. From having to guess whether a seemingly innocent food has cream in it to forgoing a delicious local delicacy because I forgot my lactose pills, it’s made me extra prepared for when I travel. Now I always have the best lactose intolerance pills I’ve tried on me and remember my favorite tips for traveling with lactose intolerance.

Learn from my mistakes and be prepared for when you travel with lactose intolerance. Read on for my best tips and suggestion for lactose intolerance pills.

Want to skip the reading and buy my favorite lactose intolerance pills? Get the Now Dairy Digest Complete brand.

How Lactose Intolerance Pills Work

stack of the best lactose intolerance pills

Once I figured out I was lactose intolerant, I started taking lactase enzyme pills, which in short, add the lactase enzyme to your stomach and breaks down the lactase in the food that you’re eating. You take this pill with the first bite of your food, and if you don’t have more than the equivalent to one cup of milk, then for the most part, you will be lactose intolerant symptom free.

Of course, lactose intolerant pills aren’t 100% fool-proof. If the lactase enzyme from the pill doesn’t touch all the lactase from your food, then chances are, you can still have symptoms from lactose intolerance like bloating and gas.

Nonetheless, lactose intolerant pills have generally done a very good job for me. At the most, I’ll have to go to the bathroom a few hours after eating dairy, but it’s normal and not intense or painful.

Now, since we’ve got the nasty chat out of the way, let’s talk about the lactose intolerance pills I take.

The Best Lactose Intolerance Pills I’ve Tried

I started out taking the lactase enzyme brand, Lactaid. It’s the one that’s most commonly found in drugstores in the US. These worked great for awhile until they didn’t. I found myself having to take two or three at a time for them to work. In addition, they’re quite expensive so the cost of me eating dairy was not worth me buying the pills since they weren’t 100% effective.

So I did some research online and found NOW brand’s Dairy Digest Complete on Amazon. Thank you Amazon! These worked much better than Lactaid, and I only need to take one of these vs. two or three of the Lactaid brand.

The NOW lactase pills have more than just the lactase enzyme. It also has protease and lipase. To be honest, I don’t know what these are but these extra enzymes must be the reason why these pills work better than Lactaid.

These pills are also cheaper than Lactaid, but it comes with a downside. Certain Lactaid pills come in a nifty single dose pouch, which makes it easy to travel with. Now Dairy Digest brand pills don’t have single dose containers.

However, I easily solve this by carrying my NOW Dairy Digest pills in this small aluminum pill carrying case that I attach my keys on. That way I always have a lactase pill on me!

Best Tips for Traveling With Lactose Intolerance

Alright, now you know what my favorite lactose intolerance pills are and how I carry them around, here are my best tips for traveling with lactose intolerance. Let’s avoid unexpected, unpleasant surprises while you’re traveling so you can make the most of your trip!

Understand the local cuisine of your destination.

Doing research before a trip is quite important. Get a fair understanding of the local dishes with a quick Google search. A lot of food may have milk or its products as an ingredient, but if you know about them you can always avoid eating them.


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Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food are pretty safe bets when it comes to dairy-free food.

For example, majority of the Asian countries usually have milk and cheese dishes whereas if you go to Western Europe such as the Netherlands or France, you’ll definitely have to watch out for cheese.

Learn the native tongue.

Another way to prep is by picking up a few words in the local language. From experience, you need to be very expressive and direct when it comes to health. There’s been a few times when I’ve asked people if there was dairy in my food and they said no, only to find out on my first bite there actually was.

You should at least write down the dairy products in the local dialect so you can have them on hand to clearly say ‘no milk’, ‘no cheese’ or ‘lactose intolerant’. Here’s how to say these things in a few languages:

Arabicbidun halibla jabanghyr qadir ealaa tahmil alllaktuz
Afrikaansgeen melkgeen kaaslaktose onverdraagsaamheid
ChineseMéiyǒu niúnǎiMéiyǒu nǎilàoRǔtáng bù nài zhèng
FrenchPas de LaitPas de FromageAllergique au Lait
Hindibilkul doodh nahinkoee paneer nahindugdhasharkara asahishnu
JapaneseNani no gyūnyūmasenNani no chīzumasenNyūtōfutaishō
Portugesesem leitesem queijointolerância a lactose
PunjabiKō’ī dudhaKō’ī panīraLaikaṭōza asahiṇaśīlatā
SpanishSin LecheSin QuesoIntolerancia a la Lactosa
ThaiMị̀mī nmMị̀mī chīs̄Phæ̂ lækh to

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Update: A Redditor pointed out that saying “Intolerancia a la Lactosa” wasn’t very effective in Mexico. He had to overstate his issue by exclaiming “Tener alergia a productos lácteos” and “Sin queso, sin leche, sin crema, sin mantequilla, etcétera”. It got tiring but was more safe than simply saying he was lactose intolerant.

If you’re highly lactose intolerant, then you might want to over-explain and say you can’t have cheese, milk, cream, etc. because I, too, have had experiences where I said “no dairy” and still got cheese in my food.

Bring along lactose intolerance pills to prevent issues.

As we talked about above, make sure to pack your lactose intolerance pills in a case or bag that you’ll always have on you! This is key to preventing stomach issues and allowing yourself to eat yummy local foods like tiramisu.

You may also want to pack Pepto Bismol or whatever is going to soothe your stomach just in case you do eat dairy by accident.

Pack some snacks in your bag.

It’s always a good idea to have a dairy-free snack in your bag such as a granola bar or banana. Sometimes, planes don’t offer non-dairy food, or it may take you awhile in a new city to find food without dairy. In spite of planning things wisely, something can take place unexpectedly.

It might also help to know the locations of supermarkets and stores near your place. If everything else fails, you can always go for fruits and veggies as they are usually safe to consume.

Gelato and Lactose Intolerance

dairy gelato vegan lactose intolerance pills

When I first went to Italy, I wondered, “What is gelato made of?” It seemed like ice cream but because it tasted a little bit better and was made differently, I was hoping it didn’t have dairy. But if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Gelato has dairy in it!

Since gelato has dairy in it, this makes it a poor choice of dessert for both people with lactose intolerance and vegans! However, for the lactose intolerant, you can take dairy pills as we talked about above.

No matter what, when in Italy, always have these dairy pills on you! Don’t miss out on delicious Italian gelato.

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It’s time to make the most of your vacation and not be so stressed about the food. Remember these tips for lactose intolerance when planning and traveling, and you’ll have an (almost) care-free vacation focused on fun, not food!

Thanks for stopping by. Reach out to me on Instagram to say hi! xo.

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Vibeke Johannessen

Tuesday 12th of June 2018

It must be annoying to try lactose pills and they stop working. My sister uses one of those and it works well. I can't imagine having lactose intolerance. It must be challenging, especially travelling to third world country. It is so many things to think about, and it is a good idea to know what milk means in the country you visit. Thank you so much for sharing.


Thursday 7th of June 2018

This is such a great post for travelers who are lactose intolerant like me. I always take snacks and pills with me since my stomach is quite weak when it comes to dairy and new foods. I generally don't worry about dairy and cheese when I'm visiting Asian countries, but have to be aware when in other countries. Wish I had a stomach made of steal because it's so hard for me to resist cheese!!


Thursday 7th of June 2018

I live between London and Italy, and yes, dairy is a big part of our culture in the latter! I'm not lactose intolerant but it's great that you're sharing this information for those who are. Very cool you have the translations too!

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Thank you so much for your awesome support.