Ryan Taylor/ Red Bull

As the countdown to the Rio 2016 begins, T+L is talking to Olympic hopefuls about how they travel. Here, American Triathlon favorite Gwen Jorgensen shares how food is her focus on the road.

Travel + Leisure Staff

Every year, my husband Patrick and I plan a trip entirely around food–an Eatcation. I’m a huge foodie, and checking restaurants around the world gets me extremely excited. Before we take-off, I make sure to check out Yelp reviews and map out Michelin-starred spots at each destination. Anytime we can try new foods or score a table at a hard-to-get-into restaurant, I consider it a success.

The first Eatcation we took was actually in San Francisco in 2013. Even after three days indulging in delicious food, I felt like we hadn’t scratched the surface of the culinary scene there. That can happen quite often. There’s so much to try, and so little time to get to everything. It’s helpful for us to narrow the list to a select few restaurants or dishes. That way we can focus our trip and avoid rushing to fit everything in. Otherwise, some destinations would be quite overwhelming.

Related: How to Plan a Trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics

Having an open mind is also key when trying new things. Some of the best meals I’ve ever tasted were a complete surprise. I remember sitting at a winery in Croatia and being served what appeared to be a shot of espresso and a cookie. However, when I took a bite, the taste was completely unexpected. The “espresso” turned out to be mushroom soup and the cookie was savory. It was delightful.

As an international triathlete, I travel quite a bit. While I don’t often get to explore, I do make an effort to try the local food. Patrick and I joke that in countries where we do not speak the language, we play Russian Roulette with the menus. Sometimes this leads to a meal that exceeds expectations like goulash in Hungary; other times it leads to a less-than-enjoyable meal like conch salad. 

Eating like a local is a priority to me, and funny enough, my favorite Eatcation destination is Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota where Patrick and I call home. There’s something about discovering something new in a familiar place that is satisfying. Not to mention both cities are extremely underrated in terms of food. You’ll have to check them out.

As told to John Scarpinato

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit Team USA.  The Olympics begin on August 5th on NBC.

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