7 Tips for Vegan Travel

Vegan travelers have it hard sometimes.  From local customs in off-the-beaten-track places to shortages of nutritious ingredients, sometimes its just hard to eat plant-based when traveling.  But we are here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT!  Here are our 7 TIPS FOR VEGAN TRAVEL to make your plant-based backpacking trip easier in any situation.

7 Tips for Vegan Travel

1 – Research your destination:

Every country is different when it comes to vegan food.  Sometimes the places you think will be the easiest turn out to be very difficult.  It’s always good to know what you are getting into before you hit the ground.

2 – Use sites like Happy Cow:

There are many websites out there that help you to find vegan eating options.  Happy Cow is like “Yelp” for veggies.  Just search your destination and all of your best options will show up at your finger tips.  When you love a place, leave them a review so others can find them enjoy their veggie goodness!

3 – Carry snacks just in case:

Having superfoods and protein powder in your backpack can save you in the clutch.  There’s nothing worse than getting off the bus in the middle of nowhere and noticing the only food option to be mystery meat on a stick.  Packing things like spirulina powder, vegan protein smoothie powders, chia seed, and assorted nuts can get you through to the next bus stop.  Or bring a pre-made superfood powder mix like Organifi for “just add water” energy and nutrients!

4 – Buy food to make yourself:

Many hostels and AirBnBs offer kitchens where you can cook your own food.  If you are traveling long term and want to save money, this is a necessity whether you are vegan or not, especially if you are roaming places like Europe of the States.  In all honesty, parts of Europe (Spain is hard!!!) and middle America are hard places for vegans.  Luckily, the grocery stores are always stocked with fresh produce that you can turn into the vegan feast of your dreams!

5 – Learn the local word for “vegan”:

Sometimes people really want to give you the meat-free food you want, but just can’t understand you.  Learning the word for “vegan” or “vegetarian” can help you to quickly cross this barrier.  In Thailand, where the language is hard, the word for vegan is surprisingly easy.  Just say “jay” after what you order.  For instance if you want vegan pad thai, just say “pad thai jay”.  Just look up the local word wherever you are on Google Translate before you arrive to make everything easier.

6 – Travel to vegan friendly places:

Let’s get real.  Some countries are extremely hard for vegans.  When Carrie was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, the first thing her host family did was kill a chicken in her honor.  She had to make up a story that she was “allergic” to meat and if she ate it she would die.  They took this very seriously and all was well after the chicken incident.  We have run into several other countries where veganism was challenging.  The hardest were Bolivia (where fried chicken is the most widely available food), Cuba (the food was bland and boring, with a lack of fresh produce), and Spain (in Spain some people think ham is just a condiment to put on everything.

On the other hand, some places can be absolute vegan heavens.  Many places in Asia have many Buddhists who avoid meat.  These countries know how to cook a good meat-free curry dish!

7 – Go beyond food:

These days it is possible to use vegan hotels, tour companies, and other services, if you can find them.  There aren’t many websites focused on guiding you to vegan merchants outside of food.  Please let us know if you know of any good sites!!!

7 tips for vegan travel
Ahimsa Vegan Cafe in south Sri Lanka is always a treat!

If you like these 7 tips for vegan travelers, then stay tuned for some more vegan friendly posts from us! Also, don’t forget to check out our Youtube channel for our library of travel videos!

(Cover photo credit to Katie’s Healing Kitchen)

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Hong Kong layover – what to do on a quick trip!

Recently, we planned our way home from Sri Lanka with a Hong Kong layover of 16 hours.  Hong Kong is a great place to spend a day, as they issue a visa-free entry to holders of most passports.  With a clean and highly efficient transit system, you can easily get yourself around the city and back to the airport. 

The immigration entry process was super fast, only taking about 15 minutes.  Comparing that to our several hour wait time to enter mainland China in nearby Gaungzhou, we were quite happy to get an early start to our explorations. 

Here’s the vlog all about our quick Hong Kong adventure!

Our first stop on our Hong Kong layover was the Tian Tan, usually referred to as the Big Buddha.  Normally, you can take a cable car directly to Big Buddha from near the airport, but it was down for maintenance for three days so we had to take a bus.  This was ok though, as it only took around 45 minutes.  To get thier by bus, take the bus from the airport to Tung Chung, then change to the Ngong Ping bus.  It’s not super easy to find this second bus, but after looking around for about five minutes we saw the line of tourists waiting and new we were in the right spot.

