Why I love McDonals for traveling

McDonald’s, a great American institution, a place I lovingly referred to as the “The Golden Arches” when I was a child. Truth be told, I never really go to McDonald’s. However, when I visit another country it is almost always a required destination.

Free Wifi

I don’t really have to explain how useful this is, right? The internet makes the world go round brothas and sistas! Got some down time? Need to find directions to your next destination? Need to call someone but don’t have a phone? Have to check your email, get in contact with family, need to read your favorite blog, load your pictures/ video online???  Yea free wifi. It’s a good thing.

Charge Up

Yea, food is fuel, but I’m not talking about that. Whether it’s your laptop, iPad, or trusty iPhone, these batteries don’t exactly last very long. Mickey D’s can be a great place for taking a little break from walking and charging up all your devices for the road.

Cheap Food

Nuff Said

Let’s face it, you can say you love the fries or chicken nuggets or whatever at McDonald’s all you want, but if they were to cost more than a few dollars you would probably look elsewhere. Macas is cheap! It’s true that if you find yourself in southeast asia, eastern europe, or africa, you will probably be able to find cheaper street food options but in places like Europe, North America and Oceania the prices are really hard to beat. You can get pretty damn full on $5 or less.

When I lived in Sydney (a very expensive city), even though Mickey D’s wasn’t cheap by American standards, they had a few gems like the oddly cheap (obligatory) 50 cent ice cream cone. I’m convinced this is the cheapest thing, by far, that you can purchase in OZ. Also, when I was finishing my trek in New Zealand, me and a buddy pretty much ran out of money before returning to OZ and had to eat every meal for our last two days at McDonald’s. Not the greatest thing ever, but hey, it was the only thing we could afford!

Besides being cheap, the food is generally safe to eat as well. This isn’t a huge concern in most places but while a Big Mac may not be the healthiest thing you can eat, it usually won’t give you food poisoning or anything terrible like that which you run a greater risk  of when eating food from unregulated street vendors.

Clean(er) Public Bathrooms

Are you gonna eat off the floor of these bathrooms? I really, really hope not (You sick person). BUT, in general, McDonald’s bathrooms are a lot cleaner than your other options. Living on the road you get used to a little more filth than usual but appreciation for a clean porcelain throne is universal.

Macas is also a great option when you just can’t find a public toilet.  For some odd reason, even in NYC, a city of 9 million people, there are almost no public places to displace your waste. I mean seriously! With the exception of McDonald’s, good luck finding a bathroom you can hang out in.

If you’ve been traveling for a while, you sometimes get a little… odorous (that’s me being modest). These bathrooms are great for an impromptu bird bath and face wash. A great way to freshen up.

Culture

What’s more cultural than a McDonald’s? You’re right… I don’t know! McDonald’s is something every American can relate to, even if they aren’t a huge customer, so seeing it abroad is a somewhat comforting feeling. It gives you a sense of familiarity even when you’re very far from home.

What I think is great is that, each one that you encounter abroad will be infused with a local flavor. Just exploring their menu can give you insight into what some of the more popular food offerings are in that area.  Also, McDonald’s is akin to a watering hole where all types of people gather and can give you a great sense of the place you’re in. I can’t tell you how different the people who go to McDonald’s in NYC are than those in South Carolina or Utah for example.

Besides, if you’re just hanging out in the hope for some free entertainment or a great story, McDonald’s is a great place to start. I’ve seen marriage proposals, a drunk kid (jokingly)(maybe…?) offer to sell a cop drugs, and a series of fights over line cutting. If nothing else, McDonald’s is a darn good time.

Cool Down & Drink Up

I sweat a lot. I mean a lot, a lot. Like “did you just fall in a lake?” a lot. McDonald’s is a perfect refuge from the heat and the sun. Sometimes all you need is a little relief and Ronald McDonald is always there with open arms.

In addition to the nice AC, you can usually talk your way into getting some free and clean water. Even if you don’t eat anything, staying hydrated is really important. Drinking the water can sometimes be dangerous (think Mexico) and require you to purchase expensive bottled water which is bad for the enviroment and bad for your walet.