Overcoming food challenges, maximizing enjoyment
For me, travel and food go together like camping and marshmallows. One without the other is simply not done. Trouble is, I often find myself traveling with people who either don’t enjoy food the way I do (mind, body and soul) or struggle with food challenges that hinder their enjoyment.
If you find yourself traveling with someone who appreciates food differently than you, don’t let it dampen your travel adventures. A few simple tricks can help you both relish your unique food choices with full and heady abandon.
Which of these noshing categories do you and your travel companions fit into?
The puritan foodie
The puritan is the gal who hits the gym by 5 am every morning with a pre-ordered green goddess delight smoothie for afterward. If you want to keep your calorie count in check while traveling, the puritan foodie will sniff out the most nutritious meals available. Dining out with her can be a challenge though. She rarely orders off the menu, often demanding customization, whether it’s soy milk instead of cream or salad instead of rice.
Satisfy the puritan: Luckily larger hotels and resorts offer healthy alternatives alongside their traditional offering. If you’re staying at a B&B or small inn, request your healthy choices at time of booking. We also suggest brushing up on your healthy food choices for lazy travelers.
The vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or lactose-intolerant foodie
I fit into the vegetarian mode (voluntarily) but many people suffer from allergies or intolerances that must be adhered to at every meal. It can be a struggle traveling with someone suffering from a life-threatening allergy so every restaurant and meal will need to be carefully considered. You can strike street-food off your list but on the upside, you’ll learn a lot about how menu options can be tweaked – and sometimes taste better because of it.
Satisfy the vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or lactose-intolerant foodie: Food allergies and intolerances are accommodated more today than ever. Before leaving home, search the specific food challenge with the name of the city and the word restaurant, such as “vegetarian restaurant, Toronto” or “gluten free restaurant San Francisco.” Once you’ve found a couple you like, check them out on TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon or Yelp to see what other diners have to say.
The hedonist foodie
If you worship at the altar of food nirvana, this is the best kind of foodie to snag as a travel companion. She flings open the door on taboo, embracing gastronomic adventure with every morsel that lands in her mouth. But dining with her can be a challenge if you’re rushed for time or are staying at a resort – there’s no such thing as “comfort food” in her vocabulary. Every meal will be an adventure.
Satisfy the hedonist: With the hedonist, hunt down hidden local joints that capture the flavor and vibe of your destination. Go beyond the concierge and ask the person who serves you coffee or your morning paper. Get outside and walk the neighborhood, chatting up store vendors (think mom and pop stores, not Wal-Mart). If you’re rushed for time, do your research online before you leave home so you have at least one unique restaurant to offer. Sites like LonelyPlanet.com, Frommers.com and Fodors.com can help you find reliable reviews on off-the-beaten-path gems.
The Chef Ramsay foodie
Hell hath no fury like an underwhelmed foodie. While this gal may have taste buds that would make Chef Ramsay drool, she can be downright challenging as a travel companion. Prepare yourself for food sent back to the kitchen (multiple times) and meals spent discussing the intricacies of the amuse bouche (chef prepared offerings between courses). On the upside, you’ll probably visit the best restaurants and may even get a private tour of the kitchen and/or wine or cellar or get to meet the chef while dining.
Satisfy the chef: The good news is that she’ll likely take charge and plan your meals. While you’ll have to add buffer time around your meals, you can sit back, relax and nosh all the glorious offerings presented to you. Enjoy!
The non-foodie or picky eater
For me, this is the most challenging foodie to choose as a travel companion. S/he sees food as functional and often has a limited food vocabulary. While you may be craving a zest of local, she’ll be craving brand-name restaurants with bland menu selections. The good news is that meals will be quick and to the point, leaving more time for exploring.
Satisfy the non-foodie: Doing your research before you leave home is a must but starting the “let’s compromise” conversation early is equally important. If food is important to you, negotiate which meals will be yours and which you’re willing concede to her. If you’re an avid wine drinker and love a 3-hour dinner but not so keen on over-sized breakfasts, come to an agreement before you leave home so you’re both satisfied while traveling.