Guest Post: Hungry Vegan Traveler at the Airport

Amanda Just
(photo by Sonal Creates Photography)
Let’s face it: traveling can really mess up your appetite. This is 
especially true for air travel, where there are more rules to follow. Still, in my experience of schlepping from one airport to another (why are one-way flights so hard to find?!), I’ve picked up a few helpful tips.

Pack what you can. Being a budget traveler myself, I cannot remember the last time I checked a bag. This means my carry-on bag is stuffed and weighs a ton. Still, it’s possible to wedge a few goodies into your 80-pound duffel or your feed bag of a purse. Fresh fruit is great (and allowed!): no packaging, wash it before you leave (if necessary – no need to scrub the bananas), and it’s a no-fuss, whole food. Peanut Butter & Co. and Barney Butter both makes little squeeze packets of nut butters in various flavors, if you want to get fancy. And as always, there’s Larabars to the rescue! (Or whatever your favorite vegan bar may be.)

Bring an empty water bottle. You cannot bring a bottle of water with you through the security check, but you can bring an empty, reusable bottle. After you’ve redressed yourself, put your shoes back on, and collected all of your stuff, stop by the water fountain and fill ‘er up. It’ll save you a few bucks.

Scope out the airport in advance, if you want.  I can’t say I’ve ever done this (I’m just not that organized), but you can look up the food offerings at your airport in advance. This could be helpful if you’re bouncing back and forth between multiple airports or you have a lot of long layovers. Just Google the airport you’ll be stuck at and the food courts should be visible on their website. You may stumble upon some blogs that tell you what’s up at an airport, too. (I’ve been known to blog about such things on Hungry Vegan Traveler.)

Take a walk. This is what I usually end up doing, time permitting. If there’s enough of a gap between my connecting flights, I walk a few laps around the concourse, or walk from one to the next, and maybe even the one after that. It gets the blood flowing and stretches my legs, I get to scope out the food offerings and other little shops, and I usually catch what sets that particular airport apart from the others (the popular row of rocking chairs in Charlotte, NC; the trippy lightshow in Detroit, MI, etc.).

The old reliables. As popular and more widely accepted as veganism has become in the last few years, there will come times when you just can’t find a hot meal in an airport. (Atlanta, I’m looking at you!) If your personal stash of fruit and Larabars are wiped out, you may find yourself in a sorry situation of eating plain potato chips and a bag of nuts. If that won’t cut it for a few hours, there are some things you can find at just about any airport. Smoothies or juices (look for Jamba Juice or Starbucks) and overpriced boring salads (look for a grab-and-go case or one of the fancier, sit-down eateries) are the reliables. Chinese places are hit-or-miss because many of them cook their tofu and veggies in chicken stock, so you’ll have to ask. Same goes for beans and rice at the lone Mexican joint, as they might have lard in the beans. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, though, especially if you’re starving or starting to feel woozy from a blood sugar crash. (I speak from experience here!) And don’t be fearful. I’ve eaten pretty darn well at many an airport, as well. Sushi, taco salads, hummus-and-veggie wraps… You may be surprised! I did a happy dance when I found Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups in NYC. (Not that that’s a healthy meal, but I love all things PB + chocolate.)

Bottom line.  Make like a Girl Scout and BE PREPARED. Pack whatever snacks or little meals you can wedge into your carry-on bags. Don’t forget the empty water bottle (otherwise you’ll be paying $3-4 for Aquafina). Scope out the airport before you leave and/or take a stroll through the concourses while you’re there. Ask questions. And above all: Don’t starve. 

Amanda Just has been blogging over at Hungry Vegan Traveler since 2010. While she has not completed her Round The World trip yet, she enjoys exploring her home state of  Florida, checking out the cheesiest roadside attractions around, and working through her To-Visit and To-Eat lists. When not exploring, she can be found teaching a vegan cooking class, hula hooping in the park, and petting nearby dogs. 

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