Traveling as a vegan comes with a unique set of difficulties. Are you going to be able to find something to eat? Is the free shampoo in your hotel room cruelty-free? Will you be able to tell local chefs that you don’t eat animal products? These are just some of the challenges you are going to face as a vegan traveler. Because veganism is growing in popularity I thought it was time to make a list of ten tips for traveling vegan.
Don’t Forget to Book Your Vegan Meal on Your Flights in Advance
One of the easiest mistakes to make when you’re booking everything for your trip is forgetting to request a vegan meal on your flights. Sometimes airlines will have one or two extra on board just in case, but that is pretty rare and you shouldn’t rely on it.
I have been on many flights where I’ve seen vegans who have forgotten to request a vegan meal try to decide between not eating anything at all or giving in for just one meal. I’m a flexitarian who eats plant-based primarily for environmental reasons and there has been more than one time I’ve given up my vegan meal to ethical vegans who were fully prepared to go without food on a 12-hour flight from San Francisco to Paris. These strangers were incredibly grateful and one time they even tried to pay me for it. Instead, I simply asked them to pass the good deed on sometime soon. The moral of the story, well one of the morals is to remember to take care of your special needs in advance.
Make Sure Your Hotel Offers Vegan Breakfasts
Along that same vein of thought, make sure that the hotel you’re booking offers vegan breakfast options and inquire about what they are in advance. I’ve read too many horror stories of vegans who have confirmed with their hotels that vegan options are available for breakfast only to discover everything is based around eggs. Thankfully this isn’t as common anymore as it used to be thanks to spreading awareness about what is and isn’t vegan. But it can still happen. So, if you are staying somewhere that offers breakfast, give them a call and see what options you will have. Or you can go with the next option…
Consider Staying at Vegan Hotels
Did you know there are some hotels out there that cater specifically to vegans? These hotels can be found all around the world and before you resign yourself to thinking they’ll all be expensive, they actually aren’t. I’ve seen some on Veggie Hotels (not a sponsor) under $30/€30 a night. If you’re looking for a vegan hotel then I highly recommend making Veggie Hotels your first port of call. They’ve got a list of hotels from over 60 countries and you can specify things like Raw food diet, 100% vegan, and if pets are allowed.
Know a Couple of Nearby Vegan Restaurant Options
Before you leave, especially if you’re going to be going to smaller towns, do a bit of research to find out where your nearby vegan restaurant options are going to be. Personally, I like having one within quick walking distance just in case I get sick while I’m away. This way I can still easily get food, even if I have to walk there to get it myself. There are very few parts of the world where you can be one hundred percent guaranteed that there will be a vegan restaurant where you’re traveling to. TripAdvisor (#notasponsor) is a fantastic site to look at for places that offer vegan options. But there is also another site you might want to check out..
Use Happy Cow
Have you heard the good word about Happy Cow? (#notasponsor) It’s a site I only learned about recently that is quite similar to Yelp, but primarily for vegans and vegetarians. It isn’t as popular as Trip Advisor or Yelp and as a result it may not have all of the restaurants that offer vegan options, but it is a great way to find out about restaurants that are 100% vegan. I like to use it during the planning phase of my trip to get a good idea of what the vegan scene is like where I want to go. It is usually my first stop when I’m looking for vegan options.
Bring Your Own Soap and Shampoo
If you aren’t staying in a vegan hotel make sure you bring your own soap and shampoo. This isn’t necessarily because there will be animal products in the ones hotels provide, though that could happen, the real reason I recommend doing it is because you don’t know if the soap and shampoo they offer will be animal cruelty-free. Different countries have different laws about animal testing and you really can’t be sure what you are going to get with most hotels. So it is a whole lot easier to just pack your own.
Know How to Say “I am a vegan” in the local language
When you’re traveling to another country it is always important to know how to say a few important phrases like, “where is the nearest toilet” or “how do I get to the train station”. But one that doesn’t often get talked about is “I am vegan.” This can be a really important one when you’re trying to find somewhere to eat. Thankfully I know something that can help with that…
Use the V-Cards App
If you have an iPhone then you have access to the V-Cards app (#notasponsor). V-Cards will help you say you’re vegan and order vegan food in over 100 different languages. This fantastic lightweight app is easy to use and if you know you’re going to be somewhere without internet or electricity you can also print out a PDF of all the important phrases they have on file. Sadly, V-Cards is only available on iOS and it is has been out for 12 years at this point, so it seems unlikely it will be getting an android release. For this reason, I can’t speak to how well it works or not, but I’ve seen people give glowing reviews, so I have to assume it’s pretty good.
Bring Your Own Snacks
Unless you get really lucky chances are you’re going to have to do some hunting around to find vegan food, and this includes snacks. For that reason, I recommend you bring your own. You don’t need to pack all your snacks for your entire trip if you don’t want to. But have at least one or two snacks with you so if you start feeling hungry but can’t find anywhere to eat you at least have something to hold you over for a little while.
Don’t Forget Your Vegan Supplements!
Another huge mistake I’ve seen is forgetting to bring your vegan supplements with you. Unless you’re traveling to a big city there really is no guarantee that you will be able to find the supplements you need to take. Now, is it the end of the world if you go without them for a few days while you’re on vacation? No. But if you’re going to be gone for a week or more then it can start seriously impacting your health. There’s a reason you take those supplements, so make sure you bring them!