Traveling is an amazing way to create memories with loved ones, experience new places, and interrupt the monotony of daily life that can set in all too easily.
However, it can be challenging to travel as a vegan when you’re not sure what kinds of food options will be available either on your journey or once you arrive at your destination. This can add stress to what should be an exciting time, and may even prevent you from going on a dream trip.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to make traveling as a vegan easier! The following ideas should make it less stressful to be vegan on a trip or vacation.
Note: I am not an affiliate for any products linked below. These are simply suggestions based on products I personally recommend as a dietitian.
1) Pack non-perishable foods
Having plenty of snacks on hand that don’t require refrigeration is essential for any longer-term trips or those where access to refrigeration will likely be limited. This can especially come in handy if you’re:
- Taking a road trip
- Staying in a motel or Airbnb without access to a refrigerator
- Aren’t sure what vegan options will be available in airports or during your flight
- Traveling with a group of people who plan to eat somewhere that doesn’t offer many vegan options
If possible, bring snacks that contain a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, and/or healthy fats. Snacks with two or three of these will be more filling, help keep your energy levels up, and can help fill in nutritional gaps when the only vegan option you can find at a restaurant are fries or a plain salad. Some great vegan snacks for traveling include:
- Mixed nuts
- Roasted chickpeas
- Trail mix or granola bars with dried fruit and nuts, that are preferably lower in added sugars
- Whole grain crackers
- Individual serving bags of popcorn (Example: Skinny Pop Popcorn)
- Individual serving packs of nut or seed butter (Examples: Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs, Sunbutter No Sugar Added Pouches)
- Fresh produce that will stay good at room temperature for a few days, like bananas, apples, oranges, and cherry tomatoes
- Nutrient-dense dry cereal (Examples: Ezekiel Flax & Chia Sprouted Flake Cereal, Kashi Go Original)
- Fruit cups (packed in water or juice, avoid fruit cups packed in syrup)
- Nutrient-dense baked goods, such as these chickpea blondies with healthy fats and plant-based protein from chickpeas and peanut butter
If you can bring a cooler, you’ll have more options. Pack things like:
- Individual hummus cups with whole grain crackers, baby carrots, celery, or snap peas
- PB&J with reduced sugar jam
- Hummus & veggie sandwich or wrap
2) For road trips, look out for chains that offer vegan options
More and more chain and fast food restaurants are beginning to offer vegan options thanks to the growing plant-based movement. Keep an eye out for the following restaurants along many highways:
- Chipotle – offers burritos, bowls, salads, or tacos with beans, tofu-based sofritas, or pea protein-based chorizo with toppings like fajita veggies, salsa, corn salsa, lettuce, and guacamole.
- Starbucks – offers non-dairy milks for beverages and some food items like the Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box, fresh bananas, bagels in Cinnamon Raisin, Plain, and Everything flavors, oatmeal with blueberries, strawberry overnight grains, and other snack-like foods like chips or almonds.
- Taco Bell – yes, Taco Bell offers vegan options! Order a bean burrito and “make it fresco”, which removes the dairy items, or a black bean crunchwrap supreme without sour cream or nacho cheese sauce. You can find all of their vegan options here.
- Dunkin’ Donuts – offers avocado toast, roasted tomato & hummus toast, certain bagels (Plain, Everything, Sesame,Multigrain, Cinnamon Raisin, with option to add avocado spread or peanut butter), English muffin, hash browns, and almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk for beverages.
- Burger King – the Impossible Whopper is vegan when ordered without mayo. Their fries are vegan as well. You may be able to request that they cook your burger separately, otherwise there is the potential for cross-contamination.
- Subway – Veggie Delite sandwich on 9-Grain Wheat or Italian bread
- Panera – order the Baja or Mediterranean bowl without feta or Greek yogurt, 10 vegetable soup, oatmeal with strawberries and pecans, or the Mediterranean veggie sandwich without feta (make sure to ask which breads are vegan – some include the French baguette, ciabatta, country loaf, or sourdough roll).
While some of these options may not be the healthiest choice, it’s important to be flexible while on a trip or vacation. These options can be extremely helpful in preventing you from feeling so stressed about what to eat and can allow you to better enjoy your trip!
3) Look up your options ahead of time
Before going on any trip, try to make a list of activities that you plan on doing either along the way for a road trip or at your destination. Then, search to see which restaurants have vegan options close by and make a list of them.
This will prevent a lot of time being wasted trying to decide where to go at the last minute, and you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you’ll need to bring extra snacks with you or eat beforehand.
If staying in a hotel with room service or an all-inclusive resort, call ahead of time and ask if they offer vegan options. They may be able to share the menus with you, or the chef may be able to plan a custom vegan dish for you.
If flying and your trip includes an in-flight meal, don’t forget to request a vegan one! You may have to call and request this option directly, but many airlines can accommodate this request.
4) Be honest about your food preferences with others
If you’re traveling with friends or family members, be honest when discussing where to eat! Don’t be afraid to say which restaurants you prefer. Odds are that your loved ones will want to accommodate you and make sure that you’ll be able to eat.
In cases where multiple people have a place in mind that they are dying to try which does not have many vegan options, this might be a situation where you would compromise and order a couple vegan sides, while planning to eat a snack before or after.
5) Be flexible!
One thing you can usually count on while traveling is that no matter how well you plan, something unexpected will happen. This may very well happen with vegan food options while traveling.
Your best bet is to plan ahead by researching your options at restaurants, hotels, and airports ahead of time and by bringing nutritious, filling vegan snacks with you that will keep well. Uncertainty around vegan options doesn’t have to prevent you from traveling and having a good time!