Many people do fine at home while on a whole food, plant-based diet. But they start to get nervous about upholding their dietary preferences on the road. The good news is, eating plant-based doesn’t mean you are stuck at home. With some preparation and planning, you can eat this way anywhere. So, in this post, I’ve got some tips and tricks to make your plant-based travel a success.
Plan for Success
When travelling plant-based, it’s helpful to do a little research on your destination ahead of time. Check out if there are any vegan restaurants in the area you are staying. You can do this on google by searching “vegan restaurants + city you are travelling to. There are also websites and apps like Happy Cow and Yelp that can give you valuable information on where you can find some vegan eats. It’s also a good idea to look for a grocery store or natural food market close to where you are staying.
Have a look at the amenities where you will be staying. If you’re staying with family or friends, will you have access to a kitchen? If you’re staying in a hotel, what kind of appliances will be in your room? Most will have a small bar fridge, but some will have more, like a microwave, coffee maker or kettle. If it’s an option, consider a room with a kitchenette, so you will be able to cook while on your trip. It can be more difficult (and expensive) if you have to rely on restaurants for all of your meals.
While you’re checking out the room amenities, have a look at the menu for the hotel restaurant. Is breakfast provided? What kind of things are included? Do they have vegan options at the restaurant for lunch or dinner time? This is helpful to know in advance, so you can prepare accordingly.
For breakfast, you may be able to find things like oats, fresh fruit, or toast with nut butter at the hotel restaurant. If they don’t have these options, don’t sweat it. These are things you can easily prepare in your room.
Plant-Based Travel by Car
If you’re driving to your destination, you’ll have more control over the food situation. You can pack some easy meals in a cooler to eat along the way. This gives you some freedom to stop only when you want to, perhaps when you’ve found a great vegan restaurant you want to try. Otherwise, you can eat the food you brought along with you.
Some options for meals you can bring along:
- Sandwiches or wraps – Made with nut butter and fruit, hummus and veggies, or mashed chickpeas mixed with some veggies, herbs and vegan mayo.
- Pasta or grain salad – A nice mix of pasta or grains, with vegetables, beans and an oil-free dressing.
- Overnight oats or chia pudding – Made in advance
- Fresh fruit and veggies – You can also bring along some hummus for dipping.
- Roasted Chickpeas – An easy source of protein
- Trail mix or granola – Including nuts, seeds, oats, and dried fruit
- Baked potato with some salsa and black beans, or other favourite toppings.
If you have a good thermos, you can even consider bringing something warm, like a nice soup.
Plant-Based Travel by Plane
When travelling by plane, you can still bring your own food, but you’ll need to look into the security regulations at the airport, as well as customs regulations for your destination city. As a good rule of thumb, you’ll need to limit liquids in your carry-on and expect that produce from out of the country will be confiscated on your arrival (if you’re flying internationally).
There are ways around this though. For liquids, keep the foods you bring on the plane pretty dry. You can bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once you are through security.
For produce, just make sure you eat this first on your journey, so you don’t need to worry about it being confiscated upon your arrival.
Pack things like:
- Sandwiches or wraps
- Salad bowl – with a thick dressing, you may have trouble with liquids
- Snack bars
- Overnight oats – just go easy on the non-dairy milk so that most of it is absorbed
- Trail mix
- Harder fruits – softer ones may get squished
- Vegetables with hummus
Keep in mind that you can also pack some of your favourite dried goods to eat on your trip. You can include some of those in your checked baggage. Just be sure you adhere to the customs rules of your destination country.
If you’re on a long plane ride, a meal may be included with your flight. If this is the case, contact the airline and see if they have a vegan option for you. It’s always best to bring your own food though, just in case.
When You Arrive
So you made it to your destination. What else should you do to make your plant-based travel a success?
Get settled in your room and check out what your cooking options are. Then, head out to that grocery store you found back when you were preparing for your trip. It’s a good idea to pick up some staple foods that you can keep in your room so you aren’t forced to eat every meal out. Choose things that you can prepare easily with the appliances you have available in your room.
- Fresh fruit
- Vegetables and hummus
- Potatoes – can be cooked in a microwave
- A loaf of whole grain bread
- Nut butter
- Instant oats – look for ones without added sugar. These can be made easily if you have a kettle or coffee maker to heat water in your room.
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruits
- Non-dairy milk – if you have access to a fridge
- Canned beans
- Quick-cooking grains
Equipment That Can Help
If you don’t have access to cooking tools in your room, there are some items you may consider bringing from home.
- A blender is handy for smoothies, dressings and sauces.
- A rice cooker can be useful for cooking dried grains and steaming vegetables.
- An instant pot is a great tool for sautéing, steaming or even making one-pot meals.
- An electric skillet or hot plate can also be handy for some light cooking in your room.
You may also want to consider bringing some small kitchen tools, if possible. Like a knife, small cutting board, a can opener, a wooden spoon or spatula, a bowl and some cutlery.
Out and About
It’s always good to bring some snacks with you on your outings. This can save you if you’re having trouble finding restaurants with vegan options. When travelling plant-based, you need to be prepared for these situations.
Consider bringing things like fresh fruit, trail mix, veggies and hummus, granola bars or dried fruits.
If you won’t have many food options available to you that day, consider packing a small picnic with wraps, sandwiches or salads that you can dig into when you get hungry. When trying to eat healthfully, your food is always the best food.
When eating out, aim to eat free of animal products. It’s getting easier and easier to find vegan options at restaurants, but you may need to be a little flexible where oil and sugar are concerned. Remember that it’s all about balance. If you know there’s oil in your meal, perhaps consider choosing a side salad or steamed vegetables to accompany it. I always try to be flexible about this when dining out. I keep an oil-free kitchen at home, so I don’t sweat the odd meal out, as long as I can find something vegan.
If you’re travelling to another country, be prepared to read menus carefully. It’s a good idea to jot down words for animal-based foods in the language of the country you are visiting. This way you can avoid dishes that list those items on the menu. It can also be helpful to learn how to ask for vegan options in the native language of the country you are visiting. Most restaurants are more than willing to help you find something to eat if you can properly communicate what you are looking for.
The Bottom Line
With a little planning and preparation, you can easily adhere to your plant-based lifestyle on the road. There’s no need to feel like you are stuck at home when you eat this way. With a little creativity, you can certainly eat well anywhere in the world. These tips and tricks should help to make your plant-based travel a success.
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