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The ride to Tian Tan Big Buddha was really pretty, winding it’s way through the foggy mountains.  The ocean would pop up every now and then, and before we could soak it all in we were at the Big Buddha.

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The Big Buddha is a 34-meter high bronze statue on the top of a 268 step structure.  You have to pay to get inside of the Buddha, but the fee is worth it, especially since you get lunch included.  We opted for the “snack” price and we’re glad we didn’t get the full meal because the snack was a lot of food.  The Buddha was really impressive and we spent about an hour exploring the grounds around it.  The adjacent temples and monastery buildings were very beautiful as well and it was amazing to see the difference in style from temples in other parts of Asia.

big buddha food hong kong
Our “snack”.

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After the Buddha we had to venture back to the metro which passed near the airport.  From there we made a couple stops that were not so interesting before finding our way to Causeway Bay.  This was what we were looking for!

We had the great opportunity to meet up with a friend who we had met many years ago through Couchsurfing.  She was one of our favorite Couchsurfers, so it was a real treat to see her in her home element. 

Reunited with our Couchsurfing friend Pinky!

We got a ferry across to the main land.  This was referred to as “the dark side” because things were cheaper there and it lacked the super extravagance of old Hong Kong.  It was still extremely modern though, and safe at all hours, apparently.  The view from the ferry was something out of a sci-fi film, with buildings reaching the clouds surrounding us 360 degrees.  The lights on the buildings were also impressive, with Christmas already the prominent theme in mid-November. 

hong kong skyline
Make sure you watch our vlog to catch these views on video!

hong kong skyline

We ate at a very busy local spot in a basement that I could never locate again if I tried.  Our friend’s boyfriend joined us to eat, and they enjoyed ordering strange things for me to eat.  Cow fallopian tube, for example.  It was a fantastic meal that we had to eat fast at the end because, even though we had just gotten there, our time in HK was running short.  

Hong Kong food

The city had the rushed New York City-esque thing going on, but without being rude, dirty, or as in-your-face.  We took the bus back to the airport, our friends anxiously hurrying us so we wouldn’t be late.  We really couldn’t have had half as much fun without their help, and it really puts a smile on our face when we get to hang out with such truly friendly people. 

Tired and stuffed with Chinese food, we pushed our way through the security lines into the airport departure area.   We had seen so little in this Hong Kong layover, but it was really as much as we could have done.  It’s nice to hang out in new cities for a day, getting a feel for it just in time to leave.  We always hope that it will make it easier the next time, and sometimes that’s true.  Until next time Hong Kong.  We’ll be back.

Like this story about our Hong Kong layover?  Check out our Youtube channel with tons of cool travel videos!

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Sedona Mystical Tours: A Day in the Vortex

A few weeks ago Zach and I set out to do what I like to call a “location redemption.”  That’s when we go somewhere that we’ve been before, back in our drinking and partying days, and experience the place again through our now-sober selves.  If you’re not in recovery it might be hard to understand, but I really love going back to some of the places where I partied particularly hard and made some not-great memories and “redeem” them by having a more conscious, mindful experience as a sober traveler.

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Sedona is a famous “new age” destination due to its vortexes.  Crystal shops and psychic readers profiting from the tourists abound.  We sought out the real thing.

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Zach receiving some singing bowl sound healing during our Sedona Mystical Tour.

Sedona was high on my list for a location redemption.  I’d been there so many times, but I’d never really looked into the vortex phenomenon or any of the many spiritual aspects of Sedona.  Enter Mark Griffon of Sedona Mystical Tours.  I found Mark’s tour company online and knew immediately that having him guide us through Sedona would be the perfect way to finally experience the sacredness of the red rocks.  And I was totally right.  Mark’s expertise and gentle nature make him a perfect guide for seekers in Sedona.  Mark took us off-the-beaten-track to some locations where we were the only people there, even during the crazy tourist season!  Here’s the video we made of our Sedona Mystical Tour experience.

As you can see in the video, we had a truly remarkable experience in Sedona this time.  We had started the day feeling stressed and anxious due to outside factors, but after a short while of hiking and feeling the vibration of the land with Mark, we both felt cool, calm and heavily meditated!  It was wonderful.

Sedona Mystical Tours
The epic view from Mark’s backyard, where we started out tour.

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Feeling the energy of the vortex trees.

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Sage ritual

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As we were posing for our last picture of the trip, this magical light beam came out of the clouds to bless us.

This post will the first in our series on vortexes and spiritual places in the USA!  Next on our list to visit and film are both the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California, and the other Mystery Spot in the Upper Penninsula, Michigan!  Where else should we go?  Leave your recommendations in the comments!

