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Is it OK to Eat McDonald’s While Travelling? Ask a Travel Blogger!

Is it OK to Eat McDonald’s While Travelling? Ask a Travel Blogger!

With the world seemingly opening up (with even some hope for us in Fortress New Zealand) it’s time I got active on this blog again. It has been tough running a travel blog for 18 months while not being able to leave the country, but it’s time to look forward to travelling again! I’ve started a new series where people email in and ask questions about life on the road. Today, I’m answering a question from Jimmy (possibly just me in a hat – this is the first in the series after all) about whether or not he should eat at McDonald’s, or any western fast-food chain, while travelling in exotic locales.

The Answer

Hey Jimmy, I love the hat! The short answer to your question is that yes, it’s OK to eat McDonald’s while travelling. It’s OK to do pretty much anything as long as you’re not breaking laws or hurting people. I’m sure you already know that though. What you’re really asking is will people judge you for it, and will you miss much by not venturing the more “local” spots?

Firstly, people absolutely will judge you for it. They’ll also judge you for what you wear, what you say, what you believe and hundreds of other things that are either in or out of your control.

Seafood lunch on the 17 Islands boat tour in Riung, Flores, Indonesia

Travellers are often more judgmental than most. For a lot of people, there’s a right way to travel, and if you’re not doing it that way you’re doing it wrong (what a tourist!). I’ve met some of these people, and they’re generally the worst sort of people to hang out with. So why care about what they, or anyone else thinks? 

Burgers and Fries

I’ve eaten plenty of fast food in my travelling life so far, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I’m alive (which might not be long if I keep gorging on burgers). There’s a time and a place for most things in life, and there are definitely situations where you’ll be glad to see those glowing golden arches lighting the way to a meal you actually recognise.

Those situations include late nights at train stations, a burger after eating nothing but rice and dal for weeks, or a pick-me up when travelling gets tough (and it gets tough more often than you’d think). Especially for long term travellers, there’s nothing better than eating something familiar after weeks of very unfamiliar food.

Still, Try the Local Food!

In saying all of that, I’d advise against relying solely on western fast food while travelling the world. You’ll miss out on so many interesting meals that you’d never otherwise try, and getting to know the cuisine of a country you’re visiting is an important part of getting to know that culture. It’s also mostly delicious if you give it a chance – people wouldn’t eat it if it wasn’t good! Also, do try “local” fast food places — we love trying to find nice gourmet burgers around the world.

Balance

The key is balance. Don’t be that person who looks down on anyone who dares eat a Big Mac. Also, don’t just eat Big Macs. For me, when travelling around Southeast Asia I’d get fast food occasionally, maybe once a month (mostly because it’s hard to find outside of the big cities). I also love the food in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore especially), so I didn’t really have the craving for western fast food.

In other parts of the world it really depends on what the local food is like. We ate KFC probably four times (probably more) in our month in Peru – we liked Peruvian food but had travelled from Mexico to Peru without eating much fast food at all and were craving some home comforts by the time we got to Peru.

So, Jimmy, I hope that clears things up. Eat all the fast food you want, but do try the local food as well. Or don’t – I won’t judge you too harshly.

Do you have a question? Ask a travel blogger (AKA me) in the comments below (or email me).

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.

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