How to Keep Kosher on a Trip
“Keeping kosher” means eating in accordance with the Biblical and Rabbinical laws. This includes refraining from eating animals which do not chew the cud and have completely cloven hooves, such as a pig, horse, dog, rat or cat. Seafood is not kosher, apart from fish with fins and scales. Additionally, meat from a listed kosher animal must undergo slaughter (shechitah) in accordance with the Jewish Law and then be rendered kosher by soaking and salting, again, in accordance with the Jewish Law.
Additionally, Jews are prohibited from eating kosher animal milk products (from cows and goats, for example), together with kosher meat products.
Rabbinical supervision is required on all meat, wine and many other food and beverage products. Depending on one’s custom, the national or local rabbinical supervision may suffice. Some Jews require the meat to be “without-a-doubt” (Glatt) or require specific high-level kosher certification (sometimes known as Mehadrin, Bedatz or Kedassia) and order “special kosher” meals on flights.
It is always more difficult to keep kosher away from home than in one’s own locality. Many trips abroad are planned and known long in advance of the travel date. Other trips, suddenly arise due to unforeseen circumstances. The National and International laws of importing foods and beverages have tightened up significantly, so one cannot normally take much food or any beverages in one’s hand luggage.
Some hotels provide a service of flight meals, ordered in advance –so you can book a kosher or special kosher closed meal pack. These can be lifesavers, particularly when stuck in a hotel room at a remote location on a winter’s night-ask your travel agent or flight provider. Additionally, there are numerous tour providers/travel agents/kosher cruise providers, who can provide you with up-to-date information. There are some international books and guides published, such as The Jewish Travel Guide- see http://www.kashrut.com/travel/travelbooks/-
One can keep a copy in one’s hand luggage and then make reservations and inquiries in the one-three hours’ wait after checking in.
It’s always a good idea, if permissible, to take along some food in one’s suitcase. My favorites are flat pack tuna tins, gefilte fish, crackers and cakes. In some countries, one can buy tinned kosher sausages and meatballs. Don’t forget your tin opener!!!
Before the internet age, it was much more difficult to keep kosher, as one could not easily obtain information on the location and opening hours of kosher shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Today, one can access information on one’s smartphone or laptop, or just use a hotel lobby/internet café computer.
Here is a one-page-kosher-survival-list of links:
- Lubavitch- Chabad website:
- Lubavitch- Chabad locator link
- World listing of kosher restaurants
- London Beth Din Listing of Kosher products
You can find listings of food products and nosh (candies) and download pdfs from the site.
- Cool cell-phone apps for finding the nearest kosher establishments
- The OK kosher website- on this page there are two apps links
- Keeping Kosher in Russia
- Keeping Kosher in Asia
Don’t forget your cellphone/laptop charger and an international plug so that you can remain online and kosher!!!
Bon voyage and נסיעה טובה ובטוחה!
Also, when taking off- please use the link to the traveler’s prayer English transliteration and Hebrew: