Author Topic: Traveling with picky eaters  (Read 14989 times)

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BuffaloFang

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Traveling with picky eaters
« on: April 02, 2013, 10:40:25 PM »
I recently took a week long trip to a foreign country with a large group of friends, with two picky eaters.  Unfortunately their pickiness didn't coincide (ie, they both ruled out different foods). I'm a pescetarian and I had assumed I would have the hardest time finding food, but the difference was that I was willing to compromise and eat sides/salads/pastries if it came to it, since I figured my dietary restrictions were my problem.   These two were both unwilling to compromise and we would spend hours every day trying to find a restaurant that was acceptable to everyone.  I think a large part of traveling to a foreign country involves eating local fare, and I was a bit frustrated since one of the picky eaters didn't want to eat unfamiliar food.  And the country wasn't even that culturally different than ours!

I tried suggesting we split up, but one of the picky eaters refused to do that and instead insisted on coming with us and then complained that she didn't want to eat at that restaurant the rest of the trip.

Any thoughts on how to handle this situation?  We are likely to travel again at some point, and the experience has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Sophia

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 10:44:33 PM »
Simple.  Don't go with the picky eaters.  It could not have been any fun.

snowdragon

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 10:55:11 PM »
"I am willing to travel with you, but I am going to eat where I want to eat, if you don''t want to try new things, that's fine. I do want to try new things, just as you do not want to be forced to eat what is unfamiliar to you, I do not wish to be limited by anyone else's comfort zone. I think we need to agree before we leave that if we can not agree on a place to eat together in X amount of time we will separate and find the places we are comfortable with.. if we have to go that route and you decide to join me, I expect you to not complain about my choices."

   What you describe would drive me nuts and I would resent my companions.  I do hope you work it out before you leave next time

WillyNilly

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 10:59:36 PM »
I would not have put up with it. This is a HUGE peeve of mine. At first I would have been nice, but by the 3rd or fourth meal and or whining session I would have told the person off.

Eat or don't eat what ever you want, but don't make it someone else's issue and don't ever, ever, ever say "no" to an idea unless you have a counter idea ready. If someone says "Chez Meathouse" and you open your guide book and say "oh, actually how about Hummus Chateau 3 blocks way", that's cool, but if someone says "Chez Meathouse" and you whine and say "but I can't eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat there!" you can just just sit outside and pout by yourself while the rest of us get our carnivore on. Bonus if its raining and we get a window table.

Guide books, for tourists and most likely for locals as well, are not hard to come by and list restaurants by all sorts of methods - by food, by neighborhood, by price. Picky eaters especially should invest in one or more.

In a group, everyone has to compromise a little, and sometimes in a restaurant of "familiar" foods is super fun (McDonalds in Japan has rice balls, in London people eat Pizza Hut with utensils, etc) to see how is done there, but food exploration is a HUGE HUGE HUGE part of traveling and under no circumstances would I let someone's pickiness stifle my foodie-ness continuously. People can make do, or separate but dictating and whining are not ok.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 11:01:17 PM by WillyNilly »

blarg314

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 11:16:24 PM »
I would make arrangements to meet up after the meal, and eat where I wanted to.

For me, a huge part of travelling is the food, and it's not something I want to compromise on.  There are people with restricted diets that I will travel with  - vegetarianism for example - but inevitably it's someone who is flexible, and has an attitude more along the lines of "as long as I can eat something" rather than insisting on choosing all the restaurants.

In the future, you can make this clear while planning the trip - ask people directly about food restrictions and pickiness, and say straight out that if your dining styles are incompatible, you'll arrange to meet after meals.

If you travel with the same group, you can bring it up in context of the previous trip, and you can be pretty blunt about it - you're going to enjoy the local food, and you're not going to plan your eating around other people's incompatible pickiness.
 

