5 Reasons to Visit McDonald’s Around the World with Kids

McDonald’s can be a lifesaver when traveling to foreign countries with children. The familiar food, toys, and environment at this global fast food chain never cease to reassure my travel wary offspring. Here are five reasons to visit McDonald’s around the world with kids.

5 Reasons to Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

1. Get picky eaters to eat.

My kids can only be cajoled into eating bites of goulash and roast duck for so long before they are determined to survive on candy bars and crackers alone. My three young children, despite years of international travel and exposure to world cuisine, are picky eaters. Like many kids, they prefer foods they know and recognize. After a few days of travel with their parents encouraging them to take just one bite, my kids can’t be tempted to try anything else new or be convinced it is “just like a hot dog.” Enter McDonald’s. Those golden arches are a welcome sight for my “starving” little picky eaters. Chicken nuggets, french fries, and happiness—all in one convenient boxed meal.

Why Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

Dining at McDonald’s with my kids during our world travels (Photo credit: Stacy Jessee)

2. Find comfort in the familiar.

This is not about the merits or nutritional value of McDonald’s—it’s about the importance of comfort food for my kids as we traipse across the globe. If a meal at a familiar place means an evening without tears and fights to get food in my kids, then so be it. Children find comfort in the familiar, and McDonald’s can feel like hug from home in an otherwise strange and confusing new land.

Snapshots of a McDonald's Menu in Italy ~ 5 Reasons to Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

Snapshots of a McDonald’s Menu in Italy (Photo credit: Michele Chan-Thomson, Malaysian Meanders)

3. Keep the peace.

I choose to be that American eating at McDonald’s over that American with kids throwing a tantrum at a local restaurant. My kids are slowly learning to try new things and I prefer to pick my battles. My husband and I have huge expectations for our kids behavior-wise when we travel, and for the most part they do a great job. But if a visit to McDonald’s will make the journey on which we’ve dragged our children more enjoyable for them, I’m all for it.

McDonald's in Macau ~ Why Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

McDonald’s in Macau (Photo by Keryn Means, Walking On Travels)

4. Save money and time for other adventures.

While often more expensive than McDonald’s locations in the U.S., we often save money by eating a meal at this well-known fast food restaurant while traveling. We’re good about taking full advantage of free hotel breakfasts or renting a place with a stove so we can have eggs each morning. But it can be difficult to feed kids at the end of a long day when I just want to eat quickly and get my overwhelmed kids to bed.

McDonald's in Moscow, Russia ~ 5 Reasons to Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

Golden Arches in Moscow, Russia (Photo credit: Rhonda Albom, Albom Adventures)

Families with children don’t always have the time to go search for that hole-in-the-wall, authentic restaurant. Take Paris. My husband and I spent a fortune on crappy cafe food because we couldn’t walk any further with our exhausted kids. And, of course, the kids barely touched the food. But at McDonald’s, we know our children will actually eat. And it still costs less than a tourist trap.

A swanky McDonald's in downtown Prague ~ Why Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

A swanky McDonald’s in downtown Prague, Czech Republic (Photo credit: Stacy Jessee)

5. Experience McDonald’s with a foreign accent.

McDonald’s restaurants around the world provide a different experience than the Mickey D’s you know at home. For example, the McDonald’s we found in Prague in the Czech Republic was downright swanky. It looked like a trendy cafe with soft lighting, chic seats, free Wi-Fi, and power outlets conveniently located at every counter. We felt like we were eating with “the cool kids.”

You can get an Atlantic McLobster at the McDonald's in New Brunswick, Canada ~ Why Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

You can get an Atlantic McLobster at the McDonald’s in New Brunswick, Canada (Photo credit: Dr. Jessica Voigts, Wandering Educators)

Along with their standard burgers and fries, McDonald’s provides unique menu items in different countries to suit local tastes. In Japan you can order a Teriyaki McBurger made with a pork patty, Teriyaki glaze, lemon sauce and lettuce. In Malaysia, dig in to Bubur Ayam, a a Malaysian-style porridge topped with spring onions, ginger, fried shallots and chilies. Or how about a McFlurry Toblerone in Denmark? It’s an ice cream shake blended with the beloved Swiss nougat-filled chocolate. Yum!

How about some French pastries from this McDonald's on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France? ~ 5 Reasons to Visit McDonald's Around the World with Kids

How about some French pastries from this McDonald’s on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France? (Photo credit: Michele Chan-Thomson, Malaysian Meanders)

McDonald’s around the world with kids

McDonald’s may not be the right answer for every traveling parent, but it works well for my family. And that’s what parenting is all about—figuring out what works best for our kids in our specific circumstances. For me, a deep fried chicken nugget that we might avoid at home is an acceptable guilty trade-off for a happy child with a full belly when we are traveling. Truthfully, as we sipped organic milk at McDonald’s in London or polished off our second bag of assorted fruits from a McDonald’s in Belgium, I didn’t feel guilty at all.

Would you visit McDonald’s around the world with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from Travel Mamas: Photos of McDonald’s from around the world in this post were provided by Malaysian MeandersWalking On TravelsWandering Educators and Albom Adventures. Go check out their travel blogs!

About Stacy Jessee, The Restless Travel Mama

Stacy Jessee spent much of her childhood living abroad. She has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and Europe and hopes to mark more of Africa and Asia off her bucket list in the near future. Her family can currently be found living the expat life in England and exploring as much of Europe as possible. With three children under age 6 and another one on the way, their travel stories are rarely glamorous but always memorable. Stacy’s blog, Strollering the Globe, offers a humorous glimpse at the mishaps and mayhem that seem to follow her family’s travels. Connect with Stacy on Twitter as @StrolltheGlobe.

Comments

  1. What a fun post. I was glad I could contribute. There is something comforting about seeing a bit of “home” when we travel, and yet something bothersome at the same time. I don’t think my teens get the same feeling as they haven’t lived in the states for 13 years.

  2. The only time I eat at McDonald’s is when I’m abroad. My favorite McDonald’s memories were when I was a kid visiting Paris for the first time. We picked up a McDonald’s map and used that map to figure out where we were at any given moment. I also loved the McDonald’s in Zheng Zhou, China. They had a nice picture menu we could point at to say what we wanted. And it’s also an awesome stop for Americans in Europe who miss their ice drink (and free refills in a lot of places).

  3. We definitely visited Mcdonalds and other similar fast food places while traveling, however it was always interesting to try the local fare at those restaurants.

  4. I was so grateful for McDonalds when we were in Paris years ago with our kids. One of our daughters has a severe tree nut allergy, and none of us speak French, so there were a few times were McDonalds was the perfect meal option for a nervous daughter who wanted food she felt was “safe” for her allergies. And of course the familiarity for picky eaters … always nice!

  5. Jenny Brooks says:

    Maybe it’s very interesting to travel from M to M, but the food is not so healthy, That is the only flaw of this idea, I think.

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