Vegan, Vegetarian, Ketogenic, Glutenfree? Tips for Traveling on a Special Diet

It seems like everyone you encounter these days is on a special, and often restrictive, diet. I should know. I’ve spent the past three years traveling with my ultra-strict vegan daughter. My quest for elaborate culinary adventures and fine dining is often overshadowed by her preference for raw food options. When we travel, we often find ourselves wandering the back streets looking for a suitable restaurant.

After many trials, and lots of errors, I’ve finally learned that this is one aspect of travel that you need to deal with up front.

1 – Book a condo or apartment instead of a hotel, giving you access to a kitchen. When trip planning, I head straight to sites like Airbnb that offer more than just a simple hotel room. Or choose a hotel with a kitchenette; personally, I like Marriott Residence Inns because they’re designed for long-term travelers and have stocked kitchens. Over time, I’ve realized that this is also a great way to save a bit of money too. Those boutique hotel breakfasts can cost upward of $30 per person, but having your own kitchen, even if it’s just a microwave and fridge, is a much more budget-friendly way to start your day.


Kitchenette and travel


2 – Pack fast food. I know. Fast food is counterintuitive to a healthy diet but I’m talking about convenience foods. There are some great pre-packaged products like oatmeal that are simple to use on the go. Just add hot water and you’re good to go. Those instant oatmeal cups have become my go-to meal on early morning flights.

3 – Research restaurants ahead of time and download apps. One of our favorites is – Happy Cow which lists nearby vegan and vegetarian restaurant using your GPS. Find me Gluten Free is another that will help you out in a pinch. But there’s no substitute for advance planning.

4 – Be sure to plan ahead for logistical travel and inflight food. There’s nothing worse than sitting on a 12-hour flight only to realize the airline forgot to order your vegan meal or that they ran out of gluten-free entrees. More and more airport restaurants are offering special diet choices but don’t wait until you’re rushing to your gate to find one. On a recent 16-hour flight to Australia, my daughter and I packed grilled veggies and noodles into plastic containers (TSA wasn’t too happy having to sort through our myriad containers) and we were the envy of all the travelers around us.


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