Veg Jaunts And Journeys: Hassle-free Compassionate Tourism For Vegans

Since the age of seventeen, Kim Giovacco knew she wanted to be a travel agent. Fascinated by cultural diversity spanning the globe, Kim pursued a degree in geography which helped her to land a job with a map company in New Jersey. From there she moved on to oher positions within the industry; the Korean tourist office in New York and eighteen years as an office manager in Boston for a government agency tasked to create jobs in Singapore. This final position allowed her to travel throughout Asia, make international contacts, and expand her hands-on experience in travel and tourism.  During this period, Giovacco also served in a volunteer position on the board of a co-op and discovered new ways of doing things that were contrary to the perspective of the corporations and conglomerates of which she had long been a part. She adopted a vegan lifestyle and gradually came to the realization her values were no longer aligned with the work she was doing. From this understanding came the idea of starting her own company. Thus, Veg Jaunts and Journeys was born.

 

 

Kim began small by arranging vegan honeymoons and anniversary celebrations. She charged an hourly rate, researched the itineraries, and the clients would book the trips themselves. She naturally progressed to booking the entire travel arrangments for her clients. She got some training and learned how to do it. Since May of 2016, Kim Giovacco is living the dream she has harbored since her teens.

 

Kim Giovacco

The idea of creating tours evolved out of twenty-five years of traveling alone or with close friends. Giovacco always arranged her own trips rather than booking tours. She did this for two reasons: First, she didn’t want to pay the single supplement, which is essentially a fine for traveling alone. Organized tours are usually based on double occupancy, and singles are penalized. The extra fee can be anywhere between $500 to $1,000, depending on the length of the tour and the quality of the lodging. For cruise ships, the single rate can be double the price.  Secondly, on a standard cruise, vegan options are limited. While non-vegans have choices across the entire menu, if you are plant-based, there may only be one or two options from which to choose. Why pay all that money for food and be limited to one or two items? Kim saw a vacuum that needed to be filled.

 

 

When Kim created Veg Jaunts and Journeys, she had the single, vegan client in mind. Of course, couples are also encouraged to participate, but there are no penalties for traveling alone, and the dining venue is always vegan or vegetarian. The rare vegetarian restaurant on the tour itinerary will always offer a wide range of vegan options. Kim scopes out plant-based restaurants around the globe, and as the world rapidly becomes more vegan-friendly, opportunities abound for the plant-based traveler. “In the tour I took to Berlin in August, we were there for eight days, and only ate at vegan restaurants. I think we didn’t even get to 25% of them, that’s how many there are there. And pretty much every mainstream restaurant we passed had a sign outside that read vegan options available.”

 

 

Vegan restaurants are evolving from the fast-food type of comfort food to healthier options, and Kim consults with her clients as to the types of food they prefer before booking restaurant venues. Her tours tend to be small and intimate, from six to twelve people. Another interesting aspect of her service is that she doesn’t necessarily travel to the typical touristy spots. Giavocco takes her clients to visit rooftop gardens, tea manufacturers, on walking tours, to visit markets and vegan festivals and on green tours related to eco-tourism, to name a few.

 

Brewery in Berlin

Lodging is usually arranged in residential areas where vegan restaurants are more likely to be located. The group takes subways and local transit for a ten to fifteen-minute ride into the cities. This gives the traveler a more authentic experience of the country they are visiting rather than exposing them to one tourist site after another. If one has an interest in these sites, there is an entire unscheduled day where the client can choose to split from the group and explore on his/her own. Kim helps them with maps and directions and they will usually meet up later at a designated restaurant or hotel. The small groups tend to stick together, however, and form bonds of friendship by the tour’s end.

 

 

Veg Jaunts and Journeys is not limited to overseas travel. Kim Giovacco is also busy putting together itineraries within the United States. Some of these tours are close to her and her partner’s new home in Asheville, North Carolina where she is becoming familiar a presence in the thriving Asheville vegan scene. She has recently been asked to join the board of the Asheville Vegan Society. Kim is collaborating with another company to offer vegan tours to animal sanctuaries, vegan restaurants, local breweries, and nature trails in and around Asheville.

 

 

Asheville is a hub for vegan markets, restaurants, festivals, and animal groups that draws people from neighboring states that have not yet awakened to the needs of their burgeoning plant-based population. These plans are still in the organizational phase, so be sure to subscribe to  Veg Jaunts and Journeys to be apprised of new tours as they are created.

 

 

Europe is way ahead of the United States in fully embracing the social imperatives of the vegan movement and where veganism has become more mainstream. In the United States, this movement is still in its infancy. Giovacco arranges many of her tours to catch some of the most interesting vegfests in the country with speakers that draw a large audience. She handles the schedule, the travel arrangements, restaurants, and lodging, so all you have to concentrate on is having a great time!

Whether you are thinking of traveling overseas to exotic locations like East Berlin, Bucharest, Vienna, or Prague or stateside to Nashville, New York, Boston or New Orleans, vegan travel has never been easier nor more accommodating. Never again will you have to pick at a salad while everyone else is enjoying the bounty of a full menu.

 

 

Traveling alone or with a group, Veg Jaunts and Journeys will help you create a hassle-free vacation that is designed with your needs in mind. Contact Kim Giovacco at Veg Jaunts and Journeys for more information.

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About!, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles, and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is the author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” and is a co-founder of the plant-based cooking blog, Time For Change Kitchen. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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