 

 

 

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8 ways to reduce plastic consumption while traveling and SAVE $$$!!!

how to reduce plastic consumption while traveling - sustainable tourism
Reusable bamboo dishes and toothbrush from Green Choice Sri Lanka

With international tourism becoming accessible and popular with more and more people across the globe, it is important for travelers to  not leave trails of trash in their wakes.  One of the easiest ways to be a more sustainable traveler is by decreasing your plastic consumption along your journey.  This may seem challenging at first, but time and practice will make it feel easy and natural.  The single greatest thing you can do is change your own habits, simultaneously influencing those around you to change theirs as well.  Every sustainable traveler makes a big difference, and we advise you not to strive for perfection, but just to try to be a little better one step at a time.

Plastic is the enemy:

Even as more people are becoming aware of the harms of single-use plastic, each day more and more is being used around the world.  Here are some fun facts about plastic that will make even the coldest-hearted people feel a little something.:

1. During the last 10 years alone, we have produced more plastic than in all of the 20th century.

2. Up to 50 percent of all plastic produced is used ONE TIME and thrown away.

3. Nearly half of all plastic floats (EPA 2006) and plastic production uses about 8% of global oil annually.  Bioplastics are not sustainable, as they use food sources and water for production.

4. Every piece of plastic produced still exists on the earth, except for the small amount which has been burned.  It takes 500-1000 years for plastic to decompose.

5. Plastic chemicals are absorbed by the human body.  Studies have found that more than 90% of Americans test positive for this chemical which can bring about major health problems.

Here are 8 of the easiest ways that you can reduce your plastic consumption while traveling and save money while you’re at it!

1. Refill or filter water into your own bottle:

 

Refill your bottle if available:

Not buying water is the thing travelers we talk to find most challenging.  Recently, we’ve found many hotels offering water refills for cheaper than buying a bottle at the store.  These hotels have discovered that they sell more water when they do it this way, decreasing plastic waste and increasing profits.

Filter the tap water:

This is how we travel at La Aventura Project.  We carry a Sawyer Mini inline water filter.  This attaches to our “camelback” hydration bladder which I fill with tap water and let drain into our refillable water bottles.  These filters will last for a long time, rated to filter more than 100,000 gallons of water in their life time.  They filter down to 0.1 microns, removing 99.99999% of bacteria (such as cholera, e-coli, salmonella) and 99.9999% of protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium).  It also weighs only 2 oz and retails around $25 USD, so you will save yourself loads of money on a trip abroad.  We estimate saving more than $30 USD each month of traveling by carrying this filter and have NEVER gotten sick from drinking the filtered water.  We have talked to other travelers who used the Sawyer Mini to filter muddy water straight out of the super polluted Mekong River in Laos, with no ill effects.

how i filter water and save plastic
Our water filtration setup. We haven’t bought a water bottle in 8 months using this method! That’s about 600 plastic bottles and more than $320 saved already!

2. Say no to plastic straws: #stopsucking

The problem: Often when you order a soda or stop for a coconut along the side of the road, someone is going to offer you a straw.  You’re first instinct might be “yeah, a straw sounds like a great idea!” Just remember that you will use the straw for minutes, but it will stay in the landfill (or the ocean) for the rest of your lifetime.  In the United States alone, over 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day.  This is enough to fill more than 120 school buses.  If you multiply this number the world over, you discover an unimaginable amount of waste that could have been avoided entirely.

The solution:  ether don’t use straws, or simply bring your own reusable straw.  Many online retailers sell different alternatives, some being better than others.

reduce plastic consumption while traveling reusable straws

Stainless steel straws:

A very popular alternative to plastic.  Most steel is produced from recycled materials, as it is cheaper and more efficient that producing new steel.  It takes very little energy to produce steel, and most of the by-products from production are able to be reused, from the extra heat turned into electricity, to the CO2 emitted used to carbonate soft drinks.  Stainless steel straws are easy to clean and can last a lifetime.

Bamboo straws:

Another great option.  Bamboo is cheap and sustainable to produce.  It grows without the use of herbicides and pesticides and produces 35% more oxygen that a similar farm of trees.  Bamboo also grows rapidly, needing only 3-5 years to harvest, balances the carbon and oxygen in the atmosphere, and is great for preventing soil erosion.  You also don’t need to replant bamboo after harvesting, as it regrows into a new tree from the roots.  It’s being called the new hemp, as it is great for fabric production.  Clothes made of bamboo have antibacterial properties, which they retain for up to 50 washings (great for napkins).  Bamboo scraps can be used to make paper, jewelry, and table utensils.  We really love these Bamboo Toothbrushes from Green Choice Lanka, Check out this article for more info about the sustainable uses of bamboo!

