WARNING: This article could cause severe hunger for food and travel.
Let’s be real– who doesn’t love food? One of the best parts about traveling is trying the local cuisine. From Schnitzel in Germany to Nasi Goreng in Indonesia– I am passionate about the marvelous foods this world has to offer. During my travels, I have unlocked secrets to finding the best local cuisine and avoiding tourist traps. I hope your stomach isn’t empty, because we are about to dive into a talk about drool-worthy dishes.
Here are a few ways you can make sure you are getting the best out of your culinary experiences while traveling:
Be bold and ask locals
Everyone knows that traveling gives you an automatic courage cape. So take advantage of that extra boost of confidence and interact with locals. Head out in the street and ask people where their favorite cafe is.
Without a doubt, this has been the best way I have found hidden, authentic cafes. Usually, locals are thrilled that you want to try a piece of their culture! This is particularly helpful if you have a tight window of time, get inside and grab a delicious bite.
Go where the lines are
If you see locals standing in a line, there is probably a good reason. When there is an outstanding eatery, the word goes around.
Instead of being intimidated by the line, pretend you belong there. Not only will it give you an idea of what locals love, but it can be a great way to connect with locals. This gives you a chance to ask them what their favorite dishes are and mingle with the local townsfolk.
Eat local produce
Traveling doesn’t mean you should neglect your health! Hit up a local farmer’s market or fruit store. Eating healthy overseas can be exciting. Some of the best adventures are right on your taste buds.
When I went to Southeast Asia I was in bliss with the large diversity of exotic and unique fruits. So don’t be scared– be a daredevil and try the fresh local produce. It’s a great way to make sure you are getting your daily dose of vitamins so you have the energy to seize your long travel days!
Venture off the main street
Please promise me you will get off the tourist strip. It is almost a guarantee that the food you are eating is not authentic and overpriced. By going down alleyways and side streets (during the daytime) you can find genuine, home-style meals for a fraction of the price.
This happened to me in Mexico. I spent 10 USD on two flavorless tacos at an upscale restaurant. Later that day I went down the alleyway near that same restaurant and got a local soup and dish for 3 USD with home-style hospitality. Eating as locally as possible is the best way to travel frugally.
Tip: Going to these types of places can be a little awkward if you do not speak their language. Make sure you have Google translate ready to go!
Check out food experiences
There are a lot of ways to find local food guides. Take Me Tour and Airbnb experiences are just a couple of ways to find some local guides that can show you the proper way of eating. I have even found several free tours that only require that you pay for the food itself.
What better way to get a proper taste for your destination, than eating with a local.
One sweet a day will keep the cavities away
I don’t know about you, but I have a massive sweet tooth. Unfortunately, eating too much sugar can be bad for your health and waistline (I know, I know, this news crushed me too). When you eat around the world it can be tempting to have a gelato lunch and dinner.
A good rule of thumb is to try one local sweet a day. That way you aren’t missing out on anything, rather you are just delaying a few experiences. Anyways, it leaves you even more excited for your foodie adventure the next day!
Be picky about street food
That super greasy kebab may look incredibly delicious, but apart from the cheap quality, it usually is not the best hygienically. And if you see that nobody