I’m excited to introduce Alexandria from A Modern Girl’s Travels to the blog today with some awesome tips for international travel!
Food, It’s what fuels us. I have been a food lover from the beginning — as a child there was nothing I wouldn’t eat. Vegetables: I was obsessed. Beets are still my favorite. Collard greens? They’re delicious. There was nothing I wouldn’t try… until I traveled out of my comfort zone and had no idea what I was eating.
You see, my palate had been created by American food. Food that is very different from that around the world.
I have now visited 18 countries and I’ve tried many different cuisines, so I’ve picked up a few tips and advice over time. Here’s what to expect when dining abroad:
Be respectful. It is okay to ask questions about what you are eating but don’t ask in a judgmental way. While in Italy, I chose to do a food tour around Rome and there was a very rude family that was part of our tour. They refused to try just about everything. They didn’t like garlic, the consistency wasn’t what they wanted, or the flavor they wanted was gone. These two made a huge deal out of everything and offended a lot of people along the way. You still have the right not to eat things that you do not want to experience. Just learn to politely decline.
Leave expectations behind. You can imagine that my first meal abroad was a bit of a shock for me. Where was all the starch? These are not fries, these are chips!
Just know that whatever you anticipate might be wrong. For example, spaghetti in America is be completely different from how they do spaghetti in Italy. In fact, the Italians did not even invent spaghetti. Garlic bread is not a thing there. Don’t expect it. Some experiences may not be what you hoped for, and others may shock you.
Your best bet is to throw aside all your assumptions about what you’ll find to eat. The second that you let go of your expectations is the second that you can start immersing yourself in a new experience, and start finding food that you do enjoy.
Be adventurous. You have to get out of your comfort zone. There are various ways to do this. On every trip I like to take a cooking course and shop in the local markets.
Cooking classes help you immerse yourself in their culture and tastes. It teaches you how they prepare their food and give you a great recipe to bring home later.
Go to the local grocery store or market and pick up ingredients to throw things together for yourself. I personally love to go and find their off-brand cookies. They’re always delicious!
While you’re at it, follow your sweet tooth, and you never know what you’ll find. You won’t regret it! Plus you’ll be able to try so many different types of sweets that you won’t easily find at home.
Overall, just enjoy yourself. Treasure the meals that you get to experience. You may find new foods that you love, and once you get home they’ll be almost impossible to find. Even if you do find your new favorite dish, chances are it won’t taste the same. That’s because American ingredients taste different — even our water tastes different — and all of those factors make a difference.
Drink up! You should start out knowing that alcohol and soda will more than likely be cheaper than water. On top of that news, don’t expect anything to taste similar to how you have it at home. Water is filtered and purified differently and comes from other sources. (It’s also a good idea to look up whether it’s safe to drink tap water. Sometimes bottled water is recommended.) Soda is made with more or less sugar, along with different flavors of syrups. On top of all of this, you should know that every country has a different drink of choice, like sparkling water or a particular beer or wine.
Do research. Every country is different, so it’s worth doing some research beforehand. It’s important to know that every country has different rules for tipping — you can find information on that here. Another example would be that in France there is a difference between a cafe and a restaurant. A restaurant is a nicer and far more expensive establishment!)
What food did you enjoy or not enjoy on a trip?
Alexandria is a blogger, reader, collector of animals, and wife to Edward. Her life revolves around non-profit work, dreaming of her next vacations, and planning her move abroad. You can vacation with her by following her on Instagram, or stop by her blog A Modern Girl’s Travels.