Top 20 vegan travel tips
Molly Waring-Moore • November 21, 2018
You’ve got your own area down. You know the restaurants, what to buy from the supermarket and the names of ingredients to avoid. But what about travelling abroad? You’ll eliminate a lot of stress by having a few things prepared.
1 Search Trip Advisor
Once you’re set on your destination, hop on trip advisor and search for vegan options in that area. Not every restaurant will go out of its way to say it has options - they might not even realise, so do a search for ‘vegan’ in the area. This will pull up people’s reviews who might talk about their own vegan experiences.
Note down these restaurants and the areas they’re near and keep on your phone or in your travel documents.
2 Use Happy Cow
Happy Cow is an app you can use to locate vegan and veggie friendly restaurants in the area. Do a quick search to see if you can find anything for the area you’re visiting. Again, take a note.
3 Research travel vlogs
Travel vlogs and blogs are a goldmine of restaurant and eatery advice. If you do a google and YouTube search of the area + “vegan food” / “vegan restaurant” it’ll likely pull up other people’s roundups and tips of the best restaurants to visit.
4 Instagram & Pinterest search
Instagram is a great resource for finding real, live experiences of the places you’re visiting. You can do a simple location search and see where people are going and any hidden gems that you weren’t aware of. It’s also useful to find out the best vegan spots. See if there are local vegan hashtags that others have used.
Even if you only find a few posts, reach out to those people and ask if they have any other recommendations.
Pinterest will make the job even easier as people are writing really helpful resources and sharing them with you. Just search for ‘vegan’ and the location and you’ll find tons of tips.
5 Facebook search
This is often overlooked but most people share their thoughts, questions and advice on Facebook. If you do a search for area + “vegan” you’ll pull up public posts, groups and pages littered with advice and tips from people. You might even see a few random exchanges between people you don’t know so it’s like eavesdropping on other people’s recommendations.
6 Facebook groups
As well as doing a general search, seek out groups and join in advance. There might be specific vegan community groups for that area, which will be made up of people who live there and will have the best advice. They might also have other travellers like you who’ll have specific travel advice. Reach out and explain when you’ll be visiting and ask for the best tips.
If there aren’t specific vegan groups, you may still find local community groups who’ll more than likely be willing to help. Just be polite and respectful and ask if they know of any great restaurants that cater for vegetarians or vegans. You can even ask about the best local grocers and cafes.
7 Ingredient translation
Now you've got an idea of the restaurants you can visit, it’s useful to have a translation of the ingredients you need to avoid. This is both useful for restaurant visits and shopping. Use our guide of common ingredients to look out for and run these through a translator into the local language. Keep note of these along with the restaurant list. It’s helpful to learn how to say some of these in case you need to communicate directly.
Additionally, have a little sentence or paragraph written up in the local language that reads… “I’m looking for a meal that does not contain milk, eggs, meat, fish, butter or cheese.”
“I cannot eat milk, eggs, meat, fish, butter or cheese, could you help?”
If you cannot repeat the sentence, you’ll be able to show them politely on your phone or note.
8 Local product search
If you intend to cook yourself and buy from local shops, it’s a good idea to find the unexpected vegan foods. While fruit and veg are obvious, there might be some staples that you’re not aware of. Get together an idea of the meals you’ll likely be cooking and then do a search for the vegan option of each ingredient in the local area or supermarket, if you know the name.
9 Shop at local markets
The best way to know if something is vegan is to use whole plant foods as ingredients. Search for the locations and times of farmers markets near where you'll be staying and stock up on the staples. You can make whole soups, stews and pasta dishes by using fresh fruit and veg straight from the market.
10 Learn local delicacies
Often, local delicacies are ‘accidentally’ vegan. Do a search of these foods and see if any of them happen to be vegan. When we visited Tokyo, we took a look to see what sushi was already vegan and then knew that we had fallbacks wherever we went.
11 Go veggie and modify
Just like you do everywhere else, you might have to start with veggie options first. While vegetarian is becoming widely known, the word ‘vegan’ sometimes isn’t even understood around the world. Suddenly expecting a restaurant to know what that entails is unfair. If you’re not finding much luck searching ahead for vegan options, search instead for veggie and then ask for the usual modifications.
12 Pack substitutes
Whether you’re going to be eating out and don’t want to ruin the meals, or will be cooking yourself, it’s often helpful to pack your own staple ingredients. Please ensure that they comply with airport and security standards first - which may vary around the world.
Identify foods that are easy to pack, like dressings, dried food mixes (e.g burger mixes), veggie stock, nuts and seeds (again, do a check to make sure these are allowed - you can always buy once you’re there to keep with you) and energy bars. If you’re going to have to remove all dressings in a restaurant, you can at least add your own rather than eating a plain salad.
13 Help out the street vendors
This also makes it helpful for street vendors who don’t even have the option of preparing something especially for you or modifying meals.
14 Use containers
Make sure that the food is packed in super tight containers and then wrap them in a plastic bag again. This is a great tip for any liquid you’re taking as sometimes the containers burst under pressure on the flight and you don’t want that ruining your clothes.
Keep spare containers and bags with you too in case you want to pack your own lunches and snacks for trips in the day. Take a look at our vegan travel snack ideas.
15 Choose accommodation wisely
Accommodation can play a huge role in how easy you find it to stay. It tends to be easier to cook your own meals as you can control what goes into them and more easily use your packed ingredients. Look out for apartments, hostels or Airbnbs with kitchen facilities and get creative.
16 Steal the buffet food
So we’re not saying leave breakfast with the entire tray of fruit, but if you think it might be difficult to find snacks or lunch in the day, take an extra piece of fruit or bread with you. In Berlin, we stayed in a hostel that served the most delicious rye bread at breakfast. So we’d sneak out a few slices that acted as snacks to keep us going when we were out and about. Granted, Berlin is a great place to eat as a vegan!
But be careful, they generally won’t like you doing this so be sneaky and only take a small amount.
17 Always contact ahead
If you’re staying in catered accommodation or booking through a travel agent, make sure they’re aware of your dietary requirements. They’ll either make preparations themselves to accommodate you or at least let you know you’ll have to prepare yourself.
Even if you’ve told a travel agent, make sure you tell any relevant people again as soon as you get there to make sure the message got to them.
18 Book a vegan flight meal
If you’re entitled to food on the plane, make sure to book a vegan meal in advance. Aeroplane food is getting better and so are the dietary considerations. Yes, it’s still plane food and often they might do a terrible job of creating a satisfactory vegan alternative, but it’s better than nothing.
Make sure to double check when you’re checking in for your flight that they have details about your vegan meal.
Remember to pack snacks for the flight for the very likely event that the meal wasn't up to scratch.
19 Pack vegan toiletries
This one gets overlooked but, depending on where you’re travelling to, it can be difficult to find cruelty free and vegan beauty products. Make sure to pack the essentials with you and decant into smaller travel containers if they’re too large.
If you’re going for a long time, do a search of cruelty-free brands ahead of time so you’ll know what to look for when out and about.
20 Take your vitamins
Suddenly adapting to a new environment means you’ll be focusing more on what you can actually eat, rather than how balanced you can make your meals. If you’re prone to low iron, B12 etc then pack these to make sure you’re getting your minimum requirements. It’s not the end of the world if you go a few weeks without, but it might make you feel a whole lot better while you’re there.
We hope these tips help take some of the stress out of your next trip! Have any more tips you think we've missed? Tweet us @daisilyuk