Traveling Vegan: Airport Hacks

When I first went veg, traveling was the hardest part. I mean, it’s hard enough to find healthy-ish food in an airport, but now let’s find some healthy-ish food that doesn’t have any meat, eggs or dairy… and I’d prefer that it be lightly processed. GOOD LUCK!

As a person who occasionally experiences a mean case of the hangries, it didn’t take more than a couple extended layovers for me to figure out how to eat vegan at the airport.

Before leaving the house, I always pack a few snacks that will make it through airport security (even for short flights, because you never know if you’ll get delayed!):

  • Nuts are high in protein and healthy fats, plus the satisfying crunch can help stave off hunger.
  • Trail mix with salty almonds and sweet dried fruit is great combo.
  • Instant oatmeal packets are a super easy way to get a hot meal! All you need is a cup of hot water, either from a coffee shop at the airport or the flight attendant in-flight, and you’re all set.
  • Fruit: apples and berries are great, bananas are terrible unless you like them smushed.

Once you’re at the airport, and depending on which airport you’re traveling through, it can be a bit tricky to find healthy vegan options. But, tricky isn’t impossible 🙂 here are my go-to foods that you can find at just about any airpot:

  • Not to be redundant, but nuts are delicious and they’re sold everywhere.
  • Salads, hold the cheese/eggs/bacon bits/whatever else is on there that’s not a plant, dressing on the side. Just say no to creamy dressings; vinaigrettes are a safe option. Toss in a few of the nuts you bought 😉
  • Bagels are almost always vegan, and topped with peanut butter they make a meal! Avoid bagels with honey, cheese, and chocolate chips. Check if they have nutritional information available, and avoid options that have cholesterol as there is no cholesterol in plant foods.
  • Some airport markets have those little Sabra hummus and pretzel cups – done. If you can’t find peanut butter, but you can find these hummus packs, bagels topped with hummus is quite delicious.
  • The oatmeal sold at Starbucks can also be made vegan – just ask the barista to use soy or coconut milk, instead.
  • Made-to-order sandwich shops are great if they have avocado – gotta get my protein!
  • If you’re ordering a veggie burger, be sure to ask for no butter on the bun.

There are also a few vegan-friendly airport restaurants, and I’ve noticed more popping up in recent years, like RootDown coming to Denver International Airport – WIN!

What are your favorite ways to eat vegan (or even just eating healthy) while traveling through the airport?

30 Hours in Joshua Tree National Park

I’m always down to explore one of our beautiful National Parks, but Joshua Tree National Park is one that’s been on my bucket list for years. Mostly because the Joshua Tree looks like it grew straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, I won’t lie, and also because this desert scene is something brand new to me.

Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

 

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve been spoiled by with sweeping mountain views my entire life; and though views of the Rocky Mountains certainly never get old, there’s something about the desert landscape that just gets me. Maybe it’s the vast, wide-openness that calls to my adventurous side, or the fact that I’m slightly obsessed with cacti (even though I definitely backhanded a cholla cactus… twice). That my parents raised me with an insatiable desire to see, do and learn is definitely a factor 😉

Regardless of the reason, four of us flew to Los Angles, drove 2.5 hours east into the desert, and descended on Joshua Tree National Park for a mere 30 hours. Now, that’s not really enough time to see the entire park, so we picked out our top spots and hit as many as we could, and I’m already planning my next trip back!

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Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Our first stop in Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden, a .25-mile loop through thousands of naturally growing cholla cactus! You’ll want to wear closed-toes shoes, and stay on the trail… fun facts about these cholla babies: they’re also called “jumping cholla” because the spines break off easily and instantly stick to anything that brushes up against them, and the barbed needles to curve are extremely painful to remove.Cholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National ParkCholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park
  2. At our second stop, we walked the 1-mile loop around Hidden Valley. It was a fairly easy hike with tons of rocks to climb and great sites along the way. The valley itself is stunning, surrounded by massive rock walls and filled with Joshua Trees and cacti.hidden valley joshua tree national park top places to visitIMG_4235
  3. We watched the sun set over the Coachella Valley from Keys View, and it was unfortunately super cloudy. And super windy. And super cold. So we didn’t stay too long. I have a feeling that the 3-mile hike up Ryan Mountain would also offer spectacular views!Coachella valley joshua tree national park
  4. The next morning we came back to watch the sunrise and it was, as expected, completely breathtaking. While Keys View or Ryan Mountain (if you can hike in the dark) would be amazing to watch the sunrise as well, we just pulled off to the side of the road and had a perfect view.watching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national park
  5. Of course, we couldn’t leave without climbing around on some of the massive rocks strewn throughout the park!rock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national park

And I already have a few ideas in mind for the next trip back 😉 stay tuned!