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Bamboo toothbrush by Green Choice Lanka in Sri Lanka!

3. Bring your own bag:

bring your own bag to cut down plastic consumption
Market bag from New Use in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Single use plastic bags one of the easiest things to avoid.  Simply bring your own canvas tote bag on your trip; they weigh very little and are always useful.  The hardest part is retraining your brain to remember to bring it.  Don’t worry if you forget, we aren’t trying to be perfect, just better.

4. Carry your own takeaway container:

It’s easy to have a reusable container in your backpack or luggage.  There are many different options available, but we like these metal containers with clasps so you don’t have to worry about the tops popping off!

5. Use bar soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent.

Many soap products contain micro beads, small plastic pieces which polish your skin.  These also get washed down the drain and end up in the ocean.  They look just like food to fish and are a terrible polluter of the ocean.  Soaps and shampoos also generally come in a disposable plastic bottle.  These problems can be eliminated by buying soaps in bar form from sustainable soap makers.  In the states, Dr. Bronners makes amazing, all-natural bar soaps.

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Our favorite soaps in Sri Lanka are made by Moonshadow!

6. Buy local if possible:

Buying local products directly funds the people and not large corporations.  Packaging and shipping produces huge amounts of plastic waste.  It also takes tremendous amounts of fuel to transport products long distances.  The worlds 16 biggest boats (used for shipping) produce more pollution than all the cars in the world.  

7. Stay at eco-friendly hotels and hostels:

The world is full of amazing people running sustainable hostels, hotels, and resorts.  Many travelers fear that staying at these places will break their budget, but we’ve found that the difference in price is not noticeable.  Look for things like water refills, local products, and upcycled decor, as these are the signs that a place is doing it right.  We’ve found that the places that care the most about the environment, usually care a little bit more about the people staying there as well.  It can be hard to find out which places are good to stay at, in Sri Lanka you can check to see if they are Good Market approved.  The Good Market will soon be worldwide, making it easier for travelers to choose sustainable places to spend our money.

8. Your money is powerful:

Remember that where you spend your money is the single greatest influence you have.  Skip the companies that don’t care about the earth, ***cough Coca-Cola cough Nestle cough***  excuse me, and choose green alternatives which are better for your health and better for the planet.

Remember, we aren’t going for perfect…

But with a little effort, your habits will change before you know it.  Others around you will notice your actions, and ask you how they can be more sustainable travelers.  Don’t forget to encourage people nicely, as humans listen better when you’re polite.  Save your nagging for the big polluting corporations, they love annoying environmentalists 😉

Thanks for reading and for caring about our planet!  If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Youtube channel where we’ve just returned from the Tuk Tuk Tournament, driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka to connect sustainable businesses and promote earth-friendly travel on this beautiful island!

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Tuk Tuk Tournament Sri Lanka – The funniest way to get off the beaten track!

 

tuk tuk tournament 2018 sri Lanka

As some of you may know, we are lucky enough to currently be undertaking the Tuk Tuk Tournament in Sri Lanka!  This is an epic two-week, “Amazing Race”- style adventure across the island.  Our chariot is the humble tuk tuk, the wheels of Sri Lanka’s poor and in general underprivileged people.   18 teams are taking part from all over the world.  The event begins in Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast, with a mid-party in the central mountains, and finishing in the capital of Colombo.

We have been chosen to represent Good Travel Program, a sustainability initiative which aims to connect sustainable businesses across Sri Lanka.  Besides trying to win the rally, we also have our main mission which is to promote “good traveling” and introduce the world to many of the folks working hard on sustainable projects and helping the local communities.  We will be savage in our efforts to educate the masses on the harms of plastic waste and hope to lead by good example to create a better future for us all.

We have just finished the tournament!  Thank you to everyone who supported us along the way!  Stay tuned for more videos, the sharing has just begun!  

Want to get rent your own tuk tuk and drive it around the island?  Go to tuktukrental.com and enter AVENTURA at checkout to receive 5% off your rental!

Want to get into Tuk Tuk Tournament 2019?  Sign up before the end of November to get 30% off!  MAKE SURE YOU TELL THEM THAT WE SENT YOU OR YOU WON’T GET THE DISCOUNT!!! That’s a great tukin’ deal if you ask us!

