- Where do you want to go?
- What will you see?
- How much does it cost?
- How many miles will you ride?
And the list goes on and on. For me, when I’m booking my next vacation, the question that is usually on the top of my list is, “What about the food?!”
If you’ve been on an ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tour in the past, I’m sure you are well aware that we do not skimp on the food. In fact, our culinary offerings are one of the many things we pride ourselves on as we believe food is a big part of a country’s tradition and culture.
But, we also realize that not everyone likes the same things, or can eat the same things. So, here’s the down and dirty about how we manage different requests and make sure everyone is still getting the best food offered on tour:
Special Dietary Preferences
For those folks who do have specific dietary preferences, we will try our best to accommodate your needs and chefs in our preferred restaurants will work hard to provide you with amazing meals that fit your dietary habits. First, we need to know about your preferences ahead of time by and we gather this information in your Customer Information Form. When you fill it out, we ask you include specific information about any food allergies, and include details about what you will and will not eat (e.g. I do not eat any meat, but do eat seafood. I have celiac disease and cannot digest gluten).
Terms like vegan and vegetarian mean very different things to different people. So, instead of general terms, please be specific: I do not eat meat, dairy, yeast, seafood, honey. I don’t eat meat, or seafood, but I do eat dairy and eggs.
While we will make every effort to accommodate your requests, your menu might vary quite a bit from what the other travelers are having. If you are uncertain if we will have what you need, please feel free to ask. If you have very specific dietary requirements and are concerned that we won’t be able to accommodate you adequately, we do encourage you to bring any items that you need to make your trip enjoyable. Of course, your tour leaders are available to assist you if you want to find the local specialties that can accommodate your preferences.Please note that we begin making your tour preparations far in advance, including selecting menus. If you elect to submit dietary preferences, we ask that you adhere to your request while on tour and not switch your order at mealtime.
- B, L, & D: For each tour, we will provide breakfast, an occasional lunch, and a majority of dinners. For a detailed list of what meals are included on your tour, take a look at your online itinerary by searching our Tours pages. The initials, “B”, “L”, and “D”, symbolize, “breakfast”, “lunch”, and “dinner”, respectively.
- Snacks: We also provide snacks for you while you’re riding in case you need a bit of energy while you’re out and about. Our tour van will be stocked with trail mix, energy bars, seasonal fruit and water. If you have a specific snack bar that you like or are hoping to get specific nutrients (caffeine, protein, etc), it’s best to bring some of your own snacks to make sure you have what you need.
For more information check out our What’s Included webpage.
Breakfast on tour might be different than what you’re used to at home. In Europe and South America, breakfast tends to be a pastry and a coffee, which is a tough way to start the day when you have a full day of cycling ahead of you. We provide you with a carbohydrate rich breakfast complete with breads, pastries, and fruit (and much needed beverage fuel, as well). Breakfasts may not always have an option for eggs, but there is almost always meat and cheese as a protein option. European restrictions actually prevent many hotels from doing food preparation which is the reason why you won’t find eggs. If you require something specific, or feel you need more protein at breakfast, please feel free to bring along nut butters as we find those can be great extra protein.
Lunches and On-Your-Own meals
Most lunches on tour will be “On-Your-Own.” We think this option is best for our riders because it allows you to ride at your own pace and you do not have to show up for a lunch date at a specific time. Also, you get to pick one of the local cafés that catch your eye – we often have multiple recommendations for each day as options abound! Once in a while there will be a lunch spot we don’t think you should miss or you’ll be riding in a remote area that makes picnicking the best option. At those times, we’ll have lunch together.
Our dinners are an event worth waiting for. As with any event, we will take some time to enjoy our surroundings and each other. Meals are multiple courses and include wine or beer, depending on where you’re touring. Dinners tend to be later in the evening, too, so expect to eat sometime after 7:00 p.m. and you’ll likely be at the table for a few hours! We also realize that sometimes it is nice to have a break from the group, so we include a few nights with “dinner on your own”. We’ll provide suggestions for any meal that is on your own, but feel free to explore “On Your Own”, as well!
Our first bicycling itineraries in the 70s and 80s were in Italy and at that time all dinner menus included wine. As we expanded, we didn’t want to break with tradition so we continued to offer wine with dinner no matter where we were traveling. We realize however, that in some parts of the world beer is actually the specialty or preferred beverage of the region (think Belgium, Bavaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland!) and in those cases we offer both wine or beer. Of course we also always have plenty of water on the table too.
As general policy for ExperiencePlus! trips, tap water is available at meals and in the van unless the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises otherwise for the region of travel. Tap water from your hotel or from any bar is perfectly potable even though you may see locals drinking bottled water. Locally, water may be heavily laden with minerals and may taste differently then you are used to.
We really do pride ourselves (as do our chefs!) on providing you with extraordinary culinary experiences. So, we’d love for you to be open to trying all of our dishes! And, again, you will not be short on food. With multiple courses, there is room for you to enjoy as much, or little, as you’d like.
Traveling & eating is a pairing like movies & popcorn, carnivals & cotton candy or peanut butter & pickles. Well maybe not that last one, but we believe that the food you’ll enjoy on your bike trip is as important if not more so than the biking itself, but foreign countries can have unique dining rituals and fare that some are not used to. Here are a few tips for those epicureans out there that are constantly on the look out for the next cafe, bistro or ristorante.
Dining Etiquette & Meals
Each country has its own customs and culture surrounding meal time and cuisine. For more detailed information on your destination’s culinary delights check out our country specific travel planning pages.
If you have any questions about the meals or provisions provided on your tour, know that we are available to assist you. Feel free to contact us to chat at 1-800-685-4565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.