NyaChan

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 11:43:07 PM »
At some point, I would have just said, "I am eating at X.  Anyone who wants to join me is welcome."  and then walked away.  I have actually had to do that before when people could not decide as a group where they wanted to eat.  This situation you described would have driven me crazy and I would have put my foot down - a huge huge part of traveling is getting to try local fare!

sweetonsno

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 02:13:19 AM »
I think it depends a bit on what you meant by "split up." I can understand why someone might not want to eat all alone, especially in an unfamiliar environment. We're social animals.

Okay: "Well, George and John aren't too interested in eating fried grasshoppers either. How about you all go eat at that place across the way and we meet after?" If the suggestion of splitting up was framed that way, then whoever was refusing was being unreasonable.

Not so much: "We all want to go to and eat bosintang. You can go eat at MacDonald's by yourself." This comes across a bit more like an ousting, and I can see why it wouldn't go over too well.

Bottom line on traveling with people who have dietary restrictions: It's definitely snowflakey to insist that everybody eats your way, but it's unkind and inconsiderate to completely and totally disregard somebody's dietary restriction. I'm thinking about spicy food as an example. I love it, but I know others who hate it. (Some actually get blisters around their mouth if they eat it.) It would not be okay for a spice hater to insist that we go to only bland restaurants, or that nobody orders anything above one star. I also don't think it would be okay for everyone else to say, "If you want to go out with us, you have to go to Chez Incendiary" knowing that they'd only be able to eat the garnishes.

Allyson

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 02:39:20 AM »

Not so much: "We all want to go to and eat bosintang. You can go eat at MacDonald's by yourself." This comes across a bit more like an ousting, and I can see why it wouldn't go over too well.


What would you suggest in this situation, where everyone but 1 person wants to try something new and local/spicy/meaty and a lone person doesn't? I think saying those people shouldn't go eat that special thing they want isn't fair either. I would be incredibly frustrated by this situation. Sometimes I feel like it ends up always ending up with the least adventurous eater getting their way. And while I wouldn't be nasty about it, nor would I be OK with going to McDonald's to keep someone company rather than eating X thing I liked.

I'd be fine with something like, they come along to the restaurant but don't eat anything, but instead eat before or after, if that works at all. Not sure if it would in all cases, though.

blarg314

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 04:14:57 AM »
I'm thinking about spicy food as an example. I love it, but I know others who hate it. (Some actually get blisters around their mouth if they eat it.) It would not be okay for a spice hater to insist that we go to only bland restaurants, or that nobody orders anything above one star. I also don't think it would be okay for everyone else to say, "If you want to go out with us, you have to go to Chez Incendiary" knowing that they'd only be able to eat the garnishes.

I think stuff like this depends on where you are travelling, too, and how much of an imposition your dietary restrictions put on your travel companions. If your restrictions rule out a small fraction of restaurants, then it's reasonable to expect that most of the group choices will be okay for you, and you may be on your own for a meal or two. If your restrictions rule out most of the restaurants, you shouldn't expect the others to accommodate you most of the time.

If you're travelling in Italy and you hate spicy food, you can work around it pretty easily. If you're travelling with a group in Thailand,  though, you're going to have a very hard time - a lot of the food is quite spicy, in unexpected places, like cold salads, and there's a strong language barrier (asking for a non spicy version can be really hard). If someone gets blisters eating spicy food, they're going to have difficulty eating the local food at all, unless they go to the blandest of tourist traps.



kherbert05

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 06:21:26 AM »
Picky eater needs to stop whining and go find something they can eat. I've been in a group that all wanted to go to a certain chicken place. I will NOT eat there because the owners are horrible bigots and the food will kill me. I simply said, Sorry can't eat there I'm going to try X I'll meet you at y at time. A couple of time people joined me - other times they didn't. My issue so I just read a book.
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cicero

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2013, 06:37:32 AM »
"I am willing to travel with you, but I am going to eat where I want to eat, if you don''t want to try new things, that's fine. I do want to try new things, just as you do not want to be forced to eat what is unfamiliar to you, I do not wish to be limited by anyone else's comfort zone. I think we need to agree before we leave that if we can not agree on a place to eat together in X amount of time we will separate and find the places we are comfortable with.. if we have to go that route and you decide to join me, I expect you to not complain about my choices."

