There's no better reason to travel than food, so let food guide your travels
By Jennifer Mitchell
If your love of travel is only surpassed by your love of food, you’ve come to the right blog post. No Small Plan prompts conversations and bonding over travel goals and experiences, so audacious explorers like you can find new travel ideas and inspire one another. Most recently, we talked about quest ideas for sports fans and travel goals for nature lovers. Now, we’re moving on to something we think everyone can relate to: great food and drink.
If you’re a self-proclaimed “foodie”, oenophile or mixology worshiper, why not weave your epicurean interest into a life-long (or multi-year) travel quest? You’ll explore the world while filling up on incredible meals, learning new styles of cooking and savoring delicious adult beverages. There are a number of ways to craft a food and drink-related travel plan, but to get started, let’s talk about food that critics claim is worth a trip.
Osteria Francescana, #2 of The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 | photo: osteriafrancescana.it
1. Dine at award-winning restaurants around the globe
Though there are a number of establishments that identify excellence in food, The Michelin Guide is the world’s leading authority on fine dining. Each year, guides are released in cities and countries around the world, awarding restaurants one, two or three stars. Though few restaurants have received the coveted three-star rating, the designation, according to the guide, means “worth a special journey.” We’re taking that literally. While it’s unlikely you’d be able to visit every Michelin-Starred restaurant in the world, there are ways to let the Michelin Guide…well…guide you.
There are 34 Michelin Guides released each year (though new locations are added from time to time). If you’re looking for a quest that’s challenging, but manageable, try to visit all 34 locations and eat at a Michelin-Starred restaurant on each trip. You can choose to go to expensive tasting-menu establishments awarded with three stars with lots of advance planning to score a spot, or choose more accessible and affordable one-star venues if that’s more your speed. If you’re looking to go big and have lots of time, choose a year that is special to you and visit every restaurant that was awarded a certain number of stars in that year.
For a list with fewer annual award recipients and further geographic reach, check out The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, an organization that identifies the 50 best restaurants that “reflect the diversity of the world's culinary landscape.” And if drinks are more your thing (and what an admirable purpose for travel that is!), the organization behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants also rallies 500 drink experts to create the list of The World’s 50 Best Bars.
2. Eat a meal in every state
A common travel goal that we’ve heard at No Small Plan is visiting all 50 states. However, some questers have a hard time determining what qualifies as a visit. Does a simple touchdown count? Do you have to spend the night or participate in one activity in each state? By deciding to eat a meal in every state, you’ll have a definitive task to check off your list. During your mission, we’d encourage you to either try one local dish that the region is known for or eat at an iconic local restaurant. At No Small Plan, we don’t judge your journeys, but we don’t know if we can give credit if you go to Louisiana to visit a TGI Fridays. Unless of course your travel goal is to visit a TGI Fridays in each state, in which case, have at it…
Wine and recline on your wine tasting vacation | photo: Kara Walsh
3. Tour a winery in the major wine regions
Serious wine lovers are familiar with the idea of terroir: the environmental conditions in an area where a particular wine is produced, and the characteristic taste imparted by those conditions. So what better way to fully appreciate the wines you love than to visit the place where they’re made? You’ll also get the added benefit of enjoying them with local food, which naturally pairs well with the wine. After comparing sommelier recommendations, we’ve come up with a list of 10 wine regions to visit for a winery tour or wine tasting. Once you’ve hit the top 10, you may want to keep adding!
Top wine regions include Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne in France, Tuscany in Italy, Napa/Sonoma in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, La Rioja in Spain, Mendoza in Argentina, Central Otago in New Zealand and Cape Town in South Africa. If you’re looking to add more regions to your list, get some tips from a sommelier.
4. Take a cooking class on six continents
Not all food-related travel plans need to revolve around simply consuming food. For those of you who value your time in the kitchen, consider travel plans to take a cooking class on six continents — seven as soon as a cooking school opens in Antarctica. Not only will the quest take you around the world, but it will also introduce you to new recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques that you can bring back and try at home. If you need some inspiration for where to start, check out the best cooking schools around the world according to Travel + Leisure and The Travel Channel.
Salon du Chocolat, Ecuador | photo: CCIFEC.org
5. Attend the world’s best food festivals
If experiencing a curated selection of the latest food and drink trends gets you excited, consider a travel goal focused on food and wine festivals. While there are a number of festivals that are specific to a certain type of cuisine or strange food-related customs, our list contains the 11 best food festivals according to a number of expert roundups.
They include the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Miami), Charleston Food + Wine Festival, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Taste of Chicago, EPCOT Food and Wine Festival (Orlando), Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, NYC Wine & Food Festival, Salon du Chocolate (Quito, Ecuador) and The Cayman Cookout (Cayman Islands). If these 11 festivals aren’t enough, get inspired by some of our favorite roundups from Culture Trip, Travel Channel and Insider.
By now you’re probably inspired to make your list — and your stomach is probably growling. So grab a snack, make your travel plans and don’t forget to create your map with No Small Plan.
Jennifer Mitchell is a blogger, comedian, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast.
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