If you keep kosher, planning a trip requires more than making transportation and sleeping arrangements. It also requires meal planning, especially if you are going to an exotic destination. But with a little preparation, you can enjoy any trip on a full belly. Here are our tips for keeping kosher on the road:
1. Find the kosher hotels and restaurants. If you want to eat prepared meals on your trip, then perhaps the easiest option is to seek out a vacation at a kosher resort or on a kosher cruise. There you will be fed three kosher meals per day and have nothing else to plan. But even if you’re staying at a regular hotel, there may be kosher meal options — you can find out by calling the hotel and asking. If you don’t necessarily want to eat where you sleep, use a kosher restaurant directory or app (for example: KosherNearMe or Kosher GPS) or even a Facebook group to find the kosher restaurants nearest your destination.
2. Look for vegetarian and vegan options. Some Jews who generally eat only kosher-certified food will eat at a non-certified establishment but only eat foods that contains dairy and pareve ingredients. Others will only eat out at strictly vegetarian or vegan restaurants that do not have kosher certification. Consider if one of these is a comfortable option for you, and if so, plan a meatless vacation.
3. Cook your own meals. You can do a lot with a small refrigerator and a single burner or a microwave. Consider renting a hotel room or apartment that has some cooking appliances, and plan to cook your own food. You can kasher (make kosher) the microwave or oven and then use it to cook your own meals. We recommend bringing your own basic kitchen supplies, including a thin cutting board, two knives (for dairy and meat), scrubbing sponges, a can opener, a frying pan, and a sauce pan. Check out YouTube for “dorm room cooking” videos that offer inspiration for preparing all kinds of delicious and filling meals with minimal equipment.
4. Pack your own snacks. If you think it might be difficult to rustle up three kosher meals a day, pack yourself some very filling snacks. Think like a hiker: protein and granola bars, dried fruits, cured meats, and nuts all pack a lot of calories in a small amount of space and weight, and don’t require refrigeration. When you get to your destination, you can supplement with fresh fruit (always kosher).
5. Know what certification markings to look for in the country you are visiting. Not all countries have the same certification agencies or markings. This website can help you get started with your research. And if you’re traveling to the United Kingdom, you should know that kosher food has no special markings, but a master list of kosher foods will let you know which are certified.
6. Know what foods don’t require kosher certification. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always kosher and do not require certification, as are dried beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains — provided they are unprocessed. Fish can also be purchased without a kosher certification, as long as it is a type of fish that is kosher. Some processed foods, such as cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and fresh unflavored orange juice and ordinary cow’s milk, also do not require certification. This list is a useful guide.
7. Seek out local Jewish communities. These folks will know where to purchase kosher food, in either a supermarket or restaurant. And you just might find yourself with an invitation to someone’s home for dinner.