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Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

When you’re packing a small bag for a long trip, it can feel like the hardest level on Tetris! You want to make sure you have everything you’ll need, but without over-packing and ending up having to pay, either in extra charges from the airline or in back pain!

We’ve given you a sneak peek into our packing lists before, but here are some of our top tips on packing your own things efficiently.

Pre-plan

It’s so easy to pack too much, too little, or in some cases, just things you’ll never end up wearing. Make sure you check the weather forecast so you know what sort of things you should be packing, and also consider your itinerary.

If you’re planning lots of hikes, make sure you have the correct equipment, but if you’re also planning a fancy dinner or two, you’ll need dressier clothes as well. Make a list and tick off as you go so you can be sure you’ve got everything you need.

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Go mini

Travel-sized versions of your toiletries will save a lot of space in your suitcase and will ensure you can take them in hand luggage. For those that can’t be bought in those sizes, you can invest in some reusable travel bottles and decant your larger bottles into them. Make sure you put them in zip-top bags to avoid the devastating shampoo explosion! You should also be able to buy things such as a mini hair dryer or flat iron if you need to take those along with you.

Double up

If space is tight you don’t want to be packing one full outfit (or more!) per day. Think about things that can be re-worn and styled differently. For example, you could layer things for a different look, or dress something up or down depending on the shoes and accessories. This is even better if you have washing facilities where you’re staying as you can make a few items last a lot longer.  

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Cover your gadgets!

Good travel insurance will cover your gadgets, so if you’re planning on taking your tablets, cameras or laptops with you, it’s a good idea to look into what cover you can get. A trip will cost you a whole lot more if you end up losing your expensive bits of technology on the first day!

It’s best to limit the number of gadgets you take with you; consider what tech can be utilised in different ways, such as using your phone as a camera. Make sure you wrap up anything fragile in your clothes when packing, too.

Roll, don’t fold!

It has been proven that you can fit more in your case or bag if you go for a tightly rolled method, rather than folding your clothes. The other benefit to this is that your clothes won’t get those deep fold lines that often come from sitting in a case for a while.

So these are just some of our top tips on how to pack efficiently! Whether you are backpacking around the world or just going on a business trip, you can apply these and make the most of your space. We’ve certainly found that it’s a skill we get better at each time we do it! If you’ve got any tips for packing, please leave them in the comments.

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Mulkirigala – Our Favorite Sri Lanka Temple

Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara near Tangalle, in south Sri Lanka is a unique Buddhist temple built ascending a 205 meter (673 foot) natural rock formation.  The temple consists of many caves containing reclining Buddhas and painted ceilings, along with a Stupa at the summit.  From the top you can hike around the back to a gigantic rock cliff with fantastic views of the lush surrounding area.

Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple sri lanka

We rode a tuk tuk from Hiriketiya for about 40 min to reach the Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple.  The entrance fee is 500 rupees for foreigners.  There are many monkeys to greet you and encourage you, hooting and hollering at you as you are sweating your way up the long staircases.

Mulkirigala - Our Favorite Sri Lanka Temple

The temple was constructed in the 3rd century and contains a tree germinated from the Bodhi tree in which Buddha supposedly gain enlightenment under.  We didn’t see the tree, unfortunately, because we only read about it after.  So take a picture for us when you go! 😉  We did make a video though.  The video shows our journey starting in Hiriketiya and ending at this temple.  Check it out!

On the way up to Mulkirigala’s highest stupa there are four or five caves, each containing a reclining Buddha statue and beautifully painted ceilings.  Don’t forget to buy some flowers at the bottom to leave as an offering for Buddha in one of the caves!

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Along the way there are several guys who will give you a blessing and put a bracelet on you.  You can recognize which people go to temple because of the string around their wrists.  They give the blessing mostly in Sinhalese but do their best to translate a bit to English.  We know it means something like “Buddha and the monks bless you.  Have a long and happy life!”

Mulkirigala - Our Favorite Sri Lanka Temple

 

The highlight of Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple for us is the overlook at the top.  Sitting on top of a giant rock, it feels like you can see all of Sri Lanka.  It’s a great place to meditate for a minute or two.

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When in Sri Lanka don’t miss Mulkirigala Rock Temple.  It was our favorite temple in Sri Lanka and one of the most unique we’ve been to anywhere.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to check out our other Sri Lanka posts, and please subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

Stay tuned for big news about our plans for 2019.  We’re about to take this adventure thing to the next level!!!

 

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