When you go vegan, it takes time to get in your groove to figure out what foods work best for you and where to find those foods around town.
It all seems easy enough until you realize that fun vacation you planned means you’ll have to navigate eating vegan while traveling.
It can sound intimidating because you won’t have the comforts of home and your usual restaurants. Thankfully, there are a few tips I’ve discovered that are super helpful for traveling on a plant-based diet.
Every year, my husband and I plan one major vacation that allows us to turn off everyday life, reset, and reconnect with ourselves and each other.
In the five years we’ve been married (happy anniversary, babe!), we’ve been blessed to be able to experience Hawaii, Mexico, and even a cruise to the Caribbean!
This year, to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided to change things up a bit. Europe here we come! (Click here to get an email when I post all about eating vegan in Italy).
Having jet-setted a good amount (for work and pleasure), we’ve really started to nail down how to travel on a plant-based diet.
One thing I’ve realized is that when you’re gearing up for a long flight what you put in your carry-on is critical.
Though I’ll already be back from my trip by the time you read this, I thought what a better idea than to write a list of my favorite vegan travel tips while I pack!
Travel Snacks for Vegans
The day before I jet off, I always make a trip to the grocery store to stock up on plane-friendly foods. And what are plane-friendly foods you might ask?
The perfect vegan travel foods:
- are calorie dense (small but mighty)
- will hold you over
- have clean, healthy ingredients
- will give you extra hydration
- don’t require refrigeration
- and are not smelly (you don’t want to be that person)
My favorite airplane snacks used to be pretzels. I don’t know there was just something about them that tasted so good 30,000 feet in the air.
But with all that salt and processed ingredients, I ditched them for much healthier options.
Some of my favorite vegan travel snacks are:
- Fresh fruit (mandarins, grapes, bananas, dates, etc. – anything with a peel or that won’t get ruined in your bag)
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruit (the Just Mangos from Trader Joe’s are my favorite)
- Amazing Grass Protein Superfood bars (the chocolate almond butter flavor is so good!)
With all that said, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy a bunch of pre-packaged food in order to stay full while traveling.
You can totally make food at home and bring it with you. Just make sure that it still follows the plane-friendly “guidelines” above.
You’ll also want to make sure it won’t need to be put in a hard container that’s going to take up a bunch of space. Something that can be put in a ziplock or wrapped in a paper towel is ideal.
Some ideas of vegan travel food you can make at home are:
- Granola bars
- Roasted chickpeas
- and of course you can always prep fresh fruit or veggies
Airline Special Vegan Meal Request
If you’re going on a long-haul flight like we are and your airline is providing a meal service, make sure you submit your special meal request ahead of time.
Fortunately, as the plant based diet has become more popular, many airlines are now offering a vegan in-flight meal option.
To submit your meal request, first check your airline’s website within your reservation.
We’re flying Virgin Atlantic on the way there and they made it super easy. Just search your reservation and scroll down and select the “Choose meals” icon on the right.
A window will pop up and you can click “Request meal” and choose the “Vegan vegetarian meal” in the drop down. Easy peasy! (Note: be sure to select that for each vegan traveler)
On our return flight, we’re flying with Delta, who did not make the process so easy. On the Delta website, the only information I could find about in-flight meals under my reservation was just that they’re subject to change.
So I had to call them, sit on hold, and even then they said the vegan option is raw vegetables. I’m sorry but all you’re going to feed me on a 13-hour flight is a plate of raw veggies?!
I’m hoping I was misinformed, but I’ll be sure to share with you what the actual vegan options are when I return.
Tip: Never rely on the airline to feed you. Always have enough food in your bag to keep you satisfied throughout the flight. If you get a vegan in-flight meal that you’re comfortable eating (it is airplane food after all), consider it a bonus.
Drink tons of water
There are so many people who don’t drink water during their flight because they either don’t think of it or they don’t want to have to get up and use the bathroom.
DON’T DO THIS!
Drinking water on a flight should be your number 1 priority.
Why? During a 10-hour flight, men can lose 2 liters of water and women can lose 1.6 liters. That’s a lot of water!
So just to come out neutral, you should be drinking at least that much.
If guzzling down a bunch of plain water doesn’t sound appealing to you, bring some goodies to spice it up a bit.
You can pack a little container of lemon juice (or hey, bring the whole lemon) to add to whatever water you’re drinking.
I’m planning on bringing a few packets of my favorite teas (including valerian root to help me knock out for a bit).
Or you can buy some coconut water at the airport before you board your plane.
I know it can be easy to forget to drink enough water so try setting a goal for yourself. Something like, drink half a liter every hour. That’ll keep you super hydrated.
If that’s not feasible because you’re planning to conk out for a bit like I am, try to drink at least a liter before you board your plane and just keep taking those big gulps whenever you’re awake.
Eco-friendly travel tip: Pack a reusable water bottle like this one to refill throughout your trip!
Research Vegan Options at Your Destination
Once you land, it’s time to explore and enjoy your vacation! The last thing you want is to find yourself frantically searching for a vegan-friendly restaurant as you fend off your hanger.
It’s best to take some time ahead of your trip to scope out the area online and see what vegan restaurants are available.
Try searching “vegan in (your destination)” either in Google, YouTube or Pinterest.
There are so many awesome people out there sharing their favorite vegan restaurants in cities all over the world. Check out this one I wrote about eating vegan in Hawaii.
This is a great way to discover authentic restaurants off the beaten path. Restaurants that are often less expensive and more generous with their portions because they’re not flooded with tourists.
Also be sure to check out Happy Cow. Their website is free to use and you just search your destination and it will show you all the vegan restaurants and those with vegan options.
Each listing on the website has an abundance of information like a description, reviews, and a map! This is super handy to check things out ahead of time as well as while you’re strolling around town.
And if you’re still looking for more, there’s always Google Maps!
Book a place with a kitchen
If you’re the kind of person who likes to have the comforts of home no matter where you are in the world, consider staying in a hotel with in-room kitchens, or even booking an apartment.
This way, you are in total control of what you eat. Just make a quick stop at the grocery store when you arrive and you’re set!
Hint: If you want to eat as clean and healthy as possible while on vacation, this is probably the best way to go because, like I said, you’re in control of what goes into your food. You can make it exactly to your liking.
As an added bonus, skipping the restaurants and making your own meals will save you major cash.
Check out sites like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, or many of the other vacation rental sites out there.
With these 5 tips in hand, your vegan travels are bound to be full of tasty food.
Be sure to check out my Instagram to see pics of all the pizza, pasta, gelato and more that I’ll be eating in Italy!
Traveling for business? Check out this post I wrote all about how to stay vegan while traveling for work.
And please do me a favor and click the buttons below to share this post on social media to help more people see how easy it is to travel as a vegan.