Maria Giurcan is the blogger behind VeganWorldTrekker.com. She has a wealth of experience and wisdom to share about her travels as a vegan. From various European adventures to the Green Mountains of Vermont, Maria’s list of countries visited is inspiring to say the least. The information she shares covers the spectrum from specific restaurant recommendations, practical tips, and big picture issues that she discovers and ponders as a traveler. We sat down with Maria to chat about her approach, some of her fondest memories, and her list of must-haves for vegan travel.
Maria at the amphitheater at Hieropoulos in Turkey.
1) What’s your approach to vegan travel?
I have an immense passion for travel and culture, and thus never exclude any destination on my “future travel list” in fear of not finding enough vegan meal options. I prepare by doing pre-trip research for vegan dining, sightseeing attractions, regional safety, accommodations, and transportation. My travel destination typically includes locations where I can experience indigenous animals.
2) Do you do a lot of planning and research up front so you’ll know what vegan eating options you’ll have in particular locations?
Yes! I research vegan dining options on veg-friendly restaurant search sites such as VegDining.com and HappyCow.net. In addition, I do specific Google searches for various types of vegan food or shops such as searching for “vegan bakery Copenhagen” or “vegan gelato Rome” or “vegan shop Istanbul.”
3) What are your three most memorable trips?
Gosh! That is such a difficult question! I really appreciate the geography, animals, culture, music, history, and vegan dining at every destination that I visit! A few of my many memorable trips are my trips to Cape Town, South Africa for its precious wildlife (baboons, ostrich, zebras, and penguins), Peru for its stunning landscape along the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and most recently Turkey for its glorious historic sites such as Ephesus.
4) Have you had any compelling, funny, or awkward moments as a vegan traveler?
The only semi-awkward moment I had recently is when I tried to explain in one destination that my meal needs to be prepared again because when I said I can’t eat cheese. They thought “a little bit” would be okay. Also, explaining that my veggies cannot touch utensils used for cutting meats can be a bit awkward in some places.
5) What vegan-friendly travel gear items are a must-have on your list?
My must-have travel gear includes a carry-on bag for the items I need to access during my flight (guide books, snacks, travel socks, etc), my luggage, my handbag, shoes/hiking boots/sneakers (Sanuk), and my coat (Vaute Couture). For carry-on bags, I like my Vera Bradley quilted bag. It is soft and foldable so it fits nicely under the plane seat in front of me for storage and easy access. For luggage, I have my Hey’s luggage eco-friendly suitcase. It is hard material with brightly colored patterns, easy to spot on the airport luggage bin.
6) Is it hard to find vegan luggage and travel gear? What are some good material alternatives to leather products?
Not really. You can find non-leather luggage in shops and online. Most luggage shops or department stores carry luggage made of fabric or vinyl/polyurethane. The company Corkor offers vegan, eco-friendly carry-on bags made of cork.
7) Do you travel with any vegan food preparation tools? Or with vegan snacks that you prep ahead of time?
I do not personally travel with food preparation tools. If you do sufficient pre-trip research, you will have a decent list of places to dine during your travels. I bring several vegan travel snacks and packaged meals with me in my luggage, in case any particular destination doesn’t offer vegan options or if I am on a tour bus that will not stop at a vegan-friendly restaurant. Vegan trail mix, Pure Bars, Lara Bars, dried fruits, nuts, and pretzels round out the snacks. I also bring vegan packaged oatmeal cups, soup cups, and freeze-dried vegan camping meals in case the airline doesn’t offer anything. Being prepared ensures that my trip is worry-free and exciting!
Keep up with Maria’s adventures on VeganWorldTrekker.com.