Traveling while vegan (especially if you’re new to the lifestyle) can seem daunting, but there’s really no reason to panic. With some simple preparation, it’s easy and fun to remain vegan on a summer trip–or any time! Whether you’re flying, road-tripping, or even camping, vegan food is abundant and delicious.
To help, we’ve put together a few tips to make your summer vacation even easier while remaining plant-based for the animals, yourself, and the planet. So kick back, relax, and know you can enjoy some vegan eats wherever you’re heading!
Pack Plenty of Vegan Snacks
Vegan options are becoming more and more commonplace around the globe as plant-based demand soars. Still, they still aren’t always guaranteed. Make sure to pack some nutrient-dense snacks like trail mix or protein bars to keep you satiated. This is especially important if you’re flying, as not every airline has a filling vegan food option! Feel free to pack some veggies, crackers, etc., for your flight. You can even find individual hummus packs under 3oz that are TSA-friendly!
If you’re on a road trip and have the space, pack a cooler with some pre-made sandwiches, hummus, and other yummy foods. Not only is it vegan, it can be more budget-friendly than eating out on the road. Plus, having snacks on hand can buy you time if you start to get hungry but can’t find vegan food right away.
Download Apps like Happy Cow
Get help where you can! Apps like Happy Cow have databases full of vegan and vegetarian restaurants that you can easily search by your location. Remember, apps like these are user-driven, so double check information where you can–and feel free to add any vegan spots you find!
Looking for a helpful ebook? Try ones like “The Essential Vegan Travel Guide” by Caitlin Galer-Unti.
Know Before You Go
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to explore and try new food! Before you go, research some vegan restaurants you may want to try. No worries if you can’t find strictly vegan or vegetarian restaurants–many local cuisines and restaurants include delicious veggie options.
If you’re traveling internationally and can’t count on cellular data, map out vegan destinations before you leave so you don’t end up lost and hungry. Especially if you have kids, you know that it’s easy to go from fine to hangry in the blink of an eye, and knowing where to go can help you avoid feeling like you don’t have any options.
Learn Key Phrases
If you’re traveling abroad, try learning a few phrases in the local language(s) so you can communicate your dietary needs! Or, download Google Translate for an easy way to communicate with your phone.
If you can’t find any restaurants with vegan-specific menu items, that’s okay! Talk to your server and get creative–many side dishes are already vegan or can be prepared that way Even in airport terminals with limited options you should be able to throw something together. Look for Mexican, Mediterranean or Thai venues–they often have vegan-friendly dishes or ones that can be ordered vegan.
If all else fails, there’s always cheeseless pizza, french fries, or a side salad in a pinch.
Embrace Local Fruits and Veggies
Going somewhere tropical? Lucky you–you should have all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies at your fingertips! Talk to your host or concierge about what is available to you, and what they recommend as safe to eat.
Even if you’re not in a tropical paradise, check out local farmers markets! Not only can you pick up some fruit to eat on-the-go or grocery staples to have on hand in your hotel, you can also often find plant-based vendors with great vegan food you wouldn’t have otherwise run across.
Prioritize Lodging With a Kitchen
If you can, book your lodging in a space that provides an area to cook. Sites like AirBnb and VRBO make it easy to find a place to stay with a kitchen. Cooking for yourself some days makes it easy to eat vegan and it can help your budget.
If you’re staying in a hotel, try to look for one that provides a mini-fridge for any groceries or leftovers you may want to store. Additionally, many hostels have shared kitchens you can use!
Camping or Backpacking? No Worries.
A lot of camping staples are already vegan, like nutrient-dense nuts, dried fruits, and peanut butter. If you have limited room in your pack, things like oatmeal and protein powder are also lightweight but filling options to have on the trail. Also try bringing Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) with you! It’s a lightweight ground-beef-like ingredient that can easily be rehydrated over a campfire and used in many ways–like in chilis or simply mixed with veggies. Just remember to pack a small container of your favorite spices or some veggie bouillon cubes to add flavor!
Be Patient and Respectful
Especially in different areas of the world, people may not know what “vegan” means. You may have to say “no meat, egg, or dairy ingredients,” or request specific menu items customized (i.e. could I have the pasta but add the veggies from the chicken dish?). Most servers and chefs will be willing to work with you, and may even enjoy a culinary challenge–as long as you’re patient and grateful. Plus, remember to tip your server for the extra effort if you’re in a place where that’s customary!
Stuart McDonald is a Creative Writer at Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. She is passionate about making an ethical lifestyle easy and accessible for all and collaborating across social movements to create a kinder world. She writes about everything vegan: from plant-based eating to activism to legislation. Read her work on TryVeg.com and COK.net.