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How I Travel While Vegan

April 4th marks three whole years of me being vegan! Now that’s not without a cheat meal or cheat snack here or there. Or the time I cried in the bathroom at a restaurant when they gave me a BEEF burger when I asked for a BEYOND burger (I get it… easy mixup). But for the most part, I’ve operated at at least 95% vegan for the past three years, and I think that’s saying something! I haven’t stuck with anything for that long, and I have never once regretted my decision to go vegan.

So to celebrate that, and my upcoming trip to Croatia, here are my 5 best tips on how to travel while living a vegan lifestyle!

 

Unlike when I first transitioned into veganism, now I travel- a lot. And I have a few rules for traveling, some of which are pretty unpopular, but here we go!

My biggest travel rule is that I don’t eat vegan while traveling internationally. I know. You can begin hurling the “fake vegan” hate all you want. But let me explain!

I think the greatest part of being able to travel the world is that we get to experience other cultures. Maybe we only get to visit these countries with these rich histories once in our lifetimes. I don’t want to waste that one time. I want to relish in the culture- which is so hugely impacted by food.

That doesn’t mean I view international travel as an excuse to eat whatever I want. But if the traditional dish in a country has dairy in it, I’m still going to try it. I mean… if the traditional dish is steak, I’m going to pass. I still get sick when I eat animal products, so I can’t go crazy. But sampling various cuisines is such an important part of traveling. And while finding all of the best vegan restaurants in different cities has become something I’ve gotten increasingly good at, I think we should still submerse ourselves entirely into other cultures (but thats just me).

 

Now, traveling in America? I stick to my fully vegan lifestyle. Which is good because I travel around America quite a bit. Here are the top five things I always do to make it easy to stay vegan when I travel:

  1. Know before you go! Do the research beforehand! I always google “best vegan restaurants” in the city I’m visiting. This is so obvious, but people will forget before they get to their destination, and then cave because it’s too difficult to navigate a different environment. Keep a list on your phone of top restaurants as you’re researching so that you can refer back to it. This makes me really excited to find new places to try, so try to make it fun!

  2. Stock up early. When you get to where you’re going, hit the grocery store first. You might be tempted to rush to the beach or hit that first trailhead, but stop. Go to the grocery. Grab a few things that you can munch on if there’s nothing else around. Don’t wait until it’s 2am and you’re in the Uber on the way home from the bars and your travel buddies want to stop and grab pizza and you haven’t eaten all day because there were no vegan options. I usually grab a bag of arugula, baby carrots, a tub of hummus, and bananas. This gives me a lot of variety, for not much money (Helllllllo cheap!).

  3. Be prepared. In the weeks leading up to my travels, I get very in tune with my eating habits so that I can know my body before I take it to a different city or country. I always pack something for me to eat on the plane and for at least the first 24 hours of travel. One time I went to Stockholm and didn’t eat anything except Larabars for 2 full days because I couldn’t read the language. Whoops!! Could’ve been prevented had I just come prepared.

  4. Remember your staples. What food items can you always rely on? For me, when I’m out at restaurants, it’s usually salads, steamed vegetables, rice, and almost always french fries. If you know off the top of your head the ~usually vegan~ foods, it’ll be easier to decipher a menu and feel more confident in your food choices when you’re out and about. Take it one step further by asking yourself: What have you been craving lately? Can you pack some of those things along with you, in case you can’t access vegan options?

  5. Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask your server if certain foods are vegan. I usually find the most likely vegan foods, and then I’ll ask “does this have any dairy or eggs in it?” or “Is this cooked in butter?” Knowing what to ask and not being afraid to speak up can really help you stay fueled up while traveling!

And that’s it! Mostly, what all of this leads to is: think ahead! It is totally possible to stay vegan while you travel, and it can even be easy if you just prepare. What are your favorite vegan snacks for travel? Let me know in the comments section below!

If you’re interested in following along with my Croatian travels, check out my Instagram to stay up to date!

 
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An Out-of-Towner's Guide to San Diego

(PS for the sake of this post, I’m not going to be including iPhone photos, so there will be a mix of edited and unedited images!)

This is a guide to San Diego. Do I know enough about the city to write an entire guide? Absolutely not. I’m just a New Yorker that likes to travel! In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m gearing up for my next trip. I’ve already taken 3 trips this summer (NJ shore, Ohio, and San Diego). This weekend, I’ve got another trip to the NJ shore planned, and then next week I head off for Denver. Then 3 more trips and summer will be over! So you know… one might say I get around ;) I travel by myself pretty frequently these days, but my favorite trips are the ones I get to take with my husband, Zach (cue the mush) (it’s our third anniversary so y’all will have to deal).

