So we are about to go on a vacation. It is a pretty special trip – My ‘other half’ (partner) and I are celebrating 20 yrs together on Boxing Day (26th Dec.) this year. This will also be the first time we have celebrated Christmas in a warm climate. We are going to (drum roll please)….Maui, Hawaii! *drifts off into blissful daydream…*
We have all the usual things sorted so far: Flights booked, condo (VRBO) booked and paid for, car hire reserved (gets busy there, I hear, this time of year). ESTA arranged (we’re Canadian residents), taxi booked. All good. Just need to get some USD and to pack some Summer clothes. We are taking along one or two gifts for our daughter – one is a big one, and kind of relevant – American Girl doll – Nanea – who is Hawaiian (don’t worry, she knows she is getting this!). We’ll somehow attempt to squeeze that one into our luggage I guess. We decided we will re-celebrate Christmas Eve and Day again, a day after we arrive back home in BC… and open any other gifts from family then. We’re certainly NOT taking the garage-size bagful of gifts the Grandparents insist on sending over each year, that’s for sure! 😀
Prepping for Vegan Family Travels:
So… are there any things we consider in our travel arrangements that are impacted by our being vegan? Well, yes: – before we even booked any of the above, we checked out the Hawaiian islands, checked Maui in particular for vegan-friendliness… And by that, I don’t mean whether the locals will smile or scowl at us (!), but rather, if the restaurants are aware of what vegan means, if they have vegan options, if there are any vegan/health food stores to buy groceries, etc. We do this prior to any travel. Figuring out a plan of where to eat and what ahead of time, although it might sound boring, can really save on some stress when you get there… one less thing to think about… especially if you are not there for long…
Tip #1: Research your destination food options
Before we go, and also whilst there, we check out review sites such as Happy Cow – this is a fantastic resource of vegan and vegetarian eateries, with brief reviews and covers most of North America (inc. Canada). They even have an app now, I believe. So we usually check that site out first, and then start googling a little, looking for blogs (such as this one), where vegans share their own experience – this is soooo helpful in determining if visiting there will be a good fit. Now, to be honest, if it was just the other half and myself; we could pretty much visit most places in the world and be happy – as most places will at least have fruit, salad, vegetables, juices, and bread we should be able to eat. However, with a family, it is usually wise, I find, to do the research – happy child = happy holiday!
Tip #2: Check local events/cultural events
Other considerations could be local, cultural events… we initially liked the sound of the traditional luau – the show with the music and dances from different areas… but then we realized part of this was unearthing a cooked pig… I have since seen some reviews about one particular place (I think it was Lele) offering a vegetarian/vegan menu… and where it is table service, rather than a buffet… but I cannot honestly see our daughter enjoying the food…and if we happened to see a cooked pig…. well…I’m pretty sure that would be a serious low-point. So let’s not wreck it, eh…? Plenty of other events to go see, I am sure… and such a magical place…I don’t think we will have trouble finding things to see/watch/visit… and I am suspecting/hoping that Maui is pretty much a musical island anyway.
Tip #3: Rent a suite or a room with a kitchen
We booked a condo via VRBO – as it has a kitchen with oven, fridge, stove, etc. This we find is essential for a stress-free and economic visit! We may wander out a few mornings for breakfast if we find something suitable, but most mornings, we will be able to make our own toast, bagels, brunch, etc. We have booked a place right on the beach, so I am picturing us sitting on the balcony, watching the waves, munching on local fruit, bread, coffee and juice. (Will be sure to do a separate blog post after, to compare reality with the ‘dream’!). 😉 Having a kitchen also means we can make up a picnic on the road to Hana, or off to a distant beach, etc. It just offers a bit more flexibility, and as wonderful as eating out is; it is nice to take a break from the recurring: “Where are we going to go for lunch/dinner today?” now and then. 🙂
We do find that travelling is a great chance to try out new foods…this also goes for our fussy-eater vegan daughter – we actually get her trying new foods – it is quite amazing!
So, I will post our experience once we have been and returned… including restaurant and other local eatery reviews.
Tip #4: Pack your own vegan toiletry/beauty products
We also pack our own vegan hair products and toothpaste – as it can be tricky to find items like these, in less built-up areas.
Tip #5: Book vegan meals in advance
We book vegan meal options in advance for the flights, though to be honest: I don’t put too much faith into possibly finding these meals enjoyable. If there is a bread roll and some fruit juice, at least my daughter and I are fine. My ‘other half’ usually finishes off anything I am not too keen on anyway (he says he needs the calories!). 😉
Tip #6: Airport / train station snacks
And then, finally, other considerations are just things such as preparing snacks for the airport, as well as the usual book/magazine/travel thing to keep us all occupied for those less-than thrilling moments in airports and on the plane/train, etc.
Update (Post-Maui trip): Coming back from Maui (more on that shortly, in another post!), I thought I would add a few things we experienced whilst travelling through the airports: The airport in Victoria BC (from where we began our trip) is not huge, but does have a few shops with snacks (we found veggie sticks – a kind of puffed salty snack) that worked for us and our daughter, as well as nuts for ‘other half’, fresh fruit, etc. and these items certainly helped us get on until our next flight from Vancouver.
We find most airport restaurants are not set up for vegetarians, never mind vegans, as they tend to be heavy on burgers, chicken, etc., so we tend to embark on a bit of a scavenger hunt to see what we can find in places like the general stores for snacks, and we found that places like Starbucks can often save the day too! Coming back from Maui – which is extremely small for an airport, we found that, once through to our gate, we had a few shops with snacks and ended up sitting outside Starbucks – which now has a few vegan options – so we had a small hummus, pita and veggies to share between us, and ‘other half’ found some vegan cheesy chips too, much to his amazement and joy! So with a couple of juices and a coffee for him, we were pretty sorted for food for the time being. Note: Maui airport being so small, there is absolutely ZILCH in the way of shops or even vending machines prior to check in, by the way – so take snacks if waiting for check-in to open for a while!
So there you go… if you are lucky enough to be embarking on travelling shortly – I wish you a wonderful and relaxing time. Mahalo (Getting into the Hawaiian spirit here!) 🙂