Andrew Zimmern is a man who knows how to travel. On his super-popular TV show Bizarre Foods, he demonstrates his knack for digging below the surface of any given city and finding its heart, often through its food. Zimmern is currently helping to promote a new app called Stray Boots that allows people to take, create, and share tours, so we asked him about the biggest mistake tourists tend to make — and the answer didn’t have anything to do with food. “Most people just stay in the wrong place,” he told us. “They look for the best deal when booking a hotel, and in the process lose perspective on the biggest issue, which is location. You’re saving money in the short term, but end up spending more money in the long term because you’ll be taking a taxi everywhere.”
When Zimmern stays in a city, whether on his own or with his Bizarre Foods crew, he keeps that philosophy in mind: “I pick a hotel based on where I want to explore,” he added. “I always tell the production company that we have to stay in the heart of the city, because the crew needs to be able to explore. Even if you’re a business traveler, don’t you want to be somewhere where you can walk around and really get a sense of the city?”
Stray Boots lets people create their own tours, which others can then purchase through their tablet or smartphone and take it themselves. “It’s a really fun, ‘Tour it, live it’ kind of app,” he said. “It’s great to see how people who live in one place can create a tour for someone else to take. A tour book is dated and is usually created by someone who doesn’t even live there. You can use a tour book for museums, but this really allows the people who know the cities best to show you around.”
Tours can range from day-long excursions to an afternoon sampling a neighborhood’s best burgers. Zimmern has created a culinary tour of his hometown, Minneapolis, which can be found here.
“I consider myself civic-minded, and I said yes to building this tour right away,” he said. “This really adds to the discourse; if enough people do it, it can make the world a better place.”