The Daily Beet

16 Nov Surviving the holidays part 2 – travel

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Traveling for the holidays? Before you get on the road, make sure you plan how you will keep it plant-strong!

1. Pack food! We can not stress how important it is to have great food options packed and ready to go for your travels. One of our favorite things that we own is a 3 tier tiffin. These are stainless steel carry containers that are fantastic for holding every thing from a healthy salad to oatmeal or beans and rice. We use our tiffin for every car trip over 3 hours, so that we don’t have to rely on eating out somewhere or gas station food. Some great things to put in your tiffin:

Fat Free hummus

Rice and Beans



Cold macaroni salad

While you are picking up a tiffin, you might want to pick up a set of bamboo utensils.

2. Plan out your trip to include plant-strong  friendly restaurants. Often, we will plan out our route according to Happy Cow. We will check out our route on google maps, and change it around so that our trips become vegan food tours. We have found great places in big and small cities alike. You can even call ahead and ask if you can get a meal with out oil in it!

3. Rent a vacation home instead of staying in a hotel. Check out VRBOAir BNB and Homeaway for some great deals on vacation rentals. This way you get a house with a kitchen and can bring in your own food. Most of the time house rentals are far cheaper than hotel room rates. Another tip on vacation rentals, if you can visit somewhere off season you will save A LOT. If you are willing to be on the beach in the winter you will be paying very little for a great place.

*If you do stay in a hotel, be sure to look for one with a mini kitchen or at the very least a mini fridge.

4. Plan out quick and easy meals from the grocery store.

You can get a bunch of stuff for some good meals:

Here are some basic ingredient ideas:

Bagged dark greens
Chopped veggies
vegetables:  cucumbers, tomato’s, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, celery
Chopped up fruits (or if you can bring a knife, you can cut up fruits/veggies on your own)
*also most stores sell cheap cutting knives.

banana’s, oranges (things you don’t even have to worry about washing)
canned (low sodium) beans (if you can bring a can opener, or buy one there for really cheap at the grocery store)
whole grain bread
balsamic vinegar
fat-free or oil free hummus
A healthy cereal – no sugar added shredded wheat is great, ezekiel cereal, grape nuts, no sugar added corn flakes.
Non dairy unsweetened milk
oil free/low salt woven wheat crisps (the Whole Foods brand is Engine 2 approved)
unsalted  whole grain pretzels
extra firm tofu (not silken)
whole grain bread
whole grain wraps
oil free low salt corn crisps or rice cakes.

Sample meal plan of quick grocery store meals:

Rip’s “Big bowl” is a great and easy meal! Or… cereal with all the fruit you like in it. (and non dairy milk)
or: slice of whole wheat bread with a little nut butter and fruit.

chopped veggies with hummus, pretzels and raisins trail mix. hummus and pita bread

Salad with lots of veggies and a can of beans and balsamic vinegar on top

Sandwich lots of veggies on a sandwich with dark lettuce, and a slice of tofu (if you want) – you can put balsamic vinegar on it, mustard or a fat free vegan mayo.
*soak tofu in balsamic vinegar for tastier tofu.

You can also mash up some beans in a plastic sandwich bag and use it as a spread on a sandwich.

Hummus in a whole grain pita pocket filled with veggies

5. Become a menu expert.

Scan the menu and find the healthier options.
Don’t use the menu as an absolute – more like a guide. So if you see there is a baked potato in one dish you know they have baked potato’s and you can start mixing and matching stuff!

Italian places
: Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and veggies – great dish. Tell them to hold the cheese!

Beans, salsa, veggies, tortillas, rice! If they have brown rice – even better. Be sure to double check every thing, sometimes they will put lard in the beans!

Greek: Hummus, veggies, pita – sometimes they have some decent salads as well. (again be sure to skip the cheese)

: Veggie sushi rolls, again if they have brown rice – even better.

American: Check the menu, look for things like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, steamed veggies (ask them to hold any butter) salads with tons of veggies and a non dairy dressing.

Pizza! Just get it with out cheese but TONS of veggies – get every veggie you can fit on it. Many places have whole grain pizza crust now.

Hotel breakfast bar: Fruit and oatmeal (cooked in water).

“Faster Food”

Baked potato (plain) and side salad – some fast food places.

Pei Wei: There are many animal free dishes at Pei Wei, you can ask for a dish with “tofu and vegetables” instead of the meat option. Best of all? At Pei Wei you can ask that the dish is not cooked in oil, but cooked in vegetable broth – they call it “stock velvet”. This cuts the fat content by about 35%! Also, skip the sauce or put it on the side.

Gas stations:
Most have fruit now!

6. Stay hydrated!
Often when people travel they do not drink enough water. Fill your water bottles and be sure to drink water throughout your trip.

7. Airline travel:
Aside from liquids you can bring any food on a plane. Cereal in little bags, wraps, salads, sandwiches – anything you like. If you are traveling with the family, be sure there are plenty of healthy snacks to bring along as well.

8. Staying with family:
Hopefully your family is thrilled about your plant-strong lifestyle! If you won’t have a car, ask someone ahead of time if they can take you to the grocery store to stock up on some plant-strong food.

If your family is not thrilled with your plant-strong life – simply tell them that you have some really crazy food restrictions right now, and you don’t want to complicate their wonderful preparations, so you just need to pick up a few things at the grocery store. For more tips on how to handle family, check out part 1 of surviving the holidays.

9. Smartphone apps: There are a few smart phone apps to make your travel easier:
Veggie Passport
Vegan Recipe Finder
Vegan Steven
Trip Advisor
Whole Foods

10. MOVE! Get out of the car and walk/jump around a little bit. Go for a morning jog while you are visiting relatives. Don’t sit at the airport, walk around instead (you’ll be sitting on the plane!). Just be sure to move when you can!

As the holiday season approaches, we here at Engine 2 are here for you! Be sure to like us on facebook as well as Rip and the team. If you are stuck or need to vent, or need some advice, get that smart phone out and write to us!

This holiday season remember that you are part of the Engine 2 family!

Safe travels!

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Natala Constantine
  • Laura
    Posted at 13:41h, 16 November

    You guys are the best! Thanks for all the great tips.

  • Marcia
    Posted at 13:41h, 16 November

    I use happycow all the time and on my phone. Thanks for the good tips.

  • Dana
    Posted at 13:53h, 16 November

    Funds are really low for us right now – so I can’t buy your book or much else. But I want to thank you, this blog has been like a book to me, I’ve learned so much from it and the rest of the site, that I’ve been able to make the changes with out buying the book. Just wanted to thank you for all you do.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 13:54h, 16 November

    New iphone apps! I just got an iphone, I’m so excited!

  • Mark
    Posted at 13:55h, 16 November

    I’ve started to take my own vacation for the Holidays , just me and my wife NO family, it was a great decision, no more family gatherings around dead birds for us.

  • Dawn
    Posted at 13:55h, 16 November

    Great advice Engine 2!

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 15:13h, 16 November

    Thanks for some great new ideas! I also have lots of travel tips on my blog, which is plant-strong. http://reciperenovator.com. Just click under “Tips & Techniques” and you’ll see travel tips there.

  • Dawn
    Posted at 11:26h, 17 November

    Thanks for the cool app suggestions! I have been worried about traveling, but this helps a lot.

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