How To Keep Kosher While Traveling Internationally
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or you’re about to soar through the sky for the first time, let’s get down to the important stuff … food! As a Jewish mom of four, preparing for international travel isn’t just Googling local attractions and making sure everyone packed enough underwear — it’s also creating a detailed meal plan.
Keeping kosher means you can’t just swing by any local eatery and grab a quick bite. But here’s the good news: with a little planning, keeping kosher doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some of my top tips for keeping kosher while traveling.
For The Flight
Pack Your Own Snacks
Before your flight, stock up on bites that you can easily get through airport security. I usually pack seaweed crisps, spiced almonds, trail mixes, gluten-free muffins, veggie sticks, and better-for-you protein bars— lately, I’ve been obsessed with the plant-based bars from Orgain.
For a more filling snack, I keep canned sardines and even a full salad in my carry-on bag. If you load your salad ingredients into a Ziploc bag and then keep your dressing in a little cup on the side — in your liquids bag,so you don’t get stopped in security— you’ll have a healthy snack within arm’s reach. When you’re ready to munch, pour the dressing into the bag and give it a good shake!
Kosher Airplane Meal Alternatives
Yes, airplanes do offer kosher meals. But, the kosher meal isn’t your only option. I’ll often order the raw option. You can order a raw meal that’s chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
You could top the raw meal with a packed can of tuna too, however, be warned —cracking open canned fish at 30,000 feet up in the sky isn’t the best way to become besties with your airplane neighbor. But you’ll feel satisfied!
Another snack suggestion: pack some instant miso soups in your carry-on luggage. You’ll just need to ask the stewardess for a large coffee cup and some hot water — voilà, a warm meal in no time.
For Your Stay
Pre-Order Cookware from Amazon
Whether you’re renting an Airbnb or staying in a hotel, you’ll need to think about cookware. A few days before a big trip, my husband and I usually order a cheap pot and omelet pan straight to our home-away-from-home, so it’s ready for us when we arrive. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping, making it super convenient. Do a cost assessment analyzing eating out versus spending on cookware and ingredients; alternatively, considering bringing cookware along if you have space available.
If we’re staying in an Airbnb, I’ll cook as I would at home. But, if we’re staying at a hotel then I work closely with the food services on location. Some advice: before you arrive, speak with someone who works in the kitchen to explain your mealtime needs and let them know you’ll be bringing special cookware. When you arrive, remind them of your restrictions and ask if they have any questions. Teamwork makes the kosher dream-work!
If you plan to cook your own meals, pre-order groceries and have them shipped to your temporary home the day you arrive. I’ve done this for years! There are plenty of websites you can use, like iHerb or Amazon. It’s also possible to research grocery stories beforehand and see what is available where you’re going.
Pre-Order Meats from a Kosher Website
Depending on where you’re visiting, you can usually pre-order kosher meats straight to your Airbnb. Check out Grow and Behold or KOL — they’re my go-to places since they offer high-quality, grass-fed meats. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll bring frozen meat in my suitcase — not a bad option if you have the space and you’re a carnivore!
Hotel Life? Ask for a Refrigerator In Your Room
Whether you’re trying to store groceries or looking to keep leftovers fresh, having a refrigerator in your room is a huge plus. When you book your hotel, ask the front desk staff if your room comes with a mini-fridge. If not, they may be able to make accommodations for you. I stock my fridge with hummus, olives, berries, and cut crudités so we snack well!
Bring Snacks in Ziploc Bags
So, you’ve traveled halfway around the world, and now you want to explore the sights. With all that walking, you bet your stomach will start growling at some point. I pack large bags of nuts, seeds, and crackers in my suitcase plus some Ziploc bags so I can portion out the days treats. If you’re visiting somewhere hot, avoid chocolates and other goodies than can melt.
For Dining Out
Do Your Research Before Your Trip
Before you even board your flight, do a quick Google search and find a few nearby kosher restaurants. Many eateries have a basic garden salad, but, there are plenty of kosher restaurants that will offer a more robust menu and know your exact needs.
Translate Kosher-Friendly Food Names & Keep a List Handy
My husband was recently in Tokyo for work and wanted to indulge in some sashimi. He had someone translate and write down the kosher dishes so when he got to the restaurant, he just had to hand the chef his order! Local JCC’s often also have a list of kosher fishes or list out kosher options — use them as a resource. This is a great trick if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t know the language. And now you’re off on your kosher adventure!
Nealy Fischer is the founder of The Flexible Chef. Throughout her career as a celebrated wellness entrepreneur and yoga teacher, she’s inspired people to live their most extraordinary lives. Her popular cooking videos have attracted a loyal following and her craveable recipes are regularly featured across print and online media. Together with her husband and four kids, she splits her time between Hong Kong, Israel, and Montana.