Meal Planning Tips
Tips on meal-related issues to decide in advance:
- What meals will be included in the tour price? Mark your brochure or final details with B,L,D at the end of each day.
- Will breakfast be continental or full? This is also a consideration on timing to start your day.
- Will lunch be on your own or with the group? Lunch on-own is generally preferred unless it’s a special occasion. Lunch included can be full meals and end up being too much food for the day—far better than comments about small food portions but still a situation to be aware of.
- Will dinner be served plated or buffet-style? Buffet style every night is less than preferred, especially in hotel dining rooms. If you are staying at the hotel for three, four or more nights, the choices are minimal.
- Large groups can cause logistical challenges with some restaurants, especially if meal choices are involved.
- Ask in advance if any tour members have dietary restrictions so they can be accommodated. This can be included in the reservation form.
- In line with the dietary standards of your faith, be sure restaurants know your preferences regarding meats to be served. Advance planning is key to having the dietary needs of your group met. • Will wine or other alcoholic beverages be served? If so, limits must be set. If your group does not approve of alcoholic beverages, this too must be conveyed in advance.
Food is always an important part of the travel experience, and the ability to dine like a local will help your travelers immerse themselves into the trip. Good food and good health is your goal.
Having an understanding of the type of cuisine native to that destination will allow your group to better experience the local flavors without suffering gastronomical consequences.
For example, certain spices might not agree with the American palate, not to mention what’s considered a delicacy in some regions would not ever make it on the plate of an American traveler.
Here are some ideas to “spice up” your culinary experience:
- Sharing meals with fellow denominational members or mission staff members is a wonderful experience but must be arranged in advance.
- Cultural experiences (music, dancing) during meals can make an ordinary meal a special event.
- Take the opportunity to experience local foods, especially desserts. • Include performers or lecturers to join your group and enhance the experience.
If your group is planning a meal with a local host, education on both sides is important. The host is eager to show the guests the best that is available and wants them to eat heartily. If large meals are not part of your travelers’ everyday routine, explain this to your host. Travelers should also be aware of local customs and be prepared to have a “taste” of everything. The way meals are served and what is standard for each course is a point to share with your group.
When enjoying dinner in Italy, many restaurants will serve pasta as a starter but if your group is not planning on this as a beginning to a meal, they will fill up on pasta. Desserts as well are not always the grand ending expected. Some cultures will serve light desserts such as fruit or small sweets. The heavy pastry and cakes are served in the afternoon during tea time or coffee time.
Aside from being able to drink the water, many countries do not have the food service standards we do and even washed fruit and vegetables can be a problem. This type of information should be shared at the information session prior to travel. Educate and prepare them with examples of what is “safe” and what is to be declined.
Do your research and inform the group in advance of do’s and don’ts to ensure healthy travels. Again your travel industry partner can be a great source of information on this. They deal with visitors coming to their region and know what will result in a rewarding culinary experience.
Please select the article you wish to view:
Planning Guide Home
Your Faith-Based Tour
Choosing the Right Tour Operator
Trip Planning Timeline
Meal Planning Tips