The effect of eating on travel habits

Last updated 10:11 03/08/2012

Is there a sentence that, for you, defines the relationship between two travel companions? For me, it's three words: "Are you hungry?"

At home I don't think about my eating habits. If I'm peckish I'll head to the fridge; if I've arranged to meet friends for brunch or dinner, I'll wait. At work I eat when I like or at an appointed time with a mate.

FoodTravelling alone is the same. But when you're journeying with a pal, your appetite is thrust under the microscope. What I've discovered about my stomach: I function best on a large breakfast, a large lunch and a small dinner. I can go hours between meals but hunger doesn't hit for me until I'm STARVING and I must eat or die.

What I've discovered about Ted's stomach: famished or not, he must refuel every two hours. Because he might get hungry soon and then where would we be?

I'm a "become ravenous and then look for food" kind of girl; he likes to plan our provision stops for the next three meals. When you're incompatible eaters, your trip can feel as though it revolves solely around tucker (there are worse things). One person feels as though they're eating more often than necessary and the other not enough.

Tripping around Eastern Europe last year, Kate and I suffered equally. Her metabolism is exactly contrary to mine. Breakfast for her is a piece of fruit and lunch is not much more. But dinner. Dinner is a lavish affair that must always include dessert. Every night our conversation was the same: me, "shall we share something this time?" Kate, "Oh no, I'm very hungry tonight. I'm going to need a meal to myself."

Each lunchtime she would laugh as I asked hopefully: "Are you peckish?" She quickly learned to feed the beast soon after the question was posed (sorry bro). Her influence on me was for the better when it came to salad and fruit, for the worse at treat time (I needed so much convincing). With our eating equilibriums out of sync, we both ate more than usual (though her self discipline is much better than my own.)

SchnitzWhen you find the Holy Grail though, that special someone whose metabolism is perfectly tuned to yours, it's a joyous thing. My friend Tracy is that person. She's the Maria to my Captain Von Trapp, my schnitzel and strudel enabler. In Austria we discovered a shared love of that country's national fare. It cemented our friendship as nothing else could. Over a glorious three days we shared a schnitz and a strude at every opportunity. Like Pooh and Piglet, each time one of us would ask, "Do you feel like a little something?" the other would respond "I was just going to ask you the same thing."

When you're with someone 24 hours a day you discover everything about them. You learn one another's secrets after lights out and whether they're a morning person or whether it's best to steer clear until after midday. But the lasting memory of each of my travel buddies has been the intricate workings of their metabolic systems. Hmmm, what does this say about me?

How about you? Have you had equally food-oriented travel experiences?

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viffer   #1   11:55 am Aug 03 2012

Not only are my SpousalUnit and I very best friends, we also share the same tastes in many things (apart from she doesn't like heavy metal, has to be careful with seafood, and only occasionally drinks beer). When travelling, we usually feel like eating the same sort of food, and if one of us is ready to eat, so is the other. The one huge difference is I have a fairly fast metabolism, and if I'm tired AND hungry, it can lead to me not coping with stress and very occasionally needing food RIGHT NOW. This happened on our Yurpeen trip last year, when we did too much walking around Mont Martre in Paris, and my brain imploded. So, instead of choosing somewhere to eat that had interesting food, character, atmosphere, views, etc., we had to opt for somewhere close at hand, easy, with a simple choice of foods. It ended up being kind of anodyne, and memorable only for being bland. Food was OK, but not memorable. Of course, afterwards we saw a couple of places that were quaint, had interesting food, nice views, etc etc. Too late, and I felt like a dick for having such a fragile energy-dependent brain...

We did make up for it with other more leisurely meals though, and luckily in five weeks I had only a couple of less-than-stellar non-functioning brain moments...

Sparrow   #2   01:52 pm Aug 03 2012

You're very lucky to be able to have such a casual attitude towards food. I have to follow a specific diet, so EVERY meal has to be planned and thought about ahead of time. I'm going to Thailand next months and the thought of not being able to prepare my own food and being 'caught out' fills me with panic (a couple of unfriendly meals and I could be spending the rest of the trip in the bathroom). To make it even harder I have to eat at least every 3 hours.

Luckily my boyfriend has a massive appetite and is also usually keen to eat every few hours. On top of that, he will eat all the bits on my plate that I can't eat due to dietry restrictions (and there are a lot). And if I'm really hungry but can't find anything friendly, I'll just take a small, cautious nibble on whatever he's eating to tie me over until I find a friendly food. Perfect food partners. I would find it VERY hard to travel with someone whose world doesn't revolve around food/appetite.

lease   #3   02:05 pm Aug 03 2012

I have enough trouble with that at home, my boyfirend eats every two hours, and A LOT, I eat 3 square meals + a snack, and keep the non-dinner portions quite small (I think I'm like your mate Kate). The problem with this is that I get insane food envy everytime my boyfriend eats... it's difficult not to eat for the sake of eating with him! However, I'm travelling with a friend in a couple of weeks and we both have the same tastes & appetites - so that should work well!

JCC   #4   02:08 pm Aug 03 2012

Almost as bad as not having the same food-time needs, is travelling with someone who doesn't really care that much what they eat, doesn't mind repetition, and is a bit frugal. So you feel bad for wanting relatively healthy, varied and a bit more $$ meals (i.e. not fried food all the time). I solve this by announcing the things i want to try in a particular place (e.g. must have bratwurst in germany, bagels in NY, 'game' meat in South Africa etc) and compromising on other meals (breakfast = muesli or toast, lunch = bread/cheese/salad/or the occassional burger).

mup.   #5   09:55 pm Aug 05 2012

I used to have a good ol' tea drinking buddy called Harriet. She only drinks hot water with lemon in it now. I am sad.

J   #6   01:43 pm Aug 06 2012

It's funny how everyone has different eating habits. For me, I forget to eat. My body must have gotten used to it. One of my friends is exactly the same. We'll spend the day together and it will get to around 10pm at night and we'll both go "We haven't eaten today... maybe we should".

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