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Quick question; what circumstance can completely ruin your enjoyment of an otherwise excellent vacation, and guarantee that you miss out on a good deal of the joy, energy, and enthusiasm you could have otherwise enjoyed while exploring a new culture?
There are, of course, all sorts of things ranging from relatively minor to incredibly severe, which could have this effect. One of the most common problems, however, is simply not managing to stay well-fed throughout the trip, for various different reasons.
It may seem like a silly thing to complain about, but not getting your three square meals a day while travelling can really have an immense dampening effect on the entire experience. Don’t underestimate the degree to which food can affect your well-being, not only in the sense of being able to enjoy delicious local cuisine, but also in the sense of just having enough to eat, in general.
Here are some tips for staying well-fed while travelling, so that this issue hopefully doesn’t befall you.
Setup your home base in an area where all the amenities are easily accessible
Hunger while travelling often happens as the result of certain vacation or travel formats, particularly backpacking. If you’re constantly on the move, with few supplies, and only a vague sense of what amenities will be available in the next location you stop at, it should hardly come as a surprise if you find yourself chronically hungry and unable to enjoy reliably timed, filling, and tasty meals.
Keeping this in mind, one of the best things you can do in order to ensure that you remain well-fed while on vacation, is to take a more “settled” approach to your trip, meaning that you stay in one central location, and do your day trips and so on from that central location.
Setting up your “home base” in an area where all of the amenities are easily accessible both makes it easier for you to grab snacks on the go, but also for you to buy ingredients and do some cooking in your accommodation itself.
HDB Tampines is, for example, the largest “HDB” estate in all of Singapore. HDB estates house the vast majority of Singaporeans, and feature shopping and entertainment facilities in addition to the accommodation itself.
Staying in an HDB estate, such as the one at Tampines would, therefore, go a long way towards helping you stay properly nourished while enjoying the country.
Supplement your restaurant experiences with meals you cook for yourself using local cookbooks
This ties in with the previous point, but it may be the case that it’s not financially viable for you to eat at a restaurant three times a day for the entirety of your stay, but nonetheless want to not only stay well fed, but in indulge in delicious local cuisine throughout the duration of your stay, as well.
Assuming you are, in fact, staying in accommodation where your own kitchen facilities will be made available to you, in addition to having access to nearby shops, you can supplement your restaurant experiences with meals you cook for yourself, using cookbooks focused around the local cuisine.
Needless to say, the skills and insight you acquire from preparing local recipes on your trip, will carry over so that you return home with an expanded knowledge of different delicious cultural dishes to use at your discretion.
Don’t only eat the local foods that seem “familiar”, be daring
Sometimes, you may be under-eating, or at least, passing up on trying some delicious local delicacies, because you are reluctant to try some of the more “exotic” dishes that are presented to you.
It’s natural for people to be reluctant to try foods that are alien to them, and to stick with what feels familiar wherever possible, but there are a few good reasons why you might want to alter your policy towards novel dishes while travelling abroad.
The first, and perhaps most obvious reason, is because while you are travelling, you have a unique opportunity to experience the cultures of different places, and should take advantage of the opportunity in as many ways as you reasonably can, including by trying the local cuisine.
Of course, it’s also the case that you may find it very difficult to find your usual meal of choice when overseas, and may struggle to stay well-fed if you scorn the local dishes, as a result.
Finally, refusing to try the unfamiliar food may rob you of the opportunity to try dishes that you would genuinely find delicious if only you gave them a chance.
You should, of course, be mindful of not doing anything which would have a negative effect on your health, or violate your ethical standards, but you should still err in favour of trying the unfamiliar food whenever you can.
Research culinary guides to your destination, so that you can be sure that you’ll only dine at worthy establishments
There are many great culinary guides on offer which allow you to get a good sense of the kinds of places you should go during your travels to get the best possible meals.
Guides can include anything from walking “culinary tours” of a particular city, to a highlight reel of the top cafes in a given area, or a “top 10” of the best cultural dishes to be found in a country, along with some information on where you should go in order to enjoy said dishes.
Guides will also frequently include tips on things like where to find the best street food, how to eat well on a budget, and how to stay well-fed in general, all else being equal.
As any trip you take into a new country will, for all intents and purposes, be a venture out into the unknown, it will be more than worth your while to investigate the top culinary and travel guides you can identify, research them, and take their advice to heart.
After all, food at least as much of a cultural experience as visiting a museum is.