As I embark on visiting my grandparents who live in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I decided to ask my Running On Om interviewee community for their tips on traveling on a plant-based diet. Here are twenty tips from the pros!
The tips are organized in order of podcast publication with links to the shows.
1. Susie Stephen, accomplished long-distance runner, yoga teacher, Running After Routledge explorer, and creator of Longrunergy
Look for peel-able fruit and vegetables such as bananas, oranges, and the best travel food of all – avocados! I try to eat things with lots of Vitamin C to boost the immune system – tomatoes are good too but you need to wash them first. If you can find avocados they are full of energy! My final tip – look for oats!
2. Giuliana Hazelwood, yoga teacher, writer, and creator of Lovely Healthy
ALWAYS have something in your bag. And make it something really incredible, like your #1 fave larabar or spicy chili mango from Trader Joe’s. Wahtever it is, make it a real treat so that when you’re stuck with literally zero options wherever you are, the one backup you have in your bag totally makes your day.
3. Julia Lee, yoga teacher, writer, life coach, and Reiki healer
- Be prepared. Do a little bit of research beforehand about the local diet, restaurants, etc. and also bring some portable snacks with you for long layovers and plane rides (e.g. nuts, seeds, snack bars, fruit) where good food is often hard to come by.
- Talk to locals. Often locals have the best scoop on where to dine, and can direct you to hidden gems that aren’t swarmed with tourists. If there’s a yoga studio around, yogis always know the best places to eat.
- Be flexible. Sometimes it isn’t always feasible to find things like the freshest organic salads when you’re travelling, so I find that being really strict about diet can take away from being present and truly enjoying the moment. Especially if there’s a language barrier, it can be difficult to communicate all your dietary needs/restrictions, so a willingness to be flexible might offer a new perspective.
4. Scott Spitz, accomplished runner, writer, and creator of the RunVegan
I rely on the app Happy Cow to give me a quick rundown of vegan-friendly options wherever I’m traveling in the states, but I also plan to rely on buying the basics at a grocery store for personal meal preparation, whether that’s veggies for stir-fry or just a bunch of fruit until I get my bearings. With that said, having a decent knowledge of which ethnic foods (asian, indian, thai, ethiopian, etc.) offer veggie options can be a nice luxury when going out to eat.
Pack as much of your “safety food” as possible in your luggage. For me this usually entails greens powder, superberry powder and protein powder (I use Living Fuel, all are vegetarian). Then I also pack things like raw, organic nuts and seeds; bars of which I approve (must scrutinize ingredients first and I look for products containing 10 or fewer ingredients); supplements including fish oil, Vitamin D, a multi, MAP, and other ones that can “fill the gaps” if the food I’m offered isn’t up to par; my iPhone with the Yelp app to search for health markets and restaurants that will fit my dietary preferences; and also empty water bottle or two to fill in airports and on the go to always stay hydrated vs. spending too much $$$ on plastic bottled water.
6. Mary McManus, author, runner, and spiritual warrior
We’ve discovered a tasty vegan grill or baking dish with zucchini, squash, peppers and onions. Finely slice veggies and season with olive oil, sea salt and paprika. If you grill, we use a veggie tray to place on top of the grate in the grill. If you bake, 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!
7. Briohny Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein, LA-based yoga teaching duo
We always book accommodations as close as possible to a whole foods or local organic market. Also, make sure we have a kitchen when possible so we can cook our own food.
8. Hannah Roberts, experienced ultrarunner and cyclist
If you can carry a camp stove and you have the time, even small grocers carry canned vegetables. Buy from grocers or canned fruits and vegetables at convenience stores and cook your own. Part of traveling is leaving our comfort zones and we have to make concessions by the very nature of leaving home. Be flexible and accepting to opportunities on the road especially if you’re traveling through areas where the only other vegetarians grow up to be beef.
