Know how to find something familiar, but don’t shy away from the unknown.
One of the greatest appeals of today’s society is how easy it is to travel. Sure, there’s a bucket load of paperwork and security, but you can be across the globe in half a day. While traveling can be a brilliant experience, it can be difficult to step into the unknown. For some people, it’s a good idea to get one’s feet wet before taking the globetrotter path.
One of the vast differences between countries is food. Take America as an example – how many other countries eat pickles? However, there are some chains that have broken the borders and exist in multiple areas. Sometimes they operate under different names (who in Russia wants to eat chicken fried in Kentucky?) but offer the same experience and atmosphere.
If you’re thinking about wading into the traveler’s path, take a look at some of your favorite restaurants and where their locations stretch. Nando’s, for instance, started in South Africa. Several restaurants are shared with the US, and many UK-based operations have spread into multiple countries as well. If you ensure the existence of food you know, then it will be easier to try what you don’t –nothing inspires bravery like having a backup plan.
A quick look into your favorite eateries will reveal who has international locations. Many list the locations on their website, but when that fails there is always Wikipedia and Google. Just a quick type of the restaurant’s name and the country can garner results.
Some chains stretch into familiar waters, but others jump all the way across the pond. Picking a travel destination with hints of home is a good way for the wary wanderer to prepare for bigger jumps – first step, UK to US, next step, the jungle! (OK, maybe that’s a stretch.)
Make sure you research where you are traveling. Some countries cannot drink water from their own tap – they have to drink water and make ice from bottled water. Also, some travelers have trouble with “regional bacteria” in food. Probiotics are a great way to help your system adjust to foreign food, even if it is familiar.
Traveling to different countries can be a wonderful experience. Some globetrotters just need to take smaller steps than others. Even the small step of plotting familiar eating joints can lead to surprises.
There was once a group of US students who flew to Russia to act as ESL tutors—to help with culture shock, the leaders encouraged the group to eat most of their meals at the Russian version of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken in between sampling a few Turkish restaurants and local establishments. Even eating at the familiar brands had surprising twists, however. For instance, the KFC had healthier alternatives and wraps, and the McDonald’s didn’t serve pickles; instead, there were cucumbers on the burgers.
Don’t let familiarity keep you away from the unknown. Another idea to prepare for travel is to find a local place that serves exotic foods. Yo! Sushi can give you a taste of Japan; Bella Italia can give you a taste of Italy. You might even find a new favorite in the process.
Happy travels and, more importantly, happy eating.