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Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels

               There is no debate that food can tell the story of a person’s (or peoples) culture, and history; which is why when it comes to travel, culinary tourism has grown to become so mainstream. In fact, a recent report by the University of Florida estimates that 39 million U.S. travelers choose a destination based on the availability of food related activities, and another 35 million seek out culinary activities after a destination is decided on. This sudden obsession with food and travel is driving destinations and hotels to introduce services that cater to the market. For example, cities like Philadelphia and Houston are upping their restaurant scenes partially in hopes to expand tourism.

               When it comes to food tourism authenticity is key. In the past, many travelers opted for 5 star hotels and restaurants that presented them with options like gourmet wine and cheese pairings, but now people are much more interested in local food experiences that actually represent the country or city they are visiting. This new way of thinking about food can not only be cheaper for tourists but it has also helped local restaurants and markets stay in business. Authenticity is not the only piece of the puzzle. Culinary travelers also seek to explore tradition, artistry, and heritage surrounding the food they are eating so it is a great advantage for chefs, farmers, and other artisans to offer tourists a behind the scene look at their operations.

               Everyone has to eat so this increased interest in culinary tourism is not going away any time soon. Food tourism is interesting because not only does it shape the way we as tourists travel but it also affects and shapes the way cities think about food. As I mentioned earlier, lesser known food destinations are finally discovering that food can help attract more visitors so seeing a place like Charleston turn into a foodie city is not surprising. I don’t know about you, but food is always the highlight of my vacations so I am more than thrilled to see others getting excited about culinary tourism too!

Will Travel for Food

Will Travel for Food

If you have kids in school or are a kid in school, you probably know we are in the midst of Spring Break season. This crazy time where college kids hit the beach for multiple nights of drunken debauchery (they still do that, right?) and parents with kids still living at home, try and figure out where to take the family so they don’t kill each other sitting at home all week with nothing to do.

Since I have two young kids, the only natural thing for us to do for spring break this year was embark on an 8 hour drive to Williamsburg, VA. About two hours into our drive I heard a noise that wasn’t the radio; it was my stomach telling me it was almost time to stop for food! As we were driving down the highway looking for a good place to stop, I started thinking about the importance of food as part of the travel equation and how technology, and food & travel TV shows have changed and enhanced the way we eat while on the road. 

First let’s discuss app technology. As we all know there are apps for everything these days, there is even an app called Yo., that’s sole purpose is to send someone a voice-note saying “yo;” so when it comes to food and travel there is no shortage of apps either. Jetzy, the world’s first geo-location based, user-to-user social app connects people with a passion for all things travel, like food. Allowing users to connect with one another and share their favorite restaurant, hotel, or site is one aspect of this app that makes it great for finding the most popular spots at or on your way to a destination. To make Jetzy even more appealing to consumers the app offers “JetPoints” that can be redeemed and used towards things like dining out, or going to the spa. Jetzy’s motto is “Travel like a Local” and it really does allow travelers to get connected to all the best native places. Another great recourse for food and traveling is Citymaps. Similar to Jetzy, Citymaps allows users to mark and share maps of all the places they have traveled. This app is extremely customizable and has endless amounts of data for users to engage in. Both Jetzy and Citymaps aren’t strictly food related apps but they can provide consumers with just as much, or more insight on where to eat while traveling than sites like Yelp.

Travel TV shows are also a great outlet for travelers who are looking for good places to dine on the road. Anthony Bourdain, “bad-boy” chef and best-selling author, starred in the Emmy award winning Travel Channel show called “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” which hit all the culinary hotspots and out-of-the-way gems around the globe. Similarly Andrew Zimmern travels around the world in a quest for the strangest foods he can find in his show, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” You can even tune into Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” which focuses more on lesser known hot spots around the United States. Although harder to utilize on the road, these shows are great to watch in preparation of travel.

Apps and Travel TV are helping turn the average spring break road trip into a foodie’s dream drive. Also, these resources aren’t only great for consumers, restaurant owners can benefit from them as well. For example, a month after Guy Fieri featured Brick House Café, a small café in Cable, Wisconsin, on his show their sales were up 500%. Being able to easily locate and share stand out destinations has changed the way people view traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I know no one ever complained about going on vacation, but the process of actually getting to your destination can be a drag, with travel apps and shows like the ones discusses above, the once dreaded excursion can actually feel like part of the vacation.