Normally as a vegetarian/vegan, I’ll do a lot of research before a trip to find out what are going to be the best options of eating local vegetarian food at that destination. However there are times when I just want to take a last minute trip and not do all that trip preparation. I’ve found that the more I travel, the less enthused I am about doing hours (or days!) of research before getting on the plane. I just want to go!
These are my strategies that I’ve found work for me for always being prepared to travel, even to less vegetarian-friendly destinations.
1. An in-room mini fridge is big plus.
With an in-room mini fridge you can apply strategy #2.
2. A smaller cooler.
Purchase a small cooler that you can take onboard the plane as your “personal item.” Keep a bag of ice in your freezer so you are always good to go when you want to use your mini cooler in a hurry. Due to the no-liquids rule, dump out your ice before you go through security. Take a plastic bag so you can ask at a bar for replacement ice once you’re through security.
You can fill your mini cooler with items like vegan/vegetarian cheese. You can then have options like buying a cheeseless pizza locally and adding some of your own cheese to it, or ditto for cheeseless pasta. Put your cheese in your freezer to get it really cold before you travel with it. You can either freeze it or just leave it in there long enough that it’s really cold when you put it in your cooler.
3. If you’re checking luggage….
It sounds insane, but if you’re checking luggage, consider taking a small electric fry pan (the square ones that you plug into the wall). This will give you the option to cook in your room. You could alternatively take a camping stove if you know you’ll have a balcony that you can cook on. Don’t light up your camping stove indoors folks!
The electric fry pan is heaps less work than a camping stove. You want one with high sides so it will also function as a pot. Obviously this only works if you are going somewhere that uses the same voltage as your home country. If you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to keep two electric fry pans in each of the common voltages.
4. Tetrapak of non-dairy milk.
Keep your pantry stocked with a few tetrapaks of non-dairy milk. Ideally have a plan for how these can go in your luggage without risk of puncture e.g., buy a light weight plastic container to protect them.
5. Pantry supplies.
Since you’ll no doubt find some food you can eat at your destination, you’ll probably just need a few backup meals. I like to take things like:
- Custard powder (for mixing the the non dairy milk and local fruit to make a dessert). It sucks when everyone is having dessert except you! You can also take instant pudding mix and a whisk.
- Quick cook oats and a couple individual sachets of sugar.
- A few tins of beans (go baked beans!)
- Some Indian packet meals (the ones in the foil packs, you can remove the outer cardboard to save room. Use a marker to write what it is on the foil.)
- Anything in a can/packet that will taste good over rice. You can just buy rice from the restaurant where you’re staying.
- A few spices such as chili flakes and garlic powder.
Make sure your keep on hand some snacks that you can eat on the plane and while you’re in transit. I like to make peanut butter sandwiches on frozen wholegrain bread. Make sure you freeze the bread at peak freshness. This way when you’re eating your sammies 8 hours later in dry plane air, they’ll still be fresh. Grapes or snack packs of raisins are good for flights too. I don’t eat crisps very often but I quite like taking crisps or corn chips on flights. If you think you might go on some hikes during your trip then taking a few extra packs of raisins or even some sweets is a good idea.
7. Tea bags!
Don’t forget tea bags / instant coffee etc. You don’t want to be in caffeine withdrawal on your holiday. Try to find a small jug that you can use for boiling water when you travel and you know your room won’t have one. If you’re packing a fry pan, you may as well pack a jug too. Just look for the smallest one you can find!
Although this might sound like a lot of hassle at first glance, it’s REALLY not. Once you get a little bit experienced traveling this way it becomes very easy. It’s mostly a matter of getting to know what you like and what helps you not feel like you’re missing out. For this reason I tend to take items I don’t regularly eat at home. Once you have your routine down you’ll be able to take advantage of any cheap holiday deals you see that are for last minute travel, including packages where your hotel restaurant may be the only place that’s easily accessible for buying food and you may not have the option of easy transportation to local supermarkets etc. Although I mostly like to travel to vegetarian-friendly destinations, being a prepared vegetarian traveler opens up many for options for trying out different travel styles and destinations and gives you maximum flexibility with your travel choices.