Fast Food While Traveling: Would You?

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Let’s face it, pretty much everywhere you go is going to have Mcdonald’s. You are likely to find other common stuff from home like Starbuck’s, Burger King and even an occasional T.G.I. Fridays as well.

According to an article I read, The Best Food at Sonic: Healthy Sonic Menu Items – fast food and chain restaurants have expanded their reach six-fold over the last 25 years – so I’d like to know – do you eat at fast food restaurants while you are traveling?

Here are some pros and cons to get you thinking:

Pros:

  • You know exactly what to expect. That Big Mac is likely to taste pretty similar in China as is does in your neighborhood drive-thru. It may not be gourmet but you may be sick of the guess what’s for dinner game.
  • The bathrooms are clean. At home you are not likely to factor the quality of the restroom into your dining decision, but that is because there are laws that set certain standards for all establishments that serve food. When you are traveling around from sketchy bathroom to filthy bathroom, it’s nice to be able to buy some fries and pee in a place that doesn’t look like it is infected with hepatitis. There is probably even toilet paper!
  • It tastes like home. Sometimes food can bring back good memories on a bad day abroad. After trying a a local delicacy that makes you gag, it can be comforting to get what you are used to.

Cons:

  • It’s overpriced. Forget about the Dollar Menus, the popular American restaurant chains are not for the broke college student who wants to buy a meal with whatever change they can find in their car. It may be cheaper than a sit down restaurant but there are almost always other options like street food and bakeries that are a fraction of the price and way tastier.
  • It’s the same crap you eat at home. And I do mean crap! That stuff isn’t even good enough for you when you’re at home, so you definitely shouldn’t be missing out on the local cuisine for a box of mushy fries.
  • You’re going to regret it. Chances are, you’re going to feel bad about yourself shortly after your meal. Whether it be guilt, embarrassment or unpleasant rumblings in you tummy, you probably are not going to stand behind this decision for the rest of the day.

I personally don’t like any fast food chains, save for Taco Bell which I consume on occasion when drunk or hungover, and even then it is pretty rare.

I can proudly say I have not eaten Mcdonald’s in 5 years (other than McFlurries).

However, I have to admit that the last time I ate Mcdonald’s I was in Argentina. I was ashamed, yes, but I had just gotten ill off a 4 cheese pasta loaded with Roquefort cheese. After a couple of bites of what smelled like sewage pasta, I was finished.

My Mcdonald’s satisfied my need for something familiar with the exact level of quality I expected. However, I did feel stupid about it later.

What about you? Do you eat at chain restaurants while traveling? What are your pros and cons?

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About Author

Rease gave up on office life before she turned 22. She believes in hard work, but only if it makes you incredibly happy. Rease is a writing, traveling, kid-loving, Spanish-speaking nerd of a girl who may be the craziest balance of 40-year-old responsible logic and 7-year-old childlike amusement. She is currently living the expat life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, writing for Travelated.com and planning her next trip - in other words- living the dream.

5 Comments

  1. I ate at Subway a LOT when I was in Australia. Mainly because it was actually cheaper than a lot of the other options. And oddly enough, I never ate at Subway at home before then, so now when I occasionally get Subway in the States, it reminds me of Oz instead. πŸ™‚ Other than that, I think I was really good about sticking with the locals!

  2. I eat McDonalds every now and again when I’m travelling – sometimes I just need to eat something that I know is going to taste like it does at home, no matter what country I’m in!

  3. The only fast food place I’ll eat at when abroad is Subway (though I don’t know if it fits the stereotypical fast food ‘persona’- the slogan is “Eat Fresh” lol)… I try to stay away from greasy, fatty foods when I’m travelling, period, because I have a weak stomach and a penchant for getting sick when I travel!

  4. I had subway in Mendoza a few times because I do not eat ham and it is so hard to find turkey lunch meat! It was my cheap way of not sitting down at a restaurant to eat. I haven’t seen any Subways in Buenos Aires but I have found the delis that sell turkey so I’m free of it anyway!

  5. I think that sometimes – especially on longer trips – you can feel the need for something familiar. And there’s no shame in that!

    I love trying new foods when I’m travelling, but I’m a strict vegetarian so at times the only thing I can find that’s okay to eat (other than fruit and bread from the market) are chips: fast food chains just make things easy for a quick fuel stop. But I don’t make a habit out of it πŸ™‚

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