Exploring the USA
One National & State Park at a Time
Here is a brief description about how we manage to maintain our
Plant Based Lifestyle while on the road!  Our Very First Road Trip was in 2013 for 43 days and we covered over 10,000+ miles in this little Smart Car!!

We have since upgraded to a Kia Soul!

In 2014, we began using AirBnB.com to check for accommodations in areas we planned to stay for a while.  It is a great resource to find a home to rent with fully equipped kitchen so you can prepare your own meals.  Often it is the same or even cheaper than a hotel room with kitchenette!  After several trips, we found that we can make reservations a few days in advanced with the Hotel Chain's Web site for the same or better price and we can cancer up to 24 hours in advance; many AirBnB places won't let you do that.  We now travel in a more unscheduled way and often divert or change routes on the fly.  More exciting that way and way more flexible without being more expensive.

We stay in hotels with kitchenettes when possible otherwise we find a hotel/motel room with a microwave and fridge which was better than nothing.  It is pretty easy to call ahead and verify the accommodations.  When you do, if you are traveling with coolers and extra equipment, verify they have a luggage carrier to use; suprisingly many lower cost places do not!  We changed our reservations several times just for this reason!

As we gained more experience and much by accident, we found that many great resorts have excellent rates if you travel just before or after their peak season.  Our favorite is Diamond Resorts because they seem to be located in some of our favorite destinations.  Last minute reservations are often welcomed because they don't book and hate having empty rooms.  Another good reason to book with major chains with easy/flexible cancellation policies!  We have saved a lot of money this way!

We seldom use a microwave at home other than to heat water or melt vegan butter when baking as I believe it's not a good thing. We reheat using a pan, but sometimes you have to do what you have to in certain situations. When traveling, sometimes you just have to use the facilities available and for a short period, it is probably not that harmful.

We usually have a large cooler that plugs into the car's convenience outlet (old style cigarette lighter plug) and we purchase hard to find vegan items when we find a decent store. We usually carry a selection of staple and often hard to find products.  In this list is organic soy milk, organic tofu, a selection of vegan soups (many by John Mcdougall) and vegan butter.  We buy salad fixins at whatever store is most convenient so usually have plenty of greens to go with whatever prepared meal we select. We take a small electric/induction 'burner' for motel rooms that don't accommodate our request for refrigerator and microwave. We take two glass bowls, with glass lids, for heating in microwave so there was no plastic and two place settings of dishes, knives, silverware and a cutting board. Sounds like a lot but it works out really well, also a can opener and sharp knifes for cutting veggies.

Out West Natural Grocers (http://www.naturalgrocers.com/), an organic market not unlike Whole Foods Market is a great place to  purchase veggies and more; much of it organic and vegan! We found several Natural Grocers along the way on our trips; terrific stores!  Also we found, especially out West, that Safeway had a good selection of fresh vegetables, fruit and some acceptable breads; but that stopped once we got past Washington State.  After than most Safeway stores were stocked with lousy products much as most grocery stores across the Country!

On the West Coast, Cannon Beach was one of our most favorite places and we love to stay nearby.  We found several local groceries where we could purchase fresh vegetables, fruit and other vegan supplies.  Many local pizza places will accommodated a request for a 'vegan pizza' if you provided the vegan cheese.  Always have a new/sealed package of vegan cheese; most restaurants can only use this type of ingredient if sealed for health code reasons! You may have to explain just what you want but if you go during 'non-peak' times most will accommodate your requests!

We have an app for our phone called Happy Cow which will tell you where all the markets and vegan restaurants are for the local area (based on GPS). You can prepare meals in advance and store things in the cooler if one destination didn't have anything acceptable to eat. Nancy also prepares dishes when we have a kitchenette that would go in the cooler and only needed to heat up again when we had a motel without a microwave or kitchenette.  When we have a kitchenette available, Nancy will cook up vegan roasts, meat-loaf and other entrees and make sandwiches for the next day.

We carry small cartons of non-dairy milk for cereal in the mornings and we buy fresh fruit when availible.  Many of the the hotels will have a continental breakfast so you can grab oranges, apples and bananas to go. Most of the stuff available at these 'free breakfasts are not worth consuming and are mostly were junk foods.  We cut organic veggies up for munching in the car as we ride along.

Always remember, if it is a good restaurant the chef can usually make a vegan dish but they really overcharge for this so we eat in our room as much as possible and never feel deprived. It is a shame that so many restaurants either have no clue about 'real food' cuisine and how to prepare or when they do condescendingly prepare it, often charge an exorbitant amount. We found this to be the case at the Sinatra Resturant in the Winn Hotel in Las Vegas.

There is another phone app called Fooducate which is great...you can scan any product in the store and it will tell you whether its vegan has GMO in it and will grade the product from A+-D etc. Using Fooducate in additional to Happy Cow, we are able to select healthy products all across the country; some places easier to find than others!

The farther you get into cattle country the harder it is to find vegan restaurants! We find that Thai, Asian and Indian restaurants can usually prepare a vegan dish for you so they are our standbys. When driving several hours we find Subway, all veggie sandwiches to get us through!  We should have them sponsor our trips! Not the best choice probably but worked.  (Subway has recently improved the ingredients in their breads!)

We also take an inexpensive coffee pot for as most of the hotels have these dinky little 4 cup coffee pots, which hardly fill a coffee travel mug. You will find several hotels with laundry facilities as well.
Have a great idea?  
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