Vegan hotel tips & how to eat vegan while traveling: Whether you are traveling for work, road tripping across country, or just staying for a night. How to eat plant-based at hotels, bed and breakfasts, and more.
Breakfast, lunch & dinner ideas to keep you full while on the road (including a bed picnic!)
The best part of travel is the food.
I always look forward to the vegan restaurants I’m going to visit, and finding plant-based gems even in unlikely places.
But when you’re going somewhere for work or traveling through small towns, sometimes vegan options can be on the slim side.
That’s why it’s good to prepare for all contingencies.
With some vegan hotel tips and well-planned snacks, you’ll know that a plant-based breakfast is waiting for you in the morning.
Make a grocery store run
Whenever we’re traveling, the first stop is always the local grocery store.
If they have a natural grocery store like a co-op, Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods, the options are going to be better.
(Here are some of my favorite Trader Joe’s vegan products.)
However, even if you only have a Target or Walmart, it can be done.
Stock your hotel fridge
Breakfasts & on-the-fly meals are a lot easier when you’ve stocked your hotel fridge.
Here are some of my favorite easy travel options.
There are all kinds of shelf-stable oatmeal options. Some are packaged in little bowls for serving, and some come in packets.
The packets are easier to throw into your carry-on if you won’t have time to stop at a grocery store at your destination.
But the ones that come in bowls are awfully convenient. It means you won’t have to run down to the hotel’s breakfast area to grab a bowl.
If you have a refrigerator, containers of non-dairy yogurt are an easy breakfast or snack.
Bagel or toast
Bread or bagels in the room makes for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
While most rooms don’t come with a toaster, there’s usually one in the hotel breakfast area that’s available for hotel guests.
Depending on your time and space constraints, you can pair it with individual packets of shelf stable nut butter or hummus.
Or natural grocery stores usually have freshly ground nut butter for sale by weight near the bulk bins. That way you can just get the amount you’ll need for the trip and not have to commit to a whole jar.
Hummus can also be found in shelf stable packets. Or you can get a tub for easy snacking or spreading.
Luckily, these days hummus can be found in almost every grocery store.
And of course, bagels are best with non-dairy cream cheese.
There are so many vegan cream cheeses on the market. Miyoko’s is my favorite. But Kite Hill, Go Veggie, and Trader Joe’s non-dairy cream cheese are also good.
Cold cereal & non-dairy milk
I have a friend who happily eats cereal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. So this can really be an anytime meal.
Pick up your favorite dry cereal or granola and just add non-dairy milk.
If you don’t have time to go to the grocery store in your work trip destination, I have actually packed shelf stable packs of non-dairy milk in my checked luggage.
It can feel like a bit of a risk with your clothes, but I have gotten through okay.
Several brands make small, lunch-sized boxes of non-dairy milk. Then if you don’t have a refrigerator, you can just use each one singly on cold cereal or granola in the morning.
Of course, if you have time to run to a grocery store for non-dairy milk, that’s better. You can find non-dairy milk all over the place now – even places like Target and Walmart.
Baked tofu in vacuum-sealed packages
I count on baked tofu slabs as a really substantive and filling option.
They are good for breakfast, as a sandwich filling, as an addition to a bed picnic (more on that in a bit), or as a quick snack that will keep me going until mealtime.
They’re also great to throw in the cooler on road trips or for taking food on a plane.
You can find them at almost any natural food store. Trader Joe’s sells their own label of them, and so does Wildwood.
Stock up at the deli
When I make my natural grocery store run, the deli usually offers a wealth of vegan options.
I especially like substantive salads like wheat berry-based salads, bean salads, tofu salads, or kale salads with chickpeas.
Since those are protein-rich options, they keep me full for a lot longer than a salad that’s exclusively vegetable-based.
You can get individual containers for the amount of days you’ll need them, and then throw one into your work bag each day.
While you’re there, see if any of the daily soups in the deli are vegan.
Hit the salad bar
Many grocery stores also have salad bars.
Obviously you can make a salad. Or you can pick up slices of raw vegetables to eat as a snack on their own, with hummus for dipping, or as a sandwich topper.
Also, check out the pre-made salads for vegan options.
Make a sandwich
Grab some vegan deli slices and make a sandwich with the aforementioned bread.
While you’re at the grocery store, pick up some packets of mustard by the napkins and silverware.
Hummus or nut butter also works as a sandwich topper.
