Great Getaways: Foodie Travel

Turn your love of food into a delicious journey. 

Story by Barbara King

Fall is here and many of us welcome it enthusiastically, except for that part about winter, snow and ice following fall. Parents with school-age children are grateful to be back in a routine and many of us look forward to the fun of Halloween, the beauty of Mother Nature’s artwork in the annual changing of leaves and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s also an excellent time to plan a foodie travel vacation.

Did you know that culinary tourism is one of the fastest-growing specialty travel trends? The World Food Travel Association estimates it to be a $150 billion niche. Ten years ago many of the foodie trips were all about gourmet food, Michelin stars and cooking lessons geared toward Jamie Oliver or Giada De Laurentiis wannabees. Not so, today!

Do you have a favorite food? Consider a road trip to discover the best burger, best pizza or best ice cream (be sure to leave room in the car for me to tag along!). Consult with friends and family who have taken a food-focused trip or look back on a vacation you took and see if you had a magical food experience. Take some time to explore what your goal is—serious cooking classes from a Michelin-starred chef, casual classes experienced in someone’s home or sampling a specific type of food in various destinations. Consider consulting a foodie-travel specialist, someone who might have the perfect connections to create a memorable and tasty journey.

Culinary travel is a wonderful way to explore a country in-depth. Think about a farm-to-table trip through Italy, or if traveling with children, learn how to make chocolate gelato or create your own pasta. Also, when traveling with kids, consider hiring a trusted child-care provider and setting an evening or two for you to enjoy an “adult” meal sans “Billy, I told you not to blow bubbles in your soda” or “Emma, please do not balance that spoon on your nose.”

Please don’t forget drinks! We all think of Napa for wine tasting. How about creating a food and wine pairing trip? What about wine tasting in Chile, Argentina, or Australia? Local beers and craft beers are so popular you could create a beer-tasting itinerary (after enjoying some of our own KC contenders, that is). How about coffee? Think Costa Rica and Colombia.

Another decision you’ll need to make is how you want to travel—by road, by air, by river or sea, or a combination of all three. Several cruise lines have themed food and wine sailings both by river and by sea. Sample the best of Irish ale with a week’s worth of discovering the Emerald Isle by car. Several hotels have programs that let you do everything from fishing for your dinner to refining your gourmet culinary skills.

Lastly, consider creating one special food experience on any trip you take. We’ve enjoyed a private, hands on cooking class in someone’s home in the Malay area of Cape Town, which combined great sightseeing and yummy food and was a great highlight to our safari in southern Africa. Remember, any city can be the “Best Food City in the World” with a little bit of planning and some well-placed connections.

Whether your taste is Jacques Pepin or Jack in the Box, a fine merlot or frothy milkshake, add a dash of travel and you will have an incredibly delicious journey.

About This Is KC’s Travel Expert

You might say that Overland Park, Kansas resident Barbara King was born to travel. The daughter of an importer, King has traveled the world in search of unique experiences. As co-president of Great Getaways Travel in Leawood, King has also searched the world for unique experiences for her clients. From upscale cruises to small ship expeditions, white sand beaches to bustling metropolitan city stays, discovering the treasures of the Galapagos to the Masai Mara, experiencing the serenity at Udaivilas to the rush and the utter silence of Outer Space, King creates one-of-a-kind dream vacations. For more information, visit