You’ve probably guessed by now that food is going to be a big part of your expedition.
You’ll be away from home cooked meals for up to a month, be encountering ingredients or cooking styles you may not have tried before, some of you may even have to purchase and cook your own meals whilst on your trekking phase.
Local food is one of best things about exploring a new destination, but it’s also normal to have a few questions about it. Through our many years of travel to developing world countries we’ve put together this guide on eating overseas!
Cuisine culture shock!
Food culture can vary greatly from country to country and you may find options you’ve never had before. For instance: street food stalls are really common in South East Asia and often it’s where you’ll find the most delicious options!
You may find that you take some time to adjust to a new diet and it’s important that you eat enough to keep your energy levels high, especially as you will potentially be exercising more than normal. So we fully encourage you to keep an open mind and give all the local food a try, even if you’re missing mum’s roast dinner!
Spicy lentils, soup for breakfast, deep fried bugs – some of the food choices may seem a little out there compared to what you’ll be used to, but trust us, Macca’s overseas won’t taste the same as it does at home, so stick to local cuisine – it’ll be much more satisfying and you will have less chance of getting sick!
No peanuts for me…
One of the most common questions we get asked prior to departure is how to deal with food allergies. The good news is that having food allergies shouldn’t hold you back from travelling to any destination – you just have to be prepared to handle it.
You’ll want to be able to communicate your needs to any local restaurants, food stalls or local hosts. We recommend that you learn how to explain your requirement in the local language. Better still, ask your In-Country Agent to write it down on a piece of card, or create a picture flash card that you can carry with you and show, to alleviate any translation difficulties. Don’t be afraid to stipulate the seriousness of your allergy, if it could be fatal make a point of saying so!
Remember also to be aware of the sauces and oils used in the cooking process, for instance many South East Asian countries will use peanut oil or fish sauce as standard cooking ingredients.
If your allergy is one that will result in anaphylaxis, then you need to ensure you have declared your allergy to World Challenge and have a medical plan in place for the use of epi-pens. Please contact us if this is something you’re unsure on – we’re only too happy to help you prepare for this.
What about vegetarian options?
Other dietary requirements and dietary choices such as gluten intolerance, vegetarianism or veganism are things that are more easily managed. Most of the time on expedition you’ll have many options for meals choices, and be able to find something that suits your needs. A lot of the countries we travel to have many wonderful vegetarian options and have rice as a staple instead of wheat.
If you’re heading into a more of a remote area, for example on your trek, you might want to ask/plan ahead, and make sure that if you’re buying food as a team that you voice your dietary needs to ensure they’re covered!
Bali Belly is no one’s friend
Getting sick from food whilst travelling is all too common. Follow our golden rules to minimise your chance of falling ill with travellers’ gastro:
Look after your own hygiene. Before eating anything clean your hands thoroughly – this means washing AND sanitising, otherwise you’ll just be sanitising the dirt on your hands. Also think about the dirt under your nails – keep them clean or cut them short to prevent spreading germs.
Be smart about choosing where to eat – does the establishment look clean? Are there locals eating there? When buying from food stalls: can you tell how high the turnover of food is? You don’t want to be eating anything that has been sitting around for a while. When it comes to food, if in doubt – don’t risk it!
We know not to drink or brush our teeth with the water from the tap, so you’ll want to always ensure you have a water bottle filled up with water treated with purification drops that will be supplied to you by your expedition leader.
Don’t forget the not-so-obvious water sources as well – salad and fruits will often be washed in untreated water, so if in doubt go for a cooked meal, choose fruit with a removable skin or wash the produce with your own filtered water. Ice is another risk area, opt for juices and sodas that come in bottles or make sure you request ‘no ice’ when in restaurants.
When you return home, don’t rush to buy fast food again! You’ll need to let your body get used to richness and sugars in the western diet.
And that’s it!
If you have any further questions then be sure to ask them during your in-school meetings or on your training expedition! For more information on what your training expedition will involve log into your My World Challenge account https://www.myworldchallenge.com/training-expedition/