   What you describe would drive me nuts and I would resent my companions.  I do hope you work it out before you leave next time
this. I think that *everyone* has to give a little - the very picky eaters (or people with allergies or other dietary requirements), have to sometimes be willing to eat at a more adventurous place (or at least be willing to *sit* there), and people who are adventurous might have to sit at the Gold Arches a few times.

and in many "foreign" countries today, restaurants tend to reach out to tourists - offering items that are not spicy (in a spicy cuisine), or indicating what foods are spicy, offering more "familiar" items, and in general in this global world, you will often find things like burgers and pizza almost anywhere. (OK, i haven't been "everywhere" but I work with people who travel a lot and this is the impression that I get).

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nayberry

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2013, 06:51:50 AM »
been there, sadly it was me and two others and they were useless when it came to trying anything different,
ie i suggested food A as it is a speciality and they make several different versions which would have solved the vegetarians problem,
but no we went and had fish and chips because, and i quote, "food A is poopadities!"


YummyMummy66

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2013, 08:01:50 AM »
I would have stated, "You know what?  This is my vacation too.  I am going to this restaurant and sit down to eat.  You can either split up and go somewhere else that suits you or join me and find something that you can eat, as I have done in every other restaurant that you chose" and go into the restaurant and sit down.

It is not so much that they were picky eaters, but that you let them dictate what you do on your vacation also.  It is not just them on the vacay, it was everyone involved.

Emmy

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2013, 08:36:50 AM »
Simple.  Don't go with the picky eaters.  It could not have been any fun.

I don't think the pickiness was the problem as much as the entitled attitude.  I would not eliminate traveling with a good friend who is a picky eater, but would not want to travel with an SS who thinks their food preferences should control the whole trip.  Going with you to the restaurant and sulking was really rude.  In this situation, the majority should have more say and it rude for one or two people to waste so much time arguing about food.  Splitting off was a good idea if the group couldn't come to a compromise and it was very spoiled and selfish of them to not go along with the, but chose to spoil your meal by complaining  I would not travel with these particular people in the future.  This would have made me very angry.  I would have let them know that I want to try X food, anybody who wishes to join me is welcome, anybody who does not can split off and we can meet up later.  Even if it meant eating by myself, I would enjoy it much more than whiny companions or missing out on the traveling experience.

In the future when traveling with a group, maybe you can have each member pick one or two meals on the trip and agree to this ahead of time or find places with a wide variety of choices that everybody can agree with.  That way everybody gets to eat at a restaurant of their choice.  In most restaurants, the chef is willing to adjust the dish so if somebody doesn't like it, they can simply ask for plain chicken and rice or a salad.

bopper

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Re: Traveling with picky eaters
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2013, 09:29:25 AM »
If you all are going to travel again together, then someone (leader?) needs to tell them that part of this trip is going to be eating at local restaurants and it was too much hassle everyday to find a restaurant that the pickier eaters were happy with. If they want to come, they either 1) need to try new foods 2) Be able to find SOMETHING on the menu that they can eat 3) Bring their own food 4) Not attend this time.
If we are in Spain, we are going to have Spanish food so opt out if you are not interested.

Our family just went on a vacation to a well known sea food area...I am allergic to shellfish but we went to seafood restaurants twice because my DH loves it. I made sure ahead of time that there was something I could eat and told the people of my allergies and chose things that would be easy for the restauant to ensure there was no cross contamination.

Another day we were going on a tour at 12:30 and due to running out of hot water issues we got a late start. I wanted to make sure to eat before the tour because I realllly don't like eating lunch late as I start to feel terrible. So we pulled into a Wendy's and grabbed some hamburgers to go. My eldest proclaimed "I don't eat at Wendy's" and I said, that is great, but this is where we are going and there is no other options before the tour.  She didn't eat, but after the tour we stopped for a snack and she ate at that point and was happy with the choices.