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  • Writer's pictureConnie George

Guilt-Free Fast Food with a Cultural Twist When Traveling

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

McDonalds sheep parking lot

Have you visited a local McDonald’s Restaurant when traveling outside of your area? I can practically hear some of you saying, “I don’t go on vacation to eat at McDonald’s.” But not so fast, my friends! I’m not one to tell people to stay in their comfort zone and expect things like home when traveling. There’s always camping in the backyard for that.

In fact, I want you to experience local culture. Even if that means mustering up courage, taking a deep breath and stepping in slowly. I’m here to tell you, whether your preference is stepping into the water one inch at a time or finding the deep end to dive into headfirst, McDonald’s can be a good place to include while traveling.

Let me backtrack for a moment.

I love this photo of sheep “dining” on grass at a McDonald’s in Wales for a couple of reasons. While humans have had to “step back,” we’ve seen wildlife leap forward. The murky water of Venice is now appearing as beautiful blue glass hosting swans, dolphins and jellyfish. In cities around the world, deer, mountain goats, monkeys and big cats have been photographed strolling along streets. And sheep visit a McDonald’s.

This photo also prompted my memory of a trip to Hawaii along with a travel tip I’ve been wanting to share with you.

At the age of 20, I ended up at a Honolulu McDonald’s. It was nearby my hotel and offered a cheap dinner. I was on a budget in Hawaii, trying to eat only two inexpensive meals daily so I could afford to sightsee during the day and go to clubs at night. No judging! These were a couple of my travel priorities at that age.

It was the first time I learned that the chain’s menu wasn’t only what I knew back in Pennsylvania. Among my familiar choices were local options. I recall trying something new though I don’t remember what. But I do remember that I bought a set of four smoke-glass cocktail promotional glasses there that each had a different outdoor Hawaiian scene sketched into the glass. I had those for many years.

Not convinced yet that you should step through the Golden Arches for lunch on your next trip? Let me share some incentives for you.

Needed Facilities

A meal break from exploring also gives you access to a public restroom and probably free Wi-Fi.

Lighter on Your Budget

How inexpensive your meal is will depend on the area you’re visiting, but it’s a sure thing that the cost will be lower than dining at a regular restaurant. Perhaps that helps you travel within your budget or maybe that opens your wallet up a bit for an even nicer dinner.

McDonald’s With a twist--- eating like a local

You may find tortillas, pita bread, rice, seaweed, lamb, shrimp, spam, curry, Kosher or vegetarian with local vegetables and fruits as part of your entrée, side or dessert. What’s on the menu may reflect the appetite of the locals and be influenced by popular nearby ingredients. You can even wash down your food with a beer in some countries!

Here are a few samples of what you may find as a temporary or permanent food when traveling:

Lobster rolls in New England

Haupia (a local coconut dessert) Pie in Hawaii

Aloo Wrap, Salsa Bean Burger and multiple rice bowl options (with and without chicken nuggets) in India

Chicken McWings and McKebab, a sandwich wrapped in flatbread instead of a sesame seed bun in Israel

McMullet breakfast sandwich of refried beans, cheese and salsa on an English Muffin in Mexico

Enjoy the aspect of the local foods and eating practices where you’re visiting.

Local Culture

In addition to the food, take the opportunity of rubbing elbows with the locals to see what families and workers are like in a natural setting. The clothes, the way they “queue up” (line up), ordering, eating, interacting. Take it all in!


Meals, especially unique foods, make for great photos for Instagram and Facebook. Even better, document your trip with a selfie of you with something unique that you’re trying.

Whether you step in slowly or dive in headfirst at that nearby McDonald’s while you are away, I invite you to stop by our Facebook page and post that you saw this blog, share about your experience and a photo of you with your Mickey D’s meal.

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Happy traveling!


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