It’s one of our favorite ways to eat while abroad; a long, lazy, outdoor feast under a perfect sky, having hand picked fresh fruits, breads, meats, and cheeses from a local market.
Picnics are a great way to eat abroad on a budget, but it’s an equally good opportunity to feel connected with nature, breathe in some fresh air, and generally take time to pause while travelling, and soak up / reflect on your surrounding environment.
You’ll find that this is a very immersive and local way to eat, and whether you’re setting up in a local park, underneath the Eiffel Tower, or pulling up some sand on a beach, some of your best memories abroad will be those DIY picnics.
It’s quite impractical to travel with heavy picnic baskets, blankets, and the usual gear you may have set up at home. So here is our guide to packing for a picnic when you’re traveling abroad. Picnics should be stress free, so remember to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you go.
Something to carry everything
By the time you have something to sit on, and a few light jackets, you’ll probably start wondering what to pack them in. Hotels or Airbnbs may make picnic baskets available, though failing this, any type of day pack will do, so long as you keep enough space free for your food.
Of course, it’s not actually a picnic unless you have food! Visiting farmers markets is a great way to source inexpensive, delicious local produce, though you can equally find amazing food by hopping between neighborhood bakeries, and it can be an adventure in itself visiting grocery stores in new destinations.
The type of food you get is up to you, but avoid foods that can easily spoil, easily melt, and can’t be easily cut. You can go all out with a spread of breads, cheeses, fruits, and juice, or another great option is picking up street food. Fish and chips is a favorite for a beach picnic, and many coastal towns have local takeaways where they’ll serve freshly caught seafood.
Our best tip for choosing food for a memorable picnic is to buy local. You’ll never have the opportunity at home to picnic with French cakes and pastries, or sip juice from a coconut which has been freshly cut down from a tree lining the beach. And not only does this allow you to immerse yourself in the local food scene, you’re also supporting small business owners and food producers with your wallet.
Because you won’t have access to all the utensils you normally would at home, and will want a minimum clean up, opt for finger friendly food which won’t be too messy (also pack something like sanitizer or wipes for washing your hands afterwards).
A fact we have to address is that picnics leave waste, and it’s incredibly important when spending time in local ecosystems and environments that you leave no trace. This means taking everything with you, and properly disposing of any food packaging or plastic containers.
The beauty of a picnic is that you can sit down anywhere, but that means that there may not always be infrastructure or facilities where you choose to eat. It’s worthwhile taking a trash bag with you in case there aren’t any bins.
We urge you to be respectful of local communities and local environments so that your picnic is a win / win / win (for you, the environment, and the community).