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Zach told me that this wasn’t the Grand Canyon (he was like “Uh I’ve  been  to the Grand Canyon. I would know. That is  not  the Grand Canyon.” Well guess what. I still don’t know, but I think it definitely has to be, right??

Zach told me that this wasn’t the Grand Canyon (he was like “Uh I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. I would know. That is not the Grand Canyon.” Well guess what. I still don’t know, but I think it definitely has to be, right??

On the fourth of July, Zach and I woke up and stumbled half asleep into an Uber, on our way to the airport. I used to be so scared of flying, and tbh I’m not totally over that fear. I’ve been to so many aviation museums, and my dad used to fly planes when I was younger….. but I will NEVER understand how an airplane stays up in the air. I know its simple science and engineering. I’m mostly just unwilling to learn. LEAVE MY IGNORANCE BE.

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We touched down and picked up a Jeep Wrangler :’) Zach rented this for me as a birthday gift :’) Maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me, but I’ve always loved Jeeps. We made off toward the Zoo and Y’ALL!!! The San Diego Zoo is historic for its innovation in animal rehabilitation and display, but also it’s HUGE and so cool and educational!! At over 100 acres, it’s best to use the buses to get around the zoo… but I’m a New Yorker, so naturally I walked the whole thing. No lie…. we made a point to see each of the 650 species. By foot. It took us all of 4 hours, but we did it! New Yorkers walk quickly, so take that into consideration if you’re planning on also walking the whole zoo (but I have faith in you!). The zoo is located inside of Balboa Park, and if you catch the sky ride, you can get a beautiful view of the entire park and the surrounding city!

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We noticed the sun was starting to fade, so we literally ran out of the zoo and hit the road super quickly so that we could catch the sun setting over the ocean. Something about a west coast sunset, you know? We went to Sunset Cliffs and were able to stand over the ocean from above the cliffs and look down toward the beach. Talk about gorgeous. 

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OH! And can we talk about these cuties on a cliff?? Hiiiii, hit me up for your cliffside couples session!

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Since your girl is broke af, I’m always looking for a cheap way to travel. I don’t want to give up traveling entirely, so I’ve gotten pretty good at finding ways to cut costs. I don’t need a 5-star hotel to stay in, and I usually save most of my money by renting out ~alternative accommodations~ ex. this super adorable Airstream!! Can you believe it was a fraction of the cost of a regular hotel or Airbnb!?

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We spent the next few days exploring the beaches, hills, and neighboring cities. We drove up and down the coast, stopping at all of the vegan fast food restaurants (there are SO many!!!) (my favorite? the chicken and waffles sandwich from Plant Power Fast Food) and surf shops. We spent time in North Park, which is like the Brooklyn of San Diego (or so I’m told). I probably ate at least 30 donuts from Dark Horse Coffee. There was a beautiful bar that I’d recommend to every single person that visits SD, called Polite Provisions and WOW. Gorgeous. Beautiful interior, unbelievable drinks, and amazing service that takes you back to another place and time!

We kayaked out in La Jolla, which I definitely think is a must-do for all tourists. It was incredibly busy, but I think you could attribute that to the holiday weekend (again, do I know enough about San Diego to say this? Absolutely not!). La Jolla cove kayaking is on the top of every other blog’s to-do list, and I can’t argue. Tack on the snorkeling, too, and you’re set! Better yet- if you go to San Diego in August, you can view the shark migration. We were a little early for this (and yeah right- Zach would NEVER!), but the snorkeling was still worth it.

Head across the giant bridge to Coronado to do a whole lotta nothing if you’re under 65! There is Hotel Coronado which is famous for something I guess, but I felt as if this had the least culture to offer. Same things goes for Carlsbad! But the drive up to Carlsbad will make you realize what all those west coasters are talking about when they bring up smog! Bottom line: stick to San Diego.

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Oh and did I mention I’m now married to a sk8r boi? We hit Slappy’s Garage, which is a local skate shop, where we met a super cool videographer, and Zach got a new board (we spent a lot of time at skate parks).

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And of course, the whole trip was centered NOT around the 4th of July, but around THEMOST IMPORTANT JULY HOLIDAY: my birthday :) I turned 25!! We started the ~special~ day hiking out in Mission Trails Regional Park on the Climber’s Hike. At the top of the hike, there’s a few different routes for climbing (hence the name of the trail). We don’t know how to lead climb, but we did sit and watch for a while! How cute is my husband, by the way!? I’m so gross and am totally drooling while uploading these photos.

