20 Foodie Lessons I’ve learned whilst travelling the world


Throughout the last 9 years, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in travelling to 18 different countries, across 5 different continents. As a result, I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons when it comes to mealtime throughout the world, and today on the blog I share my favourites.

    1. The world hates Vegemite – It’s sad but true; I’m yet to meet an international that loves it. I really think it’s because other cultures are so liberal with their spreads (which are usually incredibly sweet) and the truth to Vegemite success is by taking a “less is more” approach? Regardless, take some small sachets when you travel, not only is it a great conversation starter, for some strange reason, I always crave it when I’m away.
    2. Specialty coffee is an Australian thing – Travelling throughout South America, Italy, France, Turkey, the US and London made us realise just how advanced Australia is in the art of specialty coffee. I know the rest of the world is catching up, but this is really something we’ve done so incredibly well here and something you miss overseas. The words “uno espresso” are almost universal and our saving grace.
    3. Google Translation becomes your new bestie – Especially when there are no English menus in sight. TRAVEL TIP: Before you arrive, Google translate the word for chicken (it’s the safest). If there are no English menus, order the chicken and eenie meenie miney mo your way through a whole bunch of sides (they are usually vegetables) and hope for the best! If you’re still in doubt, just ask the staff to order for you.
    4. A healthy breakfast is an Australian thing – Just trawl any foodies’ Instagram here in Oz and you’ll be blown away by the fresh, vibrant colour of each breakfast plate. Head overseas and you’ll struggle to find the same work of art… EVEN if it’s just avocado on toast. When you’re abroad, just know a croissant and coffee is typically universal in most places.
    5. The cost of living (and food) in Australia is ASTRONOMICAL in comparison to other countries, however the quality of fresh produce is second to none.
    6. Australia is stingy on the freebies/extras – Whether it’s a breadbasket, or some olives and cheese to pair with your wine, rest assured Australia will charge you for it… BIG TIME. The rest of the world? Not so much. This really does grate on me when I come home.
    7. “Gluten Free” isn’t as popular abroad as we might think– Yes; we (Australia, US and UK) seem to be catering to those who are intolerant, allergic or just scared of gluten. Interesting, no? You can read all about how I easily went Gluten Free in Italy here.
    8. Snacking on the run is a Western thing – Spend time abroad and you’ll quickly realise just how little other cultures snack on the run. Back home we seem to order a take-away coffee/snack and race out the door. Abroad, they tend to take more time to enjoy the simple things… they slow down.
    9. Check the local meal times – This will help you avoid eating dinner alone. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been ready for dinner at 7pm only to realise dinner doesn’t get started until 10pm (earliest).
    10. iPads at the dinner table aren’t the norm in other cultures outside our Western world – In so many other cultures, mealtime is sacred family time and iPads and iPhones are nowhere to be seen during mealtime. Mealtime is a time to share with family and friends, not your electronic devices, no matter what your age. Something I think we as a Western society have lost sight of.
    11. Alcohol does not have to fuel violence – Throughout the world, alcohol is consumed in moderation. It is paired with food, never replacing a meal. It is to be enjoyed with friends and family who literally drink and be merry. It’s a stark contrast to the way we’re perceived back home.
    12.  The price we pay for alcohol here in Australia is insane – I realise this is the so-called solution to part of the problem above, but that’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me when we’re overseas.
    13. Take your own Himalayan salt – Yes, I carry Himalayan rock salt around in my handbag and can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve used it. Definitely one of the first things I pack.
    14. When you can’t pick a restaurant – Always, and I repeat always, pick the restaurant filled with locals, not tourists. You won’t miss. Avoid eating on main strips, 99% of the time they are tourist traps.
    15.  We really do eat a lot of greens (and vegetables) – The one thing I will never take for granted here in Australia is the endless amount of fresh greens available. One of the things I love most about coming home.
    16. Book a food tour – I love a food tour. Not only do you get to tap into local knowledge about the area, you are tempted with traditional dishes that you otherwise would not have tried, you’re dazzled by a little history and meet travellers from all over the world. My only advice is to pick wisely. Doing a food tour in Seattle ended meant we ended up in a food coma, you can read about this here.
    17. Be brave – My heart breaks for those people who find McDonalds in Cusco, just to “feel at home”. When you travel abroad, be adventurous and embrace the culture. When I’m abroad I let my guard down and try most things (including Alpaca, Guinea Pig and a Quinoa beer – its part of the experience and never as terrible as you think.
    18. Probiotics are a must – I never, repeat never travel without probiotics. When you’re abroad, you’re exposed to a whole new variety of bacteria. Supporting your existing army with a daily probiotic is essential to maintaining wellbeing whilst you’re away.
    19. No one cares about customs control, as much as Australia. When it comes to declaring food at customs, I quickly realised Australia’s border control is one of the toughest in the world. I understand why and I respect that, but you can’t help but laugh when border control in other countries just waves you through as you’re standing there holding your Chinese herbs and bag of nuts.
    20. There’s absolutely no place like home – whilst there is so much we can learn from other cultures, what we have here, in this country is nothing like anywhere else in the world and for that, I’m forever grateful (even if it means I have to pay for my bread haha).

Do you have any foodie lessons to add? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.