If you are vegan or plant based and like to travel like us, then you will need some tips and ideas on how to maintain your lifestyle on your vacation.  Learn what food, snacks, meals, recipes, essentials, and restaurants are safe to bring with you or visit.  There are many destinations that are vegan friendly. #vegantravel #veganrestaurants #plantbased #nutritarian #eattolive #forksoverknives

One of my biggest fears about going plant-based was “What do I do when we go on vacation?!” I was so committed to this new lifestyle, that I didn’t want to become derailed every time we went on a road trip. We like to travel. A lot. So every few months couldn’t be an excuse to lose my way. This is a lifestyle. Not a temporary diet to be ditched the second we go on vacay.

So what to do?

Luckily, the world is changing and finding plant-based or vegan-friendly options is becoming easier. But how do you find those places in unfamiliar territory? This leads me to tip #1.

#1 The HappyCow App

happy cow app to find vegan restaurants on vacation

I was so happy to discover this app and it ABSOLUTELY has come in handy. It’s an app that you can search vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and restaurants that offer vegan & vegetarian options on their menus. You see ratings, read reviews and even leave your own to help others out. It’s not free, I think I paid around $4.99 for it, but it has been worth it! I’ve used it while traveling to find vegan friendly restaurants in strange places and I’ve even used it locally to find new vegan favorites.

If you don’t want to pay for the HappyCow app, you can also check many restaurant’s menus online or on apps like Zomato & OpenTable for free.

#2 RV, 5th wheel, pop-up camper or Motorhome to cook your own plant-based meals

RV for taking a plant-based vacation or road trip

This one may not appeal to everyone, but my husband and I love our RV. We have a class A, which is the larger, bus looking motorhome that comes with a fully equipped kitchen (stove, oven, microwave, sink, & refrigerator), pantry, dining table, bathroom, bedroom, bunkbeds, and living area. And before you say, “I can’t afford that”, you might be surprised. Besides, you don’t have to own one to go this route. There are many companies that you can rent an RV from to give it a try. Start with a smaller Class C if you are nervous about driving a big tank. They are still fully equipped with kitchens, everything is just a little smaller, and they drive more like a U-Haul. If you don’t want to pay to rent one, you might even see if you have a friend that will let you borrow theirs!

Even a simple pop-up camper has a basic kitchen with stove & sink usually. Not sure about a refrigerator on these those. 5th wheels are like a fully equipped RV, but aren’t motorized – you pull them with a heavy duty truck. Hence the name “5th wheel”. These are typically a lot less expensive than a motorized Class A or Class C Motorhome/RV.

We like to travel a lot, so getting of our own made sense to us AND it has made eating plant-based while traveling so much easier. Especially, if we are in the middle of tin-buck-two and there’s nothing but gas station food for miles around. We load up our RV refrigerator and freezer with plant-based favorites from home. I even bring our blender to make morning smoothies and we have a toaster & coffee maker that stays on our RV. It’s like never leaving home!

I usually pre-cook several things & prep all the fruits/veggies ahead of time so that I’m not spending my entire vacation in the kitchen cooking. Our last trip to South Padre Island I did most of the cooking ahead of time.

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Foods I made ahead of time & stocked our RV with

You’ll notice a few things that aren’t 100% whole food plant based like the vegan mac & cheese & vegan chicken nuggets and while the Log Cabin All Natural pancake mix is vegan & has whole grains, it’s not 100% whole grain. These are things that I’ve chosen to use to do the best we can. We are still currently only about 6 months in this change of eating, so I’ve had to make compromises so that my kids don’t completely freak out. You have to do what you can. Making their favorites “veganized” is a huge step in the right direction.

They still eat a lot of whole food plant based recipes I cook at home, but sometimes I’ll make them something that’s vegan, but not completely WFPB, like the vegan Chili Mac or Broccoli Mac. Plus, I let them choose what they want when we eat out. I don’t want this to become a negative, stressful thing for them so that they then hate eating this way and rebel. I want to teach them healthy eating habits and eventually have that be their choice. My husband and I are setting the example and they are following our lead.

#3 Find a hotel room or condo with a kitchen or kitchenette

condo with a kitchen to cook vegan meals

If you are taking a road trip by car or flying, then find hotels or condos that offer a kitchenette so you can still cook some of your own meals. This can be a great way to save money especially if you are going to be staying in a location for a while and would be worth the time to buy groceries and cook some meals.

We’ve done this before when going to Corpus Christi. There are condos right on the beach and they are like little apartments. We load up on groceries from the local HEB and cook most of our meals in our condo! That picture is ACTUALLY what the Port Royal Condos look like in Corpus Christi. They are super nice and come with all the basic cooking utensils & appliances so you only have to buy food!

#4 Bring your own plant based snacks

rhythm superfoods vegan plant-based snacks

You can still bring many snacks on the road and a cooler with freezer packs to keep some things cold while you are traveling. Most any hotel has a refrigerator and/or microwave you can request.

Snacks to bring in the car

#5 Eating Out on the Road – Plant-Based Restaurant Options

vegan fast food restaurant options for vacation

Even with our RV, we still like to experience local cuisine in the areas to go to, but make sure we choose plant-based options. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about ingredients & how food is prepared and request things like oil, cheese, or cream to be left out.

Mexican Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Veggie Fajitas on Corn Tortillas with Guacamole, no cheese or sour cream (ask for steamed or no oil)
  • Veggie Enchiladas with green or red sauce (ask for no cream or cheese)
  • Beans (refried is usually prepared with lard, charro beans usually have bacon, but black beans are usually vegan)
  • Salad with guacamole, salsa, beans (hold the cheese or oily dressing)
  • Rice

Italian Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Spaghetti Marinara – see if they have whole grain pasta option – top with steamed veggies
  • Vegetable Soup like Minestrone
  • Eggplant Parmesan without the Parmesan; whole grain pasta if available
  • Salad with no-oil dressing, lemon wedges, or flavored vinegar
  • Stick to red sauces

Mediterranean Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Hummus & vegetables or pita bread (ask for no oil)
  • Lentil soups
  • Falafel (though it’s usually fried)
  • Baba Ganoush – it’s like a hummus made with eggplant (again ask for no oil if possible)
  • Typically have several vegan and vegetarian options listed that you can adjust as necessary

Steak Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Salad with vinegar, lemon wedges, or salsa (ask for no cheese, croutons, or eggs)
  • Veggie sides – ask for steamed or grilled, not sautéed (ask if green beans or baked beans contain bacon)
  • Baked potato without toppings
  • Sweet potato without toppings

Pizza Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Pizza with vegan cheese or no cheese and all the veggies you want (ask if they have a whole grain or cauliflower crust)

Burger Restaurant Vegan Options –

  • Many places are now offering black bean burgers, veggie patties, Impossible Meat, or Beyond Burgers (check the HappyCow app!)

Fast Food Vegan Options –

Sometimes you just don’t have any good restaurants and you might have to stop at a fast food joint. Here are some options if you are stuck –

  • Subway – salads & veggie subs on whole wheat bread (mustard or vinegar)
  • Taco Bell – Bean Burritos, 7 layer burrito, or Black Bean Burritos (Fresco Style – pico, lettuce, no cheese)
  • McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A – salad no cheese or meat, fat free dressing, fruit cup or apple slices
  • Panda Express – Steamed Veggies & Brown Rice
  • Qdoba or Chipotle – burrito bowl with black beans, brown rice, and all the veggies (Qdoba is now serving Impossible Meat as well)
  • Local Deli – vegetable sandwich on whole grain bread, hold the mayo & fruit cup side

I hope this helps you see all the options you have when traveling. I’m no longer afraid of “falling off the wagon” when we go on vacation. Sometimes you might not have the perfect foods available, like vegan but not whole food plant based, but do the best you can. And if you are really concerned about it, then I really recommend trying out an RV road trip. You can cook 100% of your meals and not have to eat out AT ALL! Plus, it will save you a lot of money on food expenses.

If you have any tips for traveling while plant-based, please comment below!