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Something that was so important to me when I started seriously considering marriage with Zach was that he and I would be able to travel together. Our first adventure was to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day and it was a disaster. He touched all of my stuff and cleaned the hotel room even when I told him I prefer the mess. I thought we’d break up right then and there. But we have gotten so good at traveling together! We both know exactly what the other will want to see and do, and we tend to settle on amazing compromises. I haven’t found a better traveling buddy! This entire trip was like a dream, and if I’d taken my camera out more instead of trying to ~live in the moment~ I’d have more photos for you! Maybe on my next trip!

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The Great Outdoors

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When I graduated from college in May 2015, the plan was to move to Denver for a few months to start job hunting before coming back to Savannah in August for our wedding. My husband Zach and I were all set to head out west and even had my sister (who lives there now) looking at apartments for us.

Then the call came. 

It was our friends. They wanted to know if we wanted to take the fourth bedroom in their Brooklyn 4-bedroom apartment. We'd never thought about moving to New York before! It was always between either west coast or Denver, and the mountains won us over. But on a whim (a life-changing whim), we decided to take the fourth bedroom and move to New York. Rent would be way cheaper to take a bedroom in a shared apartment than to find a one-bedroom in Denver (oh how I miss spending only $416/month back in Savannah).

If you follow me on other social media platforms, you may know by now that New York has not been the kindest to me. We're in a very toxic love-hate relationship, and I often come home feeling bruised and battered by the harsh city streets. I had dreams of living out Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York," knowing that the lights would indeed be so bright but could never blind me (I was 22 so pls don't judge). Oh, New York, you are so different than what Alicia Keys told me.

So I have to find ways to cope with living in a city that I sometimes love and sometimes hate. To start with, you need a job you enjoy where you don't feel drained and miserable at 5pm every day, and you're not always "working for the weekend," (that's a bullshit mantra. I refuse to live happily only 2/7 days). You need a place to call your own- be it your apartment, your neighborhood, a local coffee joint. And you need a place to decompress and spread out.

And for me, that last place has become Maine. It's close enough for a weekend drive and my in-laws recently built a house up there, so it makes for a very convenient long weekend getaway. It has all of the things I love the most- mountains, rocks, water, and beer. So a few weekends ago, Zach and I loaded up the car (climbing gear in tow) and made the 6 hour drive north. (About 4 hours into the drive, we realized we forgot the Maine house key in New York, so there's that.) 

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We hiked and drank beer and tried to climb rocks and shopped and watched movies and took baths until my skin was pruney all over. There are so many cute fishing towns with adorable diners, quaint post offices, and coastal churches (where people literally row their boats to Sunday Service). There are lighthouses for days and incredible scenic views from mountaintops. 

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Oh and did I mention the beer? There are so many breweries. We only managed to hit the Maine Beer Company this time around (and only briefly), but we've also been to Allagash and a few smaller ones before. On our way back south, we drove through Portland to grab some vegan donuts for my sweet tooth and peeked out heads into a few small boutiques. There were so many cute shops, I didn't want to leave! But alas- New York was calling me home. Because as much as I hate this stupid city sometimes, I also don't know what I would do with myself if I didn't live here. Catch 22 I guess.

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Welcome to the blog!

Hey! If you’re here, you must know that I’ve started a blog. And if you didn’t know before- now you do! I wanted a place where I could go a little more in-depth about my latest photography endeavors! Instagram was getting a little cluttered, so I brought it over here.

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Kara in Colorado

If you’re new to my page, let me start by introducing myself! I’m Kara. I’m a photographer based in New York City with a love for people, traveling, climbing, hiking, kayaking, and eating lots of food. Lots. of. food. Originally from the Midwest (O-H-I-O!), I moved to Georgia to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design where I earned a B.F.A. in Photography. I did a few short months in Denver before finally calling the beautiful neighborhood of Astoria, Queens home! I live here with my husband and goldfish Raisin and together, we have a fun little shop called All Good Things. I love being involved in my community, so you’ll find me all over New York- tutoring students at a non-profit, swimming at Astoria Pool, babysitting future city slickers, teaching farming techniques at a local farm, or (most importantly) photographing the local families and small businesses in my city. I spend my days dreaming of the mountains and planning my next big getaway (usually involves a tent and some good hiking shoes).

If you have somebody or something that needs some good photography love, let me know by heading over to my contact page! If you just want to see what I’m up to lately or admire my latest work, follow along!