For some, going vegan could be a challenge in itself, let alone traveling vegan abroad. When traveling, vegans would be at the mercy of restaurants and stores, the people who are hosting them, and the locals’ familiarity to veganism (or lack of). But don’t worry, vegan traveling could be fun too! Just follow the advice from someone who has been there (and by there, I mean in all four corners of the world).
Vegan couple, Rika and Doni at Vegan Miam, have traveled, explored, and eaten their way through different parts of the world with a camera in hand. You name it, they’ve been there: New Zealand, Spain, Fiji Islands, the Philippines, Colombia, South Africa, to name a few.
All of their vegan eats, musings, and discoveries could be found on the blog, veganmiam.com. As easy as it is to say that their lifestyle seem all play and no work, it would be a lie. They observe, study, and record every detail. Every review carries useful information, no fluffs. So when I thought of writing about vegan travel tips, I did not hesitate to approach Rika for advice. I’m glad she accommodated my request. Below are her five useful tips.
Top 5 Vegan Travel Tips
by Rika & Doni, at Vegan Miam
1. Research, have a back-up plan, and keep an open eye.
Happy Cow is a great place to start. It’s a good resource for finding vegan food, but we don’t rely on them too heavily since their maps, addresses and hours aren’t always correct. If you’re making plans to visit places you find on Happy Cow, try and double check the information with local vegan/vegetarian forums, directories and blogs. These local resources can then lead you to even more options in your destination. Whenever you go out in search of vegan eats in a new destination it’s also good to have a backup option in mind. Lastly, pay attention to your surroundings and you might be surprised with what you find. We can’t keep track of how many times we’ve discovered a place serendipitously.
2. Pack your own snacks and packaged soups.
We fly a lot and airlines have frequently served us foods that weren’t vegan or forgotten our vegan meals altogether. We learned early on to always be prepared for the worst and pack our own snacks.
Seeds and nuts are a great healthy snack and packaged foods like fig bars or protein bars are convenient, but we often find ourselves craving something warm and savory on a long flight. Since airlines have hot water, we like to bring Dr. McDougall’s noodle, soup or oatmeal cups with us. It’s a very satisfying feeling to have a hot meal of your own choosing. What’s more, if you don’t eat it on the flight you can always have it when you arrive at your destination.
3. Understand the culture of your destination and tell your host in advance about what you can and cannot eat.
It’s important to understand the difference in culture when you travel.
In many cultures it is insulting to refuse or fail to finish the food that a host offers. Being up front and telling people early on, or in advance, that you are vegan is the best approach. We have found that people are surprisingly receptive and often curious about veganism. Let whomever you are meeting aware of what you can and cannot eat. It’s great to give them ideas of the types of things you usually eat so they understand it’s not as restrictive as most people believe. We love having Barnivore as a resource for vegan alcohol because we often meet people for drinks when we travel. Meeting up for smoothies, fresh juices, coffee, beer or cocktails can be less awkward than trying to find a restaurant to accommodate everyone.
4. When eating out, be descriptive of the ingredients you need to omit.
If you are traveling in a country where you do not speak the language, translate the non-vegan ingredients into the language of your destination. Also research the culture and cuisine. The terminology and interpretations of dietary restrictions vary from one country to another. It’s never safe to assume that one knows the term vegan and it only takes a moment to elaborate on the ingredients you need to omit with your server or host. Being descriptive and defining what you are able to eat may occasionally seem condescending but it’s essential that there is a level of understanding. It’s also beneficial to contact restaurants in advance if you are making plans or reservations to dine somewhere specific.
Eating out at a non-vegan restaurant requires a certain level of trust in your server. If you don’t feel like you can trust their understanding of what you can and cannot eat, it is best to err on the safe side and decline ordering anything you are not comfortable with.
5. For inexpensive travel deals, register for a loyalty program or book on Airbnb.
To start with, be sure to register for hotel and airline loyalty programs before traveling. Using points and miles allows us to afford some of our dream trips. To keep up to date on how best to utilize your points and miles we recommend FlyerTalk. It’s the best online travel resource available. Airbnb is great for when you want to slow down and get a sense of how the locals live, it’s also typically cheaper than hotels for longer stays. Having some flexibility when you set out to plan your trip will also help you find more options and better deals.
Rika is the recipe developer and food blogger behind Vegan Miam. She runs a vegan food and travel blog with her photographer and partner Doni. They are based in Oregon, but living elsewhere as often as possible. The term ‘miam’ is just a way of saying yummy in French and represents their desire to discover decadent vegan cuisine and recipes around the world together. Follow Vegan Miam on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Below are more photos from their delicious vegan food trip from around the world:
Thank you so much Rika and Doni for sharing invaluable advice here on the Astig Vegan blog as well on yours. Please keep traveling and sharing amazing discoveries along the way. Your readers and fans shall live vicariously through them. We’re looking forward where you’re off to next. Bon Voyage!