When you think of European food, the “classics” that come to mind tend to be meat or dairy-based – pizza, gelato, fondue, Pastel de Nata, gyros – need we say more? But more and more travelers are seeking vegan holiday options in Europe, so our friends at Contiki, the original travel company offering epic adventures for 18-35-year-olds, are sharing their top tips and tricks for traveling Europe on a vegan diet.
Top Travel Tips for a Vegan Holiday in Europe
Ok, so we know we’re stating the obvious but researching a destination before you go can truly make all the difference. While there are tons of online resources, you can also find heaps of helpful hints using social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. Searching things like “Vegan Travel [insert your destination]” or hashtags including #VeganTravel can drum up some insider secrets, and even better – you know they have already been vetted by fellow vegans!
2. Learn key phrases and words to communicate you’re vegan or vegetarian
One of the most important things you can do before you travel, besides panic packing, of course, is to learn local key phrases so you’re able to tell others in-destination about your dietary restrictions. Obviously, nobody expects you to become multi-lingual overnight, but the locals will appreciate your efforts and it will make for a more seamless vegan holiday in Europe.
If you’re worried you may forget or get confused, some failproof things you can do are:
- Save key phrases and words in a notes app on your phone
- Use apps like Vegan Passport
- Bring along allergy translation cards.
Pro tip: Bring multiple copies of your allergy translation cards so you can give them to restaurant staff for extra confidence.Nadine Sykora, YouTuber and vegan traveler
3. Search for health food stores in your destination
Knowing where to find local health food stores or even local markets is extremely helpful, whether you need to pick up some fresh fruits or are looking for some plant-based snacks. It’s especially helpful to do this ahead of your trip so you can feel confident upon arrival of your options in the area.
Apps like Google Maps or HERE WeGo (which allows you to download offline maps for navigation when you don’t have access to data or wifi) are handy tools for helping you hunt down these stores.
4. Learn local ingredients
This goes hand-in-hand with the above since it’s likely the health food stores won’t have English translations. It’s always a good idea to learn the names of some key local vegan-friendly foods. It wouldn’t be much help to arrive at the health food shop, only to have no idea how to ask for what you’re looking for!
5. Carefully select accommodation
If you can, try to select accommodation equipped with a kitchen or a mini-fridge to keep the aforementioned local ingredients fresh throughout your stay. Many hotels offer apartment-style rooms and of course, there’s always the option of booking a unique place to stay in Europe with Airbnb.
6. Pack healthy snacks
Depending on the length of your trip – and the size of your suitcase – this one may be easier said than done, but using professional packing apps like Contiki: Pack My Bags can help ensure you don’t overpack and have plenty of space for some extra goodies.
Bringing along granola bars, trail mix or your personal favorite plant-based hunger fix can go a long way in avoiding hanger when on the move.
7. Make vegan easy for street vendors
Europe is full of great markets and street foods – i.e., La Boqueria, Barcelona or Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris – and bringing along mini sizes of your favorite vegan condiments will make it easier for you and the vendors.
If you have a favorite vegan-certified soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ranch or any other beloved condiment that isn’t typically vegan, it will safeguard you from missing out on enjoying it while away, and help you avoid any miscommunication with a vendor if there’s a language barrier. Win-win!
8. Notify your accommodation
If you opt for a hotel instead of a homestay, there’s often a restaurant or place to get food on-site, so notifying them in advance may ease your stay and they can advise in advance if they have vegan options available.
Bonus: the concierge or receptionists often know the city like the back of their hand so they will be able to provide recommendations for you upon arrival.
9. Eat with locals
EatWith pairs you with locals for whatever foodie experience you’re looking for, from food tours to dining experiences and even cooking classes, all tailored to your tastes!
This is a great way to connect with local vegans, learn about their culture, and have an authentic dining experience, without worrying about finding something plant-based to eat.
10. Pack vegan-friendly cosmetics
Vegan-friendly cosmetics aren’t always the easiest to find, especially when in foreign lands. Before you cross the pond, make sure you have enough cosmetics packed to last you the trip.
Alternatively, if you’re going on a long-haul trip or packing only a carry-on and can’t exceed the liquid restrictions, do some research in advance on European alternatives to your go-to products and where to find them.
11. Travel with a group of like-minded plant-based foodies
With veganism becoming mainstream, travel companies are recognizing the increased need for plant-based experiences. You could definitely plan your own epic adventure with all of the above helpful hints, but if you’re strapped for time or simply would prefer to leave the travel planning to the pros, joining a trip like the ultimate Vegan Food Europe Explorer will save you the stress.
Follow these 11 travel tips and make the most of your vegan holiday in Europe!