No matter where in the country or the world you take your travelers, there is one thing that each trip will have in common — you will have to eat.
As the culinary arts continue to grow in esteem throughout our society, more people are looking to have elevated food encounters when they travel. The popularity of food culture gives smart travel planners a wealth of opportunities for creating exciting, memorable and delicious culinary experiences for their groups.
If you count epicureans among your frequent travelers, upgrading the culinary elements of a tour is a great way to earn their appreciation and enthusiasm. Today, there are more ways then ever to integrate food experiences into your tours. Some of them we featured on this Travel Toolbox are easy to accomplish, and others involve a little bit more creativity and planning.
Order Off the Menu
One of the most frustrating experiences for traveling food fans is going into a good-looking restaurant with a group but being unable to sample its best fare because your group’s prix fixe menu is limited to three or four — usually cheaper — options. This is an age-old tradition in group tourism, but it doesn’t have to continue this way. Forward-thinking tour operators have found ways to let their travelers have free choice from the full restaurant menus during their included group meals. This is more expensive, of course, and may take longer than a prix fixe group meal. But to the foodies in your group, these are small prices to pay for a great restaurant experience.
Guided Food Tours
Even the most prodigious eaters are limited to a few meals per day, meaning that travelers often get only a small taste of a destination’s culinary delights before their itinerary takes them elsewhere. For epicureans who want to sample the best of a city’s local flavor, guided food tours provide a perfect solution. Food tours are booming in popularity in cities large and small, and can range from guided walking tours to full-size bus tours. Most food tours visit five to eight local eateries over the course of an afternoon, giving participants a small taste of one or two specialties at each establishment. By the time the tour is over, travelers have eaten the equivalent of a full meal and have a more complete perspective on the local food scene.
Serious food lovers are likely to be just as interested in preparing food as they are in eating it. Incorporating a cooking class into your program can help satisfy this appetite for culinary knowledge. Groups can have cooking classes in stand-alone cooking schools, at local universities or even in restaurants, where a chef will walk them though preparing a signature dish. Many of these experiences focus on cooking local specialties, meaning that your travelers will return home and be able to re-create some of their favorite foods from their travels.