Hi, I’m Joi and I’m a vegan that is often speeding down the runway… unless I’m in homebody mode (which is often). That’s me. A girl of extremes. Jet-setting or relishing Hermitsville.
I’m sort of wallowing in Hermitsville as we speak (I haven’t traveled in a month!), trying to be healthy because I’ll soon be eating my way through NYC and San Francisco, but getting back to the point of this post, traveling vegans need to do a fair amount of thinking ahead if you absolutely love food and want to do it right (spoiler alert: I don’t always do it right). By “doing it right,” I mean not only stave off hunger, but indulge in mind-blowing options that you’re not going to get at home.
Without further ado, my best tips for travel, along with some food porn from recent travels, because what’s a food-focused post without food porn?!
First rule of Vegan Traveling: Be Prepared!
I like to pretend that I’m always the savvy vegan traveler. The girl with a snazzy picnic basket full of healthy and delicious vegan delicacies to snack on when on a trip. The girl with the printed out itinerary of where I’m going to go for a jaw-dropping progressive dinner in a noted vegan-friendly city.
In reality, I’ve been known to not prepare, and there I am, traipsing around the airport in my inappropriate-for-traveling platform heels, hating myself as I scarf down a small can of Pringles because I had no time to eat all day, counting down the hours till I land because I figure surely some phenomenal vegan restaurant will be open and serving… and inevitably, there’s a delay and I land after everything closes, so I’m regulated to boring veganized versions of whatever is on the room service menu. Regrets, I have a few. It doesn’t have to be that way! It shouldn’t be that way.
Pro Tip: Pack your carry-on with healthy snacks (and maybe one not so healthy snack) with enough to keep you satisfied in case of inevitable delays.
Some of my favorites that travel well (ie, do not have a strong smell or make a ton of mess around you):
–Louisville Vegan Jerky (Pete’s Smoked Black Pepper) I have a problem. One I open up the pouch, I cannot stop eating this stuff. I don’t like fake meats usually! But there’s something about the seasoning and chewy texture that is irresistible. I buy them in bulk online because at about 7 bucks a pop at Whole Foods, this is a very expensive addiction. But I promise you, it’s worth it. Plus, look at all that protein (bonus: show off to all those people who ask you where you get your protein)!
–Go Raw Pumpkin Seeds I don’t know how they get these to taste so good, but damn! I prefer seeds with shells (you eat less of them and there’s something strangely soothing about popping a shelled seed in your mouth and taking out the seed with your teeth). Too messy for travel, however, so these raw shelled seeds do the trick and have the perfect amount of salt. Make sure to consume them with a bottle or two of water.
Although I don’t love eating sweets when seriously trying to stave off hunger, I’ll sometimes eat a Luna Bar or Complete Cookie, but you can’t go wrong with packing your bag with some dates if you know you need some sweet stuff (or want to avoid salt because you get dehydrated when flying). Or better yet…
Favorite treat: single serve packets of Justin’s Hazelnut Chocolate Butter. People. You will never ever crave Nutella again. Perfect to dip into this if the plane is experiencing mad turbulence and you’re like fuckit, I’m gonna die anyway. I might as well eat 5 of these things…
Pro-tip: you hear your plane is delayed, so you’ll be landing at the 10pm magic hour when restaurants are closed. Do a search on Yelp for late night vegan food. Make your plans now and you won’t feel so full of despair. If you’re lucky enough to have a city like Denver as your final destination, you will be pleasantly surprised (City O’ City might be my favorite vegan restaurant in the world due to its life-saving late night menu and ultra cool vibes). You’ll never suffer through overpriced lame plain pasta from room service again.
Second Rule Of Vegan Traveling: Embrace Your Destination!
Research and planning for what you’re going to eat once you’re at your destination is part of the fun (why don’t I do it more?). Thank goodness for the Happy Cow & Yelp (link to my vegan collections!) apps.
Pro Tip: Make a list of must-visits! Especially if you’re visiting one of the aforementioned vegan destination spots (BTW did you know that Rome has a vegan grocery store with an entire vegan cheese section? Be still my heart!)
Try to find veganized versions of local specialties (hot chicken in Nashville, beignets in NOLA, poutine in Montreal…)
My friend who is a local, took me to a lovely brand new vegan restaurant, Invitation V! I try to make it a point to always support new vegan establishments.
But what if you’re going to a place where your options are limited? I know your pain. I’ve done road trips through vegan food desserts like Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri.
Third Rule Of Vegan Traveling: Heaven help you, but sometimes you just gotta know your chains! Especially if driving long distances in the middle of nowhere is in your plans. But hey, did you know TGI Fridays has the Beyond Burger? Not a bad option.
It bears mentioning again, you’ll want to prepare for these trying times. Pack a way bigger travel bag (I’ll do an entire post on this!) and plan to get fresh fruit and veggies along the way. Silver lining: Farm stands may even be in your future!
I could probably write an entire book about my vegan travels (I’d need to feature the dark days of road trips in the 90s of course so that people can see how easy it is to be vegan nowadays). Feel free to share your vegan travel tips in the comments!