Eating Well On The Road: 6 Tips For Vacation Dining
Food is central to our experience of place, whether it’s comfort food like your mother cooks at home or regional cuisine from some far-off corner of the globe. That’s why when we travel, we typically seek out exciting new culinary experiences. So how can you get the most enjoyment out of local culinary delights? These six simple tips will have you eating like a local – with no stomach upset – no matter where your travels take you. Bon Appetit!
One common mistake that people make when traveling to a new place is that they forget to give their body time to adjust. If you’re changing time zones or countries, dive into the scene slowly. That means skipping street food for the first few days, eating light meals, and avoiding anything too spicy, fatty, or acidic that might cause stomach upset. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Know Your Destination
Traveling for food is popular these days, so when you hit the road, it’s important to recognize whether you’re headed to a foodie city or somewhere a little further off the map. Foodie destinations can require some planning, but they’re overflowing with choices.
Some food cities are obvious, such as Paris and Bordeaux in France or Bologna and Modena in Italy, while others are less obvious choices but have just as much to offer. In Bologna, don’t miss a chance to tour a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory and taste authentic Parmesan cheese. With a complex, aged flavor, you’ll never think about this culinary staple the same way again. In other cities, research the hottest spots on the food scene, from restaurants to regional specialties, and schedule a tour, a table, or a pit stop as suits your destination.
Set A Budget
Some food destinations and culinary experiences are more expensive than others. If you want to tour the Tequila Valley in Guadalajara, Mexico, you’ll find it to be much more affordable than drinking wine in Bordeaux. Similarly, booking a table at a Michelin starred restaurant will cost much more than enjoying street food in Thailand or Delhi. The goal of setting a budget is to determine what you can afford to do and how to structure your itinerary so that you don’t miss out on unique opportunities.
Take A Break
One of the best things about making food a central part of your trip is that you can enjoy it in small bites. While a museum, cathedral tour, or amusement park might take hours, you can stop and enjoy a cappuccino at a café, a small pastry, or a snack of chickpeas, a paleta, or elotes while you stroll through the city. That being said, all that eating and exploring can be exhausting, and sometimes you just want to spend a night in your room. On those evenings, go ahead and enjoy the food at your hotel’s restaurant. Hotel restaurants are typically designed to cater to a wide audience. It’s just a bonus that you get to turn in early if you stay on-site to eat.
Know Your Street Food
Street food is a huge part of global culture, but many people are hesitant to eat it because they’re worried about hygiene. Luckily, street food is mostly very safe, and if the stand is crowded, you can be sure it’s a good bet. On the other hand, if locals are avoiding a stand, you should avoid it to.
It’s also important to hold different standards for cooked foods versus produce. Want fresh juice? Skip the stand with jugs and make sure they press it in front of you. That pre-sliced fruit look good? It may have been cleaned with water that’s less-than-safe to drink. For once, you’re safer with deep-fried treats than nature’s bounty.
Get Off The Path
Finally, while everyone may be dining in Paris or Tokyo, if you’re a committed foodie, don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and check out some up and coming food towns. For example, Zurich, Switzerland is making a name in biodynamic wines, sourdough, and other artisanal foods. And while Filipino food is breaking out on in the states, Manila has extraordinary street food, and you need to go there if you’re going to enjoy it.
Whether you’re planning your vacation specifically to enjoy the regional cuisine or simply fulfilling the biological imperative to eat while touring the world’s cultural landmarks, enjoying local favorites is a surefire way to feel confident that you don’t miss out on the most delicious fare on offer. Take a risk and try something new. Even the most unfamiliar delicacies may pleasantly surprise you.