UPDATED: This article was originally published in March 2019.
When it comes to booking any of my travels, I’d be lying if I claimed to be a strategic planner.
Sometimes, my decision of where to go next will be totally spontaneous. Other times, I’ll go wherever captures my attention that week (most recently it was Nepal, thanks for asking), or jump on a recommendation from a trusted friend. But one thing that I’ll always think about when booking a trip: the food.
Understandably, the sole reason for visiting a destination for everyone will differ. Some travellers will visit in search of cultural immersion, history, architecture, an active escape or a mix of the above. For me, food is everything when travelling. So yes, you’re probably not surprised to hear my thoughts that you should travel solely in search of food. But, there’s more to it than just the dish itself. From South Korea to Italy, let’s dig deeper and find out why food experiences are far more meaningful than just pleasing your taste buds.
Food is a language everyone understands
Aside from some physical language barriers, eating and sharing food is a universally accepted practice across many cultures. Wherever you are in the world, it’s a way to interact, and exchange culture through different plates and cuisines while learning about the world. Put simply; food is powerful. And behind every plate, comes a story that can be communicated without the need for words. It’s the story of the origins of the dish, combined with the story of the chef, which often involves a conglomeration of different subculture. Through sharing a plate of food, it’s a way to enjoy authentic travel experiences so you can sit back and enjoy with other like-minded travellers.
Try this: A Buddhist monastery in South Korea might not jump out as the most obvious spot for a unique food encounter, but hear us out. On a South Korea Real Food Adventure, spend the night resting your head here while nibbling on monastic cuisine because yes, it’s a thing, and watching traditional rituals and practices such as martial arts-style meditation to complete the experience.
Food is good for the soul
Food and travel go hand in hand, and the connection between food and wellness is equally as strong. Think about it: when you eat wholesome, tasty and healthy food, you feel good. When you travel, you feel good. So, when you eat good food on the road, it’s a win-win for all parties involved. Whether you have any understanding of nutrition and dietetics or not, there’s no denying that food is good for the soul.
Try this: On our Italy Real Food Adventure, you can tuck into a delicious locally sourced meal of cheeses, olives, salami and wine in Tuscany. Accompanied by two nights at an agriturismo farmstay, this experience is pure dolce vita — and might even be the highlight of the trip (a tough call, but we’ll make it).
Food is best enjoyed with new-found friends
Enjoy your solo bowl of whatever-it-is you’re eating. But when it comes down to reaching the heart of a destination, travel moments are best enjoyed by sharing a cup of chai with locals in Delhi, tucking into Iranian cuisine at a local family’s home, or baking baking Macedonian pastries in a village cooking class. Without food, these real-life experiences wouldn’t exist. And most importantly, you wouldn’t meet half the people as you would when sharing a plate.
Try this: In Oaxaca on a Mexico Real Food Adventure, you’ll explore the heart of pre-Hispanic cuisine, as you taste chiles, chocolate, mezcal and the surprisingly delicious chapulines (grasshoppers — just trust us). If you ever wanted to question how food, people and culture intertwine, consider this your answer.
Hungry for more? Learn all about Intrepid’s range of Real Food Adventures here.