Are you going to travel solely based on food experiences?

UPDATED: This article was originally published in March 2019.

When it comes to booking any of my trips, I’d be lying if I claimed to be a strategic planner.

Sometimes my decision about where to go will be completely spontaneous. Other times, I’ll go wherever grabs 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 will always think about when I book a trip: the food.

Understandably, everyone’s sole reason for visiting a destination will be different. Some travelers will visit in search of cultural immersion, history, architecture, an active escape, or a mix of the above. For me, food is everything when you travel. So yes, you’re probably not surprised to hear my thoughts on traveling solely in search of food. But there is more to it than just the dish itself. From South Korea to Italylet’s dig deeper and find out why food experiences are far more meaningful than simply pleasing your taste buds.

A bowl of vegetables and spices set on top of a green tablecloth

A good meal is essential for your travels. Photo by Ben McNamara.

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 dishes and cuisines while learning about the world. Simply put; food is powerful. And behind every plate comes a story that can be conveyed without the need for words. It is the story of the origin of the dish combined with the story of the chef, which often involves a conglomeration of different subcultures. Sharing a plate of food is a way to enjoy authentic travel experiences, allowing you to sit back and enjoy with other like-minded travelers.

sharing food in Korea

Food is always best when shared. Photo by Ben McNamara.

Try this: A Buddhist monastery in South Korea might not jump out as the most obvious place for a unique food encounter, but hear us out. On a South Korea Real Food Adventurespend the night resting your head here while sipping on monastic cuisine because yes, that’s a thing, and watch 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 just as strong. Think about it: when you eat healthy, tasty and wholesome food, you feel good. When you travel, you feel good. So when you eat good food on the go, it’s a win-win for all parties involved. Whether you have any understanding of nutrition and dietetics or not, there is no doubt that food is good for the soul.

Two people making pasta in Italy

Learning how to make pasta in Italy is a typical experience. Photo by Cliff Bielawski.

Try this: On our Italy Real Food Adventure, you can tuck into a delicious locally sourced meal with cheeses, olives, salami and wine in Tuscany. Accompanied by two nights at an agriturismo farm stay, this experience is pure dolce vita – and may even be the highlight of the trip (a tough call, but we’ll do it).

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Food is best enjoyed with newfound friends

Enjoy your solo bowl with whatever you’re eating. But when it comes to reaching the heart of a destination, travel moments are best enjoyed by sharing a cup chai with Delhi localssticks in Iranian cuisine in a local family’s homeor baking baking Macedonian cakes in a village cooking class. Without food, these real experiences would not exist. And most importantly, you wouldn’t meet half the people you would when sharing a plate.

Two people share a cup of chai tea in India

A cup of chai is best enjoyed with newfound friends. Photo by Pravin Tamang.

Try this: In Oaxaca on a Mexico Real Food Adventure, you’ll explore the heart of pre-Hispanic cuisine while tasting chili, chocolate, mezcal and the surprisingly delicious chapulines (grasshoppers – just trust us). If you’ve ever wanted to ask how food, people and culture are connected, consider this your answer.

Hungry for more? Learn all about Intrepid’s selection of Real Food Adventures here.

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