Monday, June 11, 2012

Vegan Travel Guide: Favorite Travel Snacks

Eating a Genuine French Baguette in Paris
One of the biggest ways to reduce stress when traveling is to bring some food with you. Having your own stash means you always have an option and will continue to have the energy to trek up those sand dunes, explore all of London, or snorkel in the clear blue sea.

I started traveling with a few snacks on a high school trip to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. While the food in Scandinavia was great, I practically lived out of my suitcase once I got to Russia. Even as a lacto-ovo vegetarian, there wasn't much I wanted to eat.

I've continued to travel as a vegetarian and a vegan, refining my travel snack picks with each trip. Read on for my latest and greatest favorite travel foods.

Protein Bars:
What makes a great protein bar? For me, it's organic ingredients, high protein content, and relatively low sugar. Of course, having a low price helps, too.
  • Vega Whole Food Vibrancy Bars - This is probably one of the best vegan protein bars on the market. With fantastic ingredients designed for easy digestion, this tasty snack contains a lot less sugar than most competitors. Organic, sprouted, and raw, this isn't the cheapest, but by far one of my favorites. My top flavor? Chocolate Decadence.
  • The Simply Bar - Vegan, low in sugar and high in protein, these are an excellent choice. They are low in calories, so I wouldn't recommend eating just this bar instead of a meal, but can be a great snack or  supplement to a meal. These are a bit like rice crispy bars. They are gluten-free and contain some organic ingredients. I like Cocoa Raspbery best.
  • Luna Bars - I've been eating these bars for years, as they are easy to find, pack in a lot of protein, and are generally affordable. They are mainly soy-based, contain some organic ingredients, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. They satisfy a sweet tooth without being too sugary. If traveling somewhere hot, the coating on the bottom may melt. NOTE: While the normal Luna bars on non-dairy, vegans should watch out for the Luna Protein bars which contain whey protein (from milk).
  • Clif Bars - Made by the same company as Luna Bars, these are marketed to athletes while Luna Bars are marketed to women. For this reason, these bars tend to be my man's travel bar of choice. Affordable, tasty, and sweet, these are essentially like a chewy cookie that packs in around 10 grams of protein. The most sugary of the bunch, these are not necessarily the most healthy, but they travel well and contain many organic ingredients. Chocolate chip is a nice choice if you're new to the brand.

Snack Bars:
Snack bars can range from fancy fruit and nut bars to traditional "granola" bars many of us remember from our childhood lunchboxes. I tend to prefer those that are more like trail mix (dried fruit and nuts, preferably organic) but occasionally I'll indulge in something more traditional.
  • Larabars - Made with very simple ingredients and easy to find in stores, Larabars can be a great fruit and nut snack. I love how there are no added sugars. The main disadvantage is that these bars aren't organic. Also, vegans should note that the flavors with chocolate chips may contain traces of dairy. Try Apple Pie and Peanut Butter Cookie to start. Click here for a full review. UPDATE: Clif now makes an organic fruit and nut bar very similar to a Larabar. Check out the review here.
  • Real Food Barre - Similar to Larabars but in my opinion superior in taste and texture, the Barre is slightly more expensive and is often only locally available at dance stores. Click here for my review.
  • Rise Bars - Those with allergies may appreciate Rise Bars, which are vegan, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, and peanut-free. A tasty fruit and nut bar, this is another good option, although you will pay a little more compared to something like a Larabar. Click here for a full review.
  • Pure Bars - Vegan, raw, and gluten-free, these organic bars have excellent ingredients. They have no added sugar and offers a variety of certifications. I love the snappy packaging and consistency. Click here for a full review.
  • Nature's Path Sunny Hemp Granola Bars - These sweet granola bars are made with raisins, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds. They contain many organic ingredients and are a fun treat. Although not high in protein, these can be a decent snack on the go, but they do fair amount of sugar.
  • Annie's Organic Chocolate Chipper Chewy Granola Bars - For those moments when you just want a traditional chocolate chip granola bar, Annie's makes an option that is organic and dairy-free. At only 120 calories, these won't hold you long, but they can help keep hunger at bay when your restaurant is still an hour away. Click here for a full review.

Fruits and Veggies:
I'm not too picky on dried fruit. I mainly look for organic and affordable, but I don't have a dehydrator yet so I buy packaged versions.
  • Fruit Leathers - Essentially the "adult" version of a fruit roll-up, these dried fruit snacks are flat and travel extremely well. Made from pureed fruit, I love the simple ingredients.
  • Boxed Raisins - Although relatively high in fruit sugars, dried fruits can be a good option when fresh options aren't available. Raisins can be found in almost any grocery store and travel well.
  • Kale Chips - I had an aversion to kale chips until I tried the BBQ flavor by Rhythm Superfoods. These tasty snacks happen to be made in Austin (my hometown) and pack a great flavor. While they are packaged in a resealable bag, they can be crushed easily so pack carefully.
  • Stretch Island Fruitabu Rolls - If you have a kid or aren't afraid of looking like one, Fruitabu Rolls are a natural alternative to fruity treats such as Fruit By the Foot. While the ingredients aren't quite as pure as this close cousin of fruit leathers, these can be a fun travel snack.

Other Foods:
Don't forget to look beyond the snack aisle for some other great travel foods.
  • Instant Oatmeal - Skip expensive breakfasts by making your own instant oatmeal. You can even make these in a hotel room if it has a hot water pot for coffee or tea. I prefer plain oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon, but you can also make your own or buy flavored packets instead. If you have access to a microwave, I highly recommend Better Oats (add raisins and cinnamon for a real treat).
  • Vega Shake and Go Smoothie - A chocolate smoothie is part of my daily routine, even when traveling. When I can't make my own version, I depend on Vega's powdered version. All you need is water to prepare a low-calorie, high-protein drink.
  • Primal Strips Meatless Jerky - This jerky makes a tasty, high-protein snack. My favorite, the teriyaki flavor, is just under 100 calories and made from wheat gluten. Although not terribly similar to jerky in terms of texture, it is meaty and delicious.
  • Almond Butter squeeze packets - These amazing products are nothing more than almond butter in a squeezable packet. This is an excellent option when traveling places where you can find fresh bread or crackers. I used this strategy in the Louvre in Paris to make a meal with some crackers and a fruit cup from the museum food court. They are fantastically convenient because no knife is necessary. I recommend storing in a plastic zip-top bag in case of any leaks.
  • Go Picnic - These packaged meals can be eaten either as a meal or piece by piece for snacks. Affordable and available at many retail stores, these are a great alternative to expensive airplane options and travel well. Check the website for current vegan options. As of this posting, they are Sunbutter and Crackers, Almond Butter and Crackers, Black Bean Dip and Plantain Chips, and Edamame Kale Dip and Plantain Chips.

For more on traveling vegan-style, check out the rest of the Vegan Travel Guide series.

What are your favorite travel foods? Please share them in the comments below!

Disclosure notice: Products mentioned in this article were provided free of charge by the manufacturer or purchased with my own funds. No additional compensation was accepted and the opinions are my own. Please verify any claims with the manufacturer, especially if you have any allergies or concerns.

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