Where do chains fit into travel?
Should we feel shame when we stop into a Starbucks or McDonalds while we are traveling? We are lead to believe that we are not “real” travelers if we do.
In my opinion this shaming has no place in travel. Chain coffee shops and fast food restaurants that we have at home can serve a very important purpose in travel, especially if you are traveling alone and/or are in a place for the first time and are feeling overwhelmed.
If you are traveling alone stopping into a Starbucks or McDonalds can feel familiar. It can be the perfect place to gather yourself and reground before heading back out into an unfamiliar place. If you are feeling overwhelmed while sight seeing, stopping into a coffee shop or fast food place that feels comfortable to you can put you back into that exited mood that you might have lost with all the hustle and bustle of an unfamiliar place. The menu might have some different and exiting local flare that will be fun to compare with what you’re used to back home too! Just because it is a familiar chain doesn’t have to mean it won’t also offer some culture.
Also, stopping into a chain can feel safe. If you’re lost and don’t want to draw attention to yourself it can be helpful stopping into a place where you feel confident ordering off the menu. Often these places offer free WiFi and outlets to recharge your phone also, this can give you the time and the privacy you need to gather yourself and come up with a plan.
Do I think you should only eat at chain places you know while traveling? No, of course not. I think it is very important to go outside of your comfort zone and try new things. New foods, new experiences. Order off of the menu that you can’t read. Try whatever is put down in front of you! However, finding the confidence you need to be adventurous might only be possible if you are able to recharge in a place that is familiar.