There are a couple of holidays coming up – are you thinking of taking a break and going on vacation? You should. You deserve it.
Think of all the spectacular sunsets you’ll get to witness (Photo by Steve Halama)
But if you’re on the fence, what’s stopping you? We often hear the following concerns from other people: “It’s going to be tough to travel as a vegan. What if I can’t find vegan food? What if I make a mistake and accidentally consume animal products? How can I maintain my cruelty-free and zero waste lifestyle? What if the destination I like doesn’t have the things I want and need? What if my fellow travellers aren’t vegan?”
You can opt to go solo, if you like (Photo by Photos by Lanty)
They’re valid, but not unsolvable. How do we know? We have Wendy Werneth as an example.
Wendy describes herself as “an intrepid world traveller, vegan foodie and animal lover” who’s been to over 100 countries (and counting!). She created The Nomadic Vegan as a resource for vegan and cruelty-free travel tips, food and reviews, and as a way to chronicle her journey and other discoveries. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Here's Wendy at the Convent of Beja in Portugal
Through the site, she wants to show both vegans and non-vegans that travelling and eating sustainably is possible. She has five strategies:
1. Keep an open mind
We know you’ve heard this piece of advice before in the blog, but it bears repeating, because it might lead you to new and exciting possibilities. (Surprises too.) Wendy agrees.
“The greatest benefit of travel is the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You’ll come across people whose experiences and world views are very different from yours. Be open to learning from them.”
Welcome their insights (Photo by Vladislav Klapin)
2. Be respectful
“Similarly, when travelling you’ll come across customs and traditions that seem strange to you. Show respect for other people’s traditions and beliefs without compromising your own values.
“If you’re vegan, for example, you don’t need to eat meat that’s offered to you just to be polite. But do show appreciation for the hospitality, and perhaps offer to share your own vegan treats.”
3. Get off the beaten track
“Overtourism is a real problem in many popular destinations. As more and more tourists flock to these destinations, it is becoming unsustainable and unmanageable for the local ecosystems and communities, and is negatively impacting the local people and their environment.
“If you really want to visit an overtouristy place, go there in the off season. Better yet, explore less-visited areas nearby that will actually benefit from your visit.”
It’ll also allow you to spend some “me” time (Photo by Aaron Burden)
4. Be prepared
“Do some research into the local culture and customs before you go. This way, you’ll know how to avoid offending the locals, and you’ll also have a more enriching and fulfilling experience.
“As a vegan traveller, I love researching the local cuisine of my destination to seek out naturally vegan local specialties that are part of that cuisine. As a result, I get to taste local dishes that most tourists know nothing about. My interest in the local food also leads to lots of interesting conversations with local people.”
5. Travel like the locals
“Local transport might not always have the comforts you’re used to, but it’ll be a much more authentic experience than a tour bus or a private car. By travelling on public trains or buses, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with the locals and better understand what their lives are like.
“While travelling in West Africa, I took a bus from Dakar, Senegal to Bamako, Mali. The journey was supposed to take 40-something hours, but after many breakdowns and other mishaps, it took more than 80.
“It was a traumatising ordeal at the time, but it certainly gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of all the difficulties people in the region face on a daily basis. That bus journey is now what I remember the most about that three-month trip to West Africa.”
Sometimes one ride can change your life (Photo by JESHOOTS.COM)
On to the practical stuff
To add to Wendy’s tips, we also know how to make things easy on yourself – and hopefully avoid confusion, agony or decision fatigue – before and during your travels. Here’s how we’ve managed it:
1. Bring your own essentials
Like cutlery, as well as a metal straw and water bottle (we recommend a copper one). Our goal is to steer clear of single-use items like plastic.
But it’s also important to stay hydrated (Photo by bady qb)
3. Reach out to other vegans in the cities you’re visiting
They can tell you where to go (and where not to go), and may even be able to reveal some hidden gems.
You might even meet up (Photo by rawpixel)
4. Download vegan apps
If you haven’t already, Wendy has some suggestions here. They can reveal which foods you can order at which restaurants, share recipes, and help you identify vegan ingredients.
5. Go to the market
Your schedule permitting, you can shop for fresh ingredients and cook your preferred vegan dishes at your accommodations. You can even try creating a meal plan.
6. Reduce clutter
Be it from overpacking, overanalysing, or gathering too much information, you can make better decisions when you keep it simple and organised, and when your mind can “breathe”.
You don’t need a lot (Photo by Lucija Ros)
Just relax, go with the flow, and remember to have fun! There will be some unknowns in every outing, but you’ve done your part. So book that ticket now.