Travelling is for everyone, and your choice of diet should never stop you from discovering all the fantastic places in the world. So if you’ve got the travel bug, but are worrying about how to travel vegan, Skyscanner Australia have knocked up a survival guide of 14 useful tips that will help you make the most out of your next vegan travel adventure.
1. KNOW YOUR RESOURCES
If you’ve not travelled before you may not know of Happy Cow, this excellent website compiles vegan and vegetarian restaurants all over the world, as well as restaurants that serve vegan and veggie meals in case you’re with a more omnivorous group. This site operates worldwide, and if you’re planning stages of your vegan travel trip, it might be an idea just pop in your chosen destination(s), and scan their pages to get an idea of what vegan and vegetarian options there are in the city or region you’re flying to. Google Translate or Waygo (for Chinese, Korean and Japanese characters) are also excellent tools for scanning through ingredients, so you aren’t fooled by some cheeky cheese powder or some gelatin hiding on the back of a package in a foreign language.
2. CONTACT YOUR HOTEL
Accommodation is also a huge helping hand when it comes to staying on top of your dietary needs. Looking for vegan or vegetarian guesthouses will take care of a lot of your dining needs, either in-house or in valuable recommendations. However, if there aren’t any specific vegan-catered accommodation options, just contact your guesthouse, hotel, or hostel that you plan to stay with, and ask if they have vegan breakfast, lunch or dinner options. Most places will do their best to accommodate you.
Shauna-Aine O’Brien, longtime vegan, says that usually getting in touch with the owners of a guesthouse or B&B can widen your options “Hostels, Airbnb and Couchsurfing are all great options. I stayed with a non-vegan host through Couchsurfing, and in my messages explained why I’d like to use the kitchen, and she researched veganism and prepared an amazing meal for me!”
3. COOK YOUR OWN FOOD
Which brings us to our next hot tip, don’t rule out cooking for yourself. If you’re really off the beaten track, we suggest staying in a hostel or guesthouse that provides you with access to a kitchen. Not only because they’re budget friendly, but because then you can prep or cook meals that fit your dietary restrictions. Even if you’re just making a peanut butter sarnie for a lunchtime snack, access to a kitchen is super helpful. Hostels will usually have a kitchen-use option, as will many AirBnBs, just double check with your host.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND
There are tons of Facebook groups and forums dedicated to vegan travel and you will often find the best on-the-ground hints and tips there. Pinterest is also unexpectedly helpful, just put in keywords like ‘vegan’, ‘restaurant’ and your destination and you’ll be surprised how many options crop up. You can also look for excellent recommendations on Instagram by popping in hashtags like #vegantravel, #veganfoodshare, #veganrestaurants or our personal fave: #veganaf.
Social media is also very useful when it comes to double checking the restaurant you plan to go to is still open for business at the time you’re planning to go. Check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds for details on opening hours.
5. PRE-ORDER YOUR INFLIGHT MEAL
Not the most exciting tip, but an important one. Pre-ordering your flight meals in advance of your flight by ticking the vegan or vegetarian option is paramount if you’re going to be on a flight where they serve food. And always bring some vegan snacks and vegan food to travel with in case you get hungry in between meals.
6. LEARN SOME KEY PHRASES
In countries where the language barrier is going to be a problem, learning how to say ‘I don’t eat meat, fish, or dairy’ can eliminate awkward restaurant encounters, especially if veganism isn’t a well-known concept where you’re travelling. Knowing a bit about the cuisine of the country you are adding to your vegan tour to can really help you avoid ingesting anything you want to avoid, for instance, in Japan fish stock is used in many soup bases, so don’t be afraid to be specific about what you can and can’t eat. There’s this handy tool called the Vegan Passport found here, that has compiled a whole list of useful phrases in a number of different languages, so you won’t get caught out when ordering. What’s more, is they’ve just rolled out a new app, so you can access those phrases whenever you need to.
7. RESEARCH SHMEESEARCH
We know. We can feel you rolling your eyes from here, but researching the cuisine of your destination-o-choice can really take a lot of the pressure off when you fly in, especially if you’re a first time traveller. Destinations that are typically perfect for vegan travel are India, Taiwan, Canada, the USA, Germany, Thailand, Israel, and the UK.
8. DON’T FORGET ABOUT TOILETRIES
Always the last thing anyone thinks about (how many times have we all forgotten to bring toothpaste?), but if you have vegetarian and vegan friendly toiletries at home make sure you decant some of them in some travel-sized bottles, so you aren’t caught out for soap and shampoo after a dusty hike or a day touring the city.
9. PACK PLENTY OF SNACKS
Whether you’re flying with just a carry on, or putting a huge case in the hold, you will be able to bring familiar dry snacks with you. This is especially helpful if you’re planning to go hiking, or on all-day tours where vegan friendly snacks and lunch may be harder to come by. If you’re going out for the day and can get to a supermarket for fresher ingredients, keep your blood sugar levels happy by packing things like hummus, bean dip, veg sticks, falafels (if you can find them), and bananas. Also, if you are feeling like your blood sugar is a little low, grab a full-sugar soda or a Pocari Sweat (yes, it’s really called that) to keep you going, the combo of all that salt and sugar is helpful ‘til you can chow down.
10. BUDGET ACCORDINGLY
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that being vegan in a foreign country can be a little more expensive. Cheap roadside snacks are often out of the question, so keep in mind when budgeting for your trip that you my have to spend a little bit more on your day-to-day.
11. EMBRACE ZEN
Buddhist and Hare Krishna temples and food halls are all over the world, and as they only serve vegetarian food they can be a Godsend in some of the tougher dietary destinations. Many serve vegan food as well, but you will have to double check before you go.
12. PASS IT ON
The whole sharing and caring thing really can make a difference, if you’re vegetarian and vegan and find an ace restaurant that caters to your needs and isn’t on any of the resources listed above, list it! You’ll be helping out a fellow intrepid vegan traveller find their way to delicious food. List your finds on Happy Cow or the local vegan travel forums.
13. GET EXCITED
International vegan cuisine and vegetarian cuisine is truly exciting as there are so many delicious foods out their just waiting to be eaten! A gastronomic vegan tour can really broaden your own cooking horizons and yes, we’ll admit it, your belt loops. Don’t be afraid to embark on a travel trip because of your lifestyle choices, embrace them! As our consultant vegan Shauna-Aine O’Brien says: “I don’t think anything could put me off travel or veganism. Both are super important to me, so I make it work” and you can too.
Happy Cow (all hail the Happy Cow!) has a list of the top vegan restaurants in the world, even in locations that are notoriously meat happy (we’re looking at you Argentina). Prepare to strain your waistline, because there’s a whole world of food waiting for you!
Feature Image: One Green Planet Content Credits: Skyscanner
Skyscanner Australia is a leading travel search engine, comparing millions of prices from airlines and online travel agencies to help travellers find the best deal on their flights, hotels and car hire with no added fees.
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” –Virginia Woolf