Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Guest Post by Dan Matthews
There are numerous reasons why traveling tends to end up on most people’s bucket lists. Experiencing other cultures expands your worldview and broadens your horizons. In addition, the health benefits of travel to another country are scientifically proven. Traveling can lower stress levels, boost happiness, and enhance your creativity, according to NBC News.
Then, there’s the eclectic, location-specific cuisine to consider. Whether you’re planning an upcoming trip with help from a travel agent or are more spontaneous when it comes to exploring new places, food will be an integral part of the experience. In fact, food services are a huge source of revenue within the global tourism industry. In the United States in 2017, tourists shelled out $254 billion for food services, making it the nation’s third-highest grossing form of travel and tourism revenue, behind only lodging and air travel.
And in the realm of modern travel experiences, food has become much more than just simple sustenance that provides us with energy for sightseeing. Food-centric travel experiences range from fine dining to beer tastings and hands-on cooking workshops that are centered around local and regional fare.
The various formats of culinary tourism can vary significantly depending on location and even trends. For instance, when visiting a major metropolitan area, you can sign up for a themed food-centric city tour, or visit a vineyard or plantation where you can work alongside local farmers to plant or harvest crops. Regarding trends, fashionable culinary methods in recent years include herb-infused foods, plant-based main courses, and sustainable menu options.
Culinary tourism 101
Whatever your travel destination, one of your first moves should be to seek out a local guide for insider tips on everything from food options to saving money. Especially if it’s your inaugural visit to a particular country or region, dining out with a native guide makes for a solid introduction to local cuisine. Over an authentic meal, you'll also have the opportunity to learn more about local customs and pertinent laws in your host country.
Your culinary guide is likely also a prime source of information about attractions off the beaten path. In addition, he or she may be able to assist you in developing a greater understanding of local currency and customs surrounding tipping. For example, tipping is considered extremely rude in Japan, yet it’s expected in many instances across the United States.
Further, when you are traveling abroad, it’s in your best interest to have at least a slight grasp on monetary concepts, including currency exchange rates. Generally speaking, professionals known as remittance providers calculate currency cost for you, but possessing a basic knowledge of exchange rates can be useful, no matter where you're traveling. You can calculate the exchange rate of your native currency to a particular destination by simply dividing the two.
Merging “Grab and Go” with healthful culinary choices
In recent years, Americans have seen firsthand how organic food has saturated the culinary landscape. Choosing a vegan and/or gluten free diet is no longer seen as the exclusive domain of hippies or picky eaters. Instead, diets that primarily consist of fruits and vegetables are rapidly entering the mainstream, even popping up in roadside stands and fast food restaurants. Traveling often means that you’re grabbing a quick meal before sightseeing, but the good news is that a “grab and go” lifestyle doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
In fact, studies show that some of the world’s healthiest cuisines are those rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats such as seafood. Interestingly, the Mediterranean coast is home to a number of countries where nutritious cuisine is the norm and residents enjoy a high quality of life. Greece, Italy, Spain, and Lebanon all rank among the top destinations for foodies looking for a healthful and delicious culinary experience.
Cuisine that’s healthy and functional
Form and function co-exist in the realm of functional foods, a trend that’s poised to take off throughout the world. A functional food is one that has added ingredients that give that food an additional health benefit. Orange juice that’s fortified with calcium and/or Vitamin D is an example of a functional food.
Increasingly, herbal supplements are being added to menu items in kitchens across the world, from Manhattan to London and beyond. One supplement that’s making waves in the global culinary scene is CBD oil. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant, and it’s primarily used to treat anxiety, promote relaxation, and reduce body aches.
As cooking with CBD or hemp oil is a simple endeavor, the practice is increasing in popularity. CBD oil can be added to salad dressings and various condiments, but CBD-infused baked goods are favored in the culinary world. Baking helps to mask the taste of CBD oil, which can be bitter.
You'd be hard pressed to find a better method of truly experiencing the feel of a culture and global region than by eating local food. But today’s globetrotters are taking the culinary experience a step further — for many travelers, food is essentially their journey’s epoch. What could be more authentic than eating vinaigrette-soaked olives and feta in Greece, for instance, or sampling fresh seafood from a waterfront marketplace in Singapore? Contemporary foodies have more choices than ever when it comes to herbal-infused menu options and healthy ethnic cuisines that are convenient as well as delicious.
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.