Shelf stable meals
If you won’t have a refrigerator in the room, check out some of the shelf stable meals sold in the center aisles of grocery stores.
I’ve seen a lot of people take metallic packets of Indian curry on camping trips. And that would work well in this scenario too.
They come in microwavable pouches that you can just heat and eat.
Dry or canned soup
Canned soup with pull tabs are an option (so that you don’t have to be that person packing a can opener).
Even easier, McDougall’s makes vegan dry soup mixes. You just have to add water.
Don’t forget the snacks!
Finally, no long work day is complete without snacks. Think trail mix, fruit, chips, or nuts.
Have a bed picnic
I never feel sad about a bed picnic. It’s basically the hotel version of a grazing board.
Here’s how to do the bed picnic like a pro.
Pick any or all of the following:
- Tofu slabs
- Vegetable slices from the grocery store salad bar
- Pre-made deli salads
- Vegan deli slices
- Vegan cheese
- Vegan queso for in-room nachos
- Tortilla chips
- Olives (jarred or from the grocery store olive bar)
- Dolmas (canned or from the deli)
- Pickles (jarred or from the salad bar)
Many hotels offer continental breakfasts with your stay.
Most of the time I don’t even bother going down to see what’s there, because the spread tends to be underwhelming for vegans.
However, there have been some pleasant surprises on the times I’ve ventured out.
Most offerings include bananas, apples, and oranges.
Some chains have roasted potatoes.
Potatoes are pretty substantive on their own. And if you have anything in the room to add with them, it can become a pretty decent breakfast.
Hotel restaurants & room service
Things are moving fast in the vegan world. As fast food places are adding vegan options by the day, more hotels are also getting the message that guests would like vegan options.
Courtyard Marriott has added Beyond Meat to their Bistro menus. They’re offering a burger & flatbread pizza. However, neither of the options are vegan by default.
The burger at Courtyard Marriott is served on a brioche bun, which isn’t vegan. And the pizza is served with cheese.
Ask the staff about ways they may be able to veganize these options at their location. It would be awesome if a vegan bun was standard.
Many hotel restaurants have salad or pizza as an option.
So salad with balsamic dressing or pizza without cheese and with plenty of vegetables can be a decent default option.
Depending on the chain, room service is not always an option. Even if they offer it, the price and selection may be less than inspiring.
However, I have cobbled together meals from room service in the past.
One time I ordered an omelet without the eggs. On the menu the omelet came with potatoes, onions, garlic, spinach, and bell peppers.
I simply asked for all of those fillings sautéed in oil and not butter. Plus a fruit bowl, toast, and jelly.
It wasn’t the best breakfast of my life, but I’ve had worse.
Hotel lobby Starbucks
If you stay at a hotel that has an actual Starbucks location in the lobby, then you’ll know that there will be non-dairy milk & a vegan breakfast option as well.
(Some hotels make their coffee using Starbucks beans, but that isn’t the same thing. Only actual locations will have food options and consistently offer non-dairy milk.)
I like to start my day with a soy latte, and oatmeal with blueberries.
Oatmeal is filling. And it’s nice to have a hot breakfast option in cold weather months.
Bed & breakfast vegan options
For a non-hotel option, bed and breakfasts can be a good choice.
Even if a B&B isn’t strictly vegan, they can often prepare a vegan breakfast. I’ve had great luck emailing B&B managers ahead of time (before booking) to see if it’s an option.
If a bed & breakfast is unfamiliar with how to make vegan breakfasts, it doesn’t hurt to email some links to recipes.
(Here’s my breakfast recipe index. It should give you some ideas!)
The convenience of AirBNB
Of course, if you rent your own apartment or house with kitchen, you can stock it yourself with the vegan essentials.
(Non-dairy milk for morning coffee is a must!)
Some hosts are even willing to grab a few essentials for you before you arrive.
At a stay in Orlando, our host happened to follow a plant-based diet too. She left several vegan snacks for us in the room.
And at a stay in Milwaukee, our vegan AirBNB owners gave us a lengthy rundown of restaurants we needed to visit.
I like to check Happy Cow before booking in an area to see what locations will have the closest proximity to vegan restaurants and natural grocery stores. Then I’ll save on gas or ride share costs if I can easily walk to the vegan restaurants I want to visit.
I hope these vegan hotel tips give you a good starting point how to eat vegan while traveling.
More vegan travel
Content updated May 4, 2022. Originally posted August 17, 2016.