9. Sara Courter, holistic healer, writer, yoga teacher, and creator of Body Karma
Traveling on a plant-based diet takes preparation but can be a wonderful adventure. Pack airplane/roadtrip essentials like plenty of filtered water in a steel canteen, herbal tea bags, homemade travel snacks like energy bites, organic nuts and seeds, apples, cut veggies, muesli or overnight oats and kale chips. I always carry my “911 snack” in my bag, usually a dehydrated, gluten-free, raw, vegan Lydia’s bar, too. You never want to get caught someplace hungry with no healthy options! Lastly is to scout out the area(s) in which you’ll be staying ahead of time. I always google the area, nearby health food store(s) and restaurants and google menus of restaurants in question. The internet can be a wonderful tool, especially in finding suitable places for plant-based adventures. Most importantly, breathe deep and eat mindfully, no matter where you are!
10. Jessica Gumkowski, triathlete, yoga teacher, massage therapist, and creator of YogiTriathlete
To set the tone for a great travel experience make sure to pack plenty of plant powered snacks for the plane. My favorites are high water content fruits and berries like grapes, apples, grapefruit blueberries and raspberries. These fruits will keep you hydrated and are easily digestible. As traveling can be stressful on the mind and body, I also suggest packing chamomile tea bags in your carry-on to help you stay relaxed.
11. Izzy Darby, food blogger, vegan, Russian aficionado, and creator of Veganizzm
Stock up on simple, familiar foods wherever you can find them. In Russia I would buy nuts, dried fruit, rice cakes, and fresh veggies, which were available everywhere. Also, try not to worry about finding stuff that is “perfect” – you’re traveling and if you’re buying non-organic or something that you traditionally might not eat at home it’s a-okay. You’re seeing the world and doing your best!
12. John Lewis, creator of Bad Ass Vegan, fitness trainer, and health enthusiast
Always know where the nearest grocery store is and if it carries organic items. Make sure that you can take your items back to your hotel and make sure if you have a refrigerator to keep items cool or not.
13. Sage Rountree, yoga teacher, runner, triathlete, endurance sports coach, and author
One word: plan! A blurb: nutrient-dense foods like nuts and dried fruits can tide you over until you find fresh fruit and veggies.
14. Dr. Nick Campos, chiropractic physician, spiritual teacher, and author
I always carry nuts when I travel. Nuts are a great source of protein, and so while they may not give you the satisfaction of a full meal, they will power you through any extended time on planes, trains or automobiles. Always keep a bag of nuts in your travel bag.
15. Greg Faxon, consultant, accomplished Spartan Racer, coach, creator of Live Deliberately, and positive psychology enthusiast
Preparation is essential. If you aren’t deliberate upfront about where/when/what you are going to eat, you will pay the price later.
16. Keeley Tillotson, cofounder and coowner of Wild Friends Nut Butter
Bring seasonings and/or spices with you! I like to bring cinnamon with me when I travel to spice up whatever plain oatmeal I can find at the hotel, and quality sea salt for boring salads,etc, if you’re stuck at a less-than-ideal restaurant.
17. Erika Welsh, cofounder and coowner of Wild Friends Nut Butter
Being hungry and not having access to healthy, fresh food while traveling is one of my least favorite feelings! While traveling I always try to keep healthy snacks with me. Some of my favorites include: single serve packets of our Wild Friends peanut, almond or sunflower butters, all-natural fruit leather, trail mix and energy bars with the least amount of ingredients like Larabars or 22 Days Bars.
18. Sage Canaday, professional ultra-trail-mountain runner, filmmaker, coach, and author
Learn some key words in foreign languages that mean “meat” (if traveling internationally) so you know what to avoid on menus. Realize that a lot of countries don’t count seafood as meat. Finally, bring some of your own food if you can (energy bars, snacks etc.) in case you find yourself in a situation where there is nothing vegetarian to eat and you get hungry!
19. Lucy Bartholomew, accomplished Australian ultra-trail runner who is only eighteen
I’m not a vegan nor a vegetarian, but I’d say, not to let it restrict new experiences and to be open to try different things.
20. Matt Frazier, creator of No Meat Athlete, runner, author, and coach
During my book tour (in a car!), Whole Foods was my friend when it came to eating. Whenever I found one, I’d stock up on fruits and vegetables that didn’t need to be refrigerated and a gigantic salad with beans and nut-based dressing that would last me two meals.