Wednesday, July 13, 2011

blasts from the past ::
10 tips for veg travelers

A page from my overburdened passport
I get a surprising amount of e-mail from vegans and vegetarians who admit they're afraid to travel, for fear of consuming something non-veg. As a veg-head who's been to 30+ countries--and counting--I'm here to tell you that you can--and should travel. Your lifestyle choice should open doors, not close them, and infuse the world with positivity. Traveling vegan just takes a little planning and patience.

  • Before you go, visit Happy Cow and compile a list of veg restaurants in your destination.
  • Don't forget to order a vegan meal from the airline a few weeks in advance. As a back-up, you might want to pack your own sandwich or snacks. Airlines are notorious for two things: "running out" (!) of vegan meals and offering vegan [and non-vegan] meals that are inedible, at best.
  • Create a post on your favorite veg forum and ask if any fellow veg-heads have ventured to [insert vacation destination here]. Other vegans can offer valuable words of wisdom, and more importantly, tasty restaurant recommendations. The Post Punk Kitchen and Vegan Freaks are good starting points.
  • Learn how to say basic vegan phrases in the necessary language. When I'm in a Spanish-speaking country, for example, I become "Senora Sin Queso y Sin Crema." "I'm allergic to..." is another useful phrase to learn. Of course, it's better to explain the ethics behind your diet, but this is not always possible in a foreign country, when you don't speak the language.
  • I avoid checking in baggage like the plague. How do I fit all my girl props into those pesky 3-ounce containers in my carry-on? I decant toiletries, like toothpaste, gel and moisturizer, into recycled containers. [As you can see from the photo below, empty Lush moisturizer containers are great for this purpose.] Also pictured is my Lush Karma portable perfume, Lush solid shampoo, which doubles as soap, a Lush body butter, and Occitane Shea Butter.
Decanting can save you big bucks. Trial sizes are ridiculously overpriced.
  • Since you went to all that trouble toting your vegan toiletries halfway across the world, you may as well tell the hotel management why you aren't using their provided, non-vegan shampoo and shower gel.
  • Size does matter. And in this case, smaller is better. Pictured is my mini toothbrush, mini, cruelty-free makeup brushes and mini Thai deodorant stone.
Smaller is better.
  • Don't forget your vitamins. See photo, above.
  • Be mindful of the environment. Reuse hotel towels, when possible. Ask the maid not to change the sheets daily [Who does that in real life, anyway?] Take only digital photos. Recycle. Use vegan, biodegradable sunscreen, especially if you're at a sea- or lake-side destination.
  • When you come back, post about your trip on your blog or Faceboook account, so other veg-heads can benefit from your experience.
Please feel free to post your own vegan traveling tips as comments.

18 comments:

Randy D. said...

Great article! Are you aware of any airlines that still offer vegan meals? Continental was the only one that I knew of who still did it...and even they stopped earlier this year.

Molly G said...

International flights almost always still offer food. Though apparently they do not have to offer special meals. I learned this on my Lacsa flight to Costa Rica. They do not offer any special meals (but feed all of the "regular" people). Bringing your own food guarantees you eat what you like and get some actual nutrients!

Katrina said...

I find bringing my own tea/teabags and tea infuser a great way to save money and drink what I want. (I stole the idea from Colleen Patrick Goudreau at Compassionate Cooks.)

http://www.rei.com/product/794391/rei-vacuum-infuser-mug-15-fl-oz

Whenever I'd ask a place for hot water (or cold) and offered to pay for it, they'd always give it to me free of charge. :) Not spending money to stay hydrated actually saves a lot of money.

Gemma said...

Number 1 tip is to buy a Vegan Passport from the UK Vegan Society. It lists what we can and can't eat in about 80 different languages. It's been so, so valuable on my travels throughout Europe.

http://shop.vegansociety.com/product_info.php?products_id=231&osCsid=knubs3r5n25437jv15vspgip12

Natalie @ Angst Loves Spinach said...

@Dynise - thank you for this timely post! I'm traveling to the West Coast one week from Friday :) Granted, I'm headed to San Fran, so not much to worry about once I get there, but it still helps to get some advice.

@Randy - the best airline food I've ever had, which just happened to also be vegan, was on JetBlue, through United. Southwest doesn't serve full meals, but 75% of their snacks are vegan.

Elaine said...

British Airways offers vegan meals if ordered in advance. They are very accomodating and the food is good.

Tanya said...

Great tips! I just came back from a trip to Europe. I did a pre-trip post and got some good tips. Also went to Happy Cow and other sites to find any and all vegetarian and vegan restaurants. American Airlines did not offer a "vegan" meal, even though they offered it to me on the phone before my trip. It turned out to be vegetarian, with cheese, and yogurt! So make sure you bring your own snacks on board. Some airports also have good places to buy vegan snacks and sandwiches or noodles bowls, etc...that you could bring on board, although it's expensive. I also had to go into Starbucks and buy some soymilk for my flight (past security obviously). Can't have coffee without it :) I had a kitchen for part of my trip, so I did bring a few things like nutritional yeast and some special spices (in case I was somewhere that only offered me a baked potato, or something). Happy travels!

Zo said...

Great tips on travelling! I feel pretty confident travelling veg. I like to look for local dishes that are veg before I go. Great tip about decanting your cosmetics, I always take full sized in checked in luggage, but it does comprimise space. I'm feeling a trip to Muji for pots coming on!x

livinglearningeating said...

Even before I was vegetarian, I've always preferred Veg inflight meals - they're just better! Plus, you get served first (which I love, because otherwise I'm always just sitting there getting hungry!)

Sofa cleaning said...

Your passport looks amazing! It is so cool! I wish mine have all of these stamps!

Sam At H.E.S.H. said...

Great article and helpful tips too! Thanks for sharing them here!:)

Sam [Low Carbon Diet] said...

karma solid perfume is equivalent to a herd of baby unicorns. pure bliss.

anna maria said...

I was not familiar with Lush products, but I'm now very curious. Will have to get some on my next trip back to the States.
I'm living in a small town in southern Italy. Forget vegan, vegetarian alone is really difficult. Almost invariably prepared sandwiches contain some form of ham. In fact it often happens that if you ask if something contains meat, the answer is "no, just a little prosciutto"....
I'm not a vegan, but I just voted for you in the awards, because I like your blog and recipes, although I can't get many of the ingredients in my location. One good thing about being here is that I am eating tons of delicious local fruits and vegetables, not organic though.

anna maria said...

for Randy - Lufthansa offers and incredible selection of different kinds of meals - Indian vegetarian, fruitarian, etc, etc.

anna maria said...

Just found a Lush website for Italy, but as far as I can tell you can get their products online only. No retail stores that I can find.
The website is a bit strange too, no info about the company and the products. Guess I'll wait until my next trip to the US.

Amey said...

What a great post, I think this would be a super awesome panel for the next vida vegan con. I've done a ton of international travel as a vegan too, and its so wonderful. I love your list, and I totally agree with you about lush products and lush tins, and of course about the importance elf blogging about your trip afterward to spread the good word of vegan travel and defeat the fear! Looking forward to meeting you at VVC after so many years of reading your blog!

Irene @ H.E.S.H. said...

Thanks for the tips! I can surely use these info's. Hope to see more of this.

Lisa said...

These are perfect travel tips! Thank you!