How to Travel as a Picky Eater

It’s a bad habit – I’m not proud of it. Growing up in rural Iowa, I am not exposed to very many types of cuisines, mostly just what you’d imagine a stereotypical Midwesterner eating. So over the years, I’ve claimed myself as a very picky eater. I don’t like anything green, anything too spicy, anything that used to live underwater and for some reason, food is the one thing I will not get risky with. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me, and don’t worry, I hate it just as much as you do. But I’m sure there are people just like me, and that’s why I’m taking the chance and writing a post about it.

My first time out of the country was to Southeast Asia. As you can imagine, I was way out of my food comfort zone. I hadn’t even tried Asian food at that point. Not even Sweet and Sour Chicken. Nothing. Plus, I hate vegetables, seafood and anything too spicy, so I was in quite the pickle.
So here’s what I’ve done when it comes to food while traveling:

– Find what you love and go crazy.
The shining light in Thailand was my love for fruit. There isn’t a fruit I’ve tried that I didn’t like. Thailand is full of some of the freshest fruits there is – especially mango. So, I survived on mango and whatever other fruits were thrown my way, especially because it was all so cheap.

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Rambutan (the red spiky balls) peel open and taste similar to grapes!

 

– At least try some things, yeah?
I’m bad at this – when I’m at home, I don’t stray far from what I know. However, when I was in Thailand, a few of the meals were provided, and I decided I had to try to eat them. I ended up really liking one! So it won’t always go bad.

 

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The meal I loved – still not sure what it was, but it was good!

– There’s always “comfort food.”
McDonald’s are found all around the world. As are KFCs, Pizza Huts, etc. If you’re really, really struggling, you can at least get a burger. But remember, this is only if you’re really, really struggling. (Although, it is interesting to see what other countries have on their fast food menus. Dairy Queen had mango ice cream! We had to try that.)

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The only two sizes of mashed potato bowls at a Thai KFC… not really a happy medium!

– Plan ahead.
I knew going into it I wasn’t going to like a lot of the food in Thailand, because I know myself well. So I packed granola bars, fruit snacks, etc. that wouldn’t take up room in my suitcase but would at least keep me sustained as needed.

Looking back, I wish I would have tried more, so I advise any picky eaters to do the same. Food is cheap in Thailand, especially from street vendors or markets, so might as well try it. (Speaking of, the street vendor outside our dorm in Bangkok had this incredible corn cup. Don’t know what exactly was in it, but it worked for a Midwesterner like myself!)

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Street vendor food in Bangkok
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Breakfast one morning in Bangkok
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One girl was brave enough to try grasshoppers!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice about picky eating while traveling in Europe. I didn’t have much trouble there. I tried local cuisine in each country and ended up loving most of it. For recommendations & my favorite restaurants, head to my food recommendations page.

 

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