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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.

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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!

Pre-Order Gro­ceries

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!

For Sight­see­ing

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.