Veteran traveler Rebecca Gade Sawicki is the founder of vegan travel planning blog Veggies Abroad. She shares her expert tips on how to plan the perfect vegan holiday itinerary.
“What in the world did you eat?”
“Did you bring all of your own food?”
“Were you always hungry?”
Those were only a few of the many questions I used to get asked when people would find out that a
long-time vegan was leaving the comforts of home to explore the world. For a long time, traveling as a
vegan wasn’t the culinary affair it is today. The thought of finding delicate crepes filled with mouth-
puckering lemon curd or anything covered in creamy cheese was out of the question.
Luckily, times have changed.
In some cities, veganism is ubiquitous; in others, well, let’s say it requires a bit more effort, and that’s
where I thrive. As an avid vegan traveler, blogger, and advisor, I’m a bit monomaniacal about finding all
the best vegan things, from over-the-top desserts to feather-free pillows where I can rest my head and
everything in between. So, if you haven’t mastered the art of vegan vacay planning, I’ll let you in on my
secrets — here’s how I plan the most epic vegan adventures that will make even meat-eaters jealous.
How to Plan a Perfect Vegan Holiday Itinerary
1) Head to Google first
So you’ve found an airfare deal, or you’re finally taking the leap and heading to your dream destination;
now what? Fire up Google and start searching!
I will spend at least a few hours looking for restaurants, shops, and markets — I consider those my
vegan big three. From there, I’ll investigate if the destination is well-known for specific food or drinks —
more often than not, you can find vegan versions of those famous culinary pursuits. For instance, if
you’re heading to Portland, get ready for a vegan donut sugar high, or in Paris, you’ll be able to eat your
body weight in buttery golden vegan pastries (I wouldn’t recommend it, but you could)!
If you were worried about missing out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that more likely than not,
you’ll find plenty of things to savor.
2) Vegan & eco-friendly accommodations exist
You don’t have to settle for a hotel whose only vegan option is a banana! Around the world, you’ll find
vegan and eco-friendly accommodations, along with fully vegan B&Bs and hotels — how amazing would
it be to wake up to a vegan breakfast feast?
Even if you can’t find a fully vegan spot, finding one conscious of having plant-based options on its
menus and taking steps to support Mother Nature is a great place to go! You can usually find options by
looking through a hotel’s website, but if you’re not finding anything, send them a note and ask. If they
hear from visitors that options affect their choice to stay, it incentivizes them to change — after all,
many companies aren’t going to make these changes unless they know there is consumer demand.
3) Lookout for ethical & cruelty-free tours or activities
From vegan street food tours in Italy to ethical wildlife viewing, plenty of options exist to explore the
Vegan food tours are a little easier to find in larger cities (sometimes regular tours will have vegan
options, just read the fine print), but if you cannot find one, make your own! Remember all that
Googling we did? Use that to plan out your own mini food tour — you can go at your own pace and
check out other sights along the way.
When it comes to wildlife, this can get tricky, as it’s not always clear if the company is acting in the
animals’ best interest. A few red flags include experiences where you can hold the animal (think baby
tigers), baiting fish or sharks while snorkeling, animal riding, or anything that provides a 100% guarantee
that you will see a specific animal. It’s critical to choose companies and tour operators that prioritize the
animal’s welfare and the animal can remain in its natural habit, undisturbed by humans.
When searching for activities, look for ones in partnership with major conservation organizations, also
sanctuaries can be a good option — but not all sanctuaries are created equal. Make sure you check
them out before you go (look for those red flags here too). If you’re ever in doubt, trust your gut.
4) Be chatty!
Don’t be shy when you’re checking out vegan shops and restaurants; talk to locals! These folks can be
your best vegan travel guides and share info you might not find on Google, like new restaurant openings
or spots that aren’t worth a visit. Based on the recommendations of locals, I’ve adjusted countless
itineraries, and it’s always been worth it!
5) Make Google Maps your travel buddy
Now that you have a laundry list of things you want to eat, see, and do, you need to turn to Google
Maps to keep it all organized. I pin all of the restaurants, bakeries, ice cream spots, stores, etc., on
Google Maps to help plan my daily itinerary, and it’s also helpful if you get hungry while you’re out and
about — you can just open up the map and see what’s near you!
Make sure to download the map while you’re on wifi, in case your cell service isn’t great.
6) Ask for expert help when you get stuck or don’t have the time
Travel planning isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it can be a lot of work, especially if you want to create
a unique experience; in that case, turn to a vegan travel planning expert, me! Whether you want to
book a short vegan-friendly getaway in the UK or marvel at elephants on a carbon-neutral safari, I can
Travel can enlighten our perspective, and it can support local communities and businesses that are
working to protect our environment. As an advisor, it is my goal to use travel as a tool for good. Let me
plan your dream getaway (and no, you don’t have to be vegan)!
Learn more at Veggies Abroad.