Majority of Americans Don’t Try Local Cuisine on Vacation


Friends sharing a Mexican meal

Culinary travel may be a growing trend but adventurous eating has a lot of catching up to do. Interest in trying local foods far exceeds the number of people who actually try foreign flavors, according to new research.

A study from Jetcost revealed that three-fifths of Americans admit to not trying the local cuisine on their vacation. More than seven in 10 also admitted that they splurge on takeout meals while on vacation, with McDonald’s and KFC found to be the most popular choices.

McDonald's sign near the Pantheon in Rome.

A further 20 percent said that they look for an American diner or bar when abroad, while actively trying to avoid the local cuisine available.

“Whilst home comforts are an easy fallback option when on holiday, it’s not worth missing out on what local restaurants have to offer as it could become the highlight of your trip away,” said a Jetcost spokesperson.

“This being said, it is important to be cautious while trying new foods in different countries; for example, only opt for unpeeled fruit in countries where the tap water is safe to drink. That being said, you might discover a love for a whole new food range,” they added.

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The survey quizzed more than 4,200 people over the age of 18 on their vacation habits in conjunction with an ongoing study. According to Jetcost, all respondents had been on at least one vacation outside of the mainland U.S. within the past two years.

When asked why they did not try the local cuisine, the top five reasons why were found to be:

—Don’t like the look or smell of it – 29 percent

—Prefer to stick to what I know – 22 percent

—Previously had a bad experience -18 percent

—Fear of getting sick – 15 percent

—I’m a fussy eater – 8 percent

Food has even impacted American’s travel decisions. According to the study, specific local cuisines have put them off going on vacation to a certain country with China (17 percent), India (15 percent) and Vietnam (14 percent) the most common destinations avoided.

While food may be off-putting for many, engaging in the local culture remains important to most. The survey found that almost three fifths (59 percent) said that they make an active effort to go sightseeing and partake in local activities when on vacation—just don’t ask them to eat anything.