10 Unbreakable Rules for Traveling Gourmands

How to guarantee the most delicious trip possible, no matter where you’re headed

We’ve learned a lot on the road. From years of trial-and-error traveling, we have made enough mistakes and scored enough successes to know the secrets to making sure our trips are as delicious and adventurous as possible.

Booking a trip can be a huge effort — you’ve saved up to cover the flights and painstakingly chosen the best hotel, so why throw away a perfectly good holiday with horribly chosen eats? Of course, holidays where every last bite is to your liking can be few and far between. But following tips like straying far from too many English-translated menus and joining locals you see in line for foodstuffs will mean that the majority of meals will be local gems and worth a try.

So here are our 10 can’t-break, tried-and-true rules for everyone who travels for food…

Rule #1: Bring a sense of adventure with you. That doesn’t mean you need to eat fried insects or animal intestines (though we highly recommend them), but it does mean forcing yourself from your comfort zone, even if you try something once and never again.

Rule #2: Don’t hunt for comfort foods that remind you of home. Spending time hunting down hamburgers in Tokyo is no way to immerse oneself in the local culture. If you’re weary of exotic foods, have one meal that’s more familiar and then jump right back in.

Rule #3: Be a food tourist. Have fries and waffles in Belgium, try pasta in Rome and pizza in Naples, eat fish and chips in London, and so on. You get the picture.

Rule #4: Don’t be afraid to splurge at least once. Holes-in-the-wall are rife with fantastic food, but spending an evening in the care of a Michelin-starred restaurant’s chef and staff can be an unparalleled experience. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/localjapantimes)

Rule #5: Don’t forget about your diet, but… forget about your diet. All this means is, don’t eat yourself sick or make yourself feel too gluttonous, but realize that you may not walk past that street vendor again or have the chance to dine at a high-end eatery again, so feel fine with indulging a little more than normal.

 

Rule #6: The more foreign words you hear, the better. If you hear too much English spoken by fellow diners or if the waitstaff addresses you in English, skip it. Same goes for menus given to you in English — that tends to be the sign of a kitchen compromised by cooking too many tourist-friendly dishes.

Rule #7: Sit at the bar and talk to everyone. Bartenders are friendly and full of local knowledge, so chatting with them will give you insight into places that are new and great, and ones that are overrated. Same goes for locals sitting near you at the bar.

Rule #8: If you see a line for food, get in it. One of our editors saw a line in Warsaw outside a storefront, so he got in it. The result? One of the most amazing, fresh-out-of-the-oven doughnuts he’s eaten to date. (Photo courtesy of Arthur Bovino)

Rule #9: Learn the basics before you go. That means figuring out tipping practices and table manners, and studying up on common food and drink phrases in the native language. Don’t forget to learn “please” and “thank you.”

Rule #10: Always bring something home with you so you can relive the trip with your taste buds six months down the road.

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