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Taos Pueblo and Santa Fe Turquoise – A Weekend Trip to New Mexico

At 5am, it’s very dark out and we learned quickly that not every Starbucks is open that early… nevertheless; we hit the road with big smiles and a Spotify playlist. After a few short hours, we made it to Taos and stopped at the Taos Pueblo to see the adobe homes and structures that have survived over 1000 years! They have been living in the same valley since ~900 AD – hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. Learning about this beautiful culture and the immense history while walking around the village was definitely worth the stop.

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Between Taos and Santa Fe, there are quite a few flea markets along the side of the road with southwestern style home décor, dishes and glassware, planters and even dried chili peppers! I’ll be honest though, the prices aren’t much better than what you find in the cities, and they often aren’t negotiable – we mostly stopped to get out and walk around.

Chili Peppers Drying in Santa Fe

When we finally made it to Santa Fe, we pulled right into the center of town and parked near the Plaza. Most of the buildings in the city mimic the old adobe style, and vendors lined the sidewalks with beautiful artwork, leather goods and handmade sterling silver jewelry set with turquoise and coral. It was a dream!

Top Places to Shop for Turquoise in Santa Fe

  1. Sidewalk vendors – Not only will you find better deals here, their jewelry is often handmade using techniques that have been passed down through generations. I talked to 1 vendor who is a 3rd generation silversmith, and makes some of the most beautiful sterling silver bracelets and cuffs I’ve ever seen! Another vendor was able to explain the process of cutting the turquoise and that triangle pieces are more difficult to achieve – the longer and thinner the triangle, the more easily the stone will break while they buff the stone and set it in metal. He also sized my ring with a wooden mallet, which was pretty awesome.Where to Buy Turquoise in Santa Fe Street Vendor
  2. The Rose’s pawn shop at 117 E. Palace Ave, Santa Fe – you must go here! They have beautiful vintage turquoise jewelry, buffalo turquoise, coral, and other stones, with very reasonable prices. They even have a selection of Fred Harvey turquoise and sterling silver bracelets that are in perfect condition. It was hard to walk out of there without buying up their entire inventory!
    Turquoise Rings Where To Buy Turquoise Sante Fe
    @agaveandstone

    Shopping for turquoise in santa fe new mexico
    @brittany_lawler
  3. Goodwill – OK, maybe not for turquoise or jewelry, but if you’re interested in leather it’s definitely worth the stop! I found a Dooney & Bourke leather bag in excellent condition for $90, and there were racks of leather jackets (hello southwestern fringe!).

Places to Eat in Santa Fe

I’ll be honest; we were only in the town for about 30 hours so I’m no expert on where to eat in Santa Fe, but we did have some delicious food while we were there! Here are the places I’d go back to:

  1. Go to Tia Sophia’s for lunch and instead of your typical breadbasket, you’ll get a basket of fresh, warm sopapillas with honey and cinnamon sugar. They also have some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had, and I’m definitely close to being an expert on guac.
  2. For dinner, we went to The Shed – the food was delicious, the chili was super spicy, but mostly the margaritas were on point! If the weather’s nice, get there early to snag a table on their outdoor patio.
  3. We grabbed a quick breakfast from one of the few places in town that doesn’t offer tacos and smothered burritos – The French Pastry Shop. It was so good! I love crepes, and they definitely do it right here by loading their giant crepes with as many ingredients as you’d like. Personally, I went with spinach, egg and cheese and was so happy. Just know that they only take cash, so come prepared!

To get a great view of the city, or to watch the sunset in Santa Fe, head up to the Cross of the Martyrs! It’s a quick, uphill walk on a paved path with stairs and benches along the way, so it’s fairly accessible for most.

A quick weekend was just enough time to briefly explore this amazing city, and I already can’t wait to go back.

Il Mercato Centrale Firenze

We’d heard about this place from a friend who tried to give us directions, but in between taking the 2nd alley on the right, dodging street vendors and us inevitably veering off course, we were about to cut our losses and start heading back in the general direction of our apartment when…

il-mercato-centrale-firenze-sign

… the Mercato Centrale appeared. And then we looked across the street and saw Trattoria Za Za, the restaurant we’d eaten at the night before with an entire menu for truffle dishes. I blame that truffle menu for not noticing that we were in the Piazza del Mercato Centrale.

 

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The Mercato Centrale, or Central Market, is a warehouse packed with different restaurants, cafes, butchers and little shops selling oils, vinegars, limoncello, noodles and dried fruit. Right at the top of the stairs, fresh pressed OJ, creamy espresso and endless cases of pastries… so we found heaven.

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Not many of the shops were open in the morning, so we grabbed some fresh fruit and pastries, and found a café that would give us espresso to go. Trust me, that’s a feat.

We came back for a lunch the next day and had a really hard time deciding, so we just grabbed a whole pizza, burrata on toast, sandwiches and a pastry. And this is when I realized that I have food fomo.

il-mercato-centrale-firenze-best-food-to-order

Heading back to our apartment, we ran into these two lovebirds – my sister and bro in-law! Running into Jess and Max in each city was easily one of my favorite parts of this trip 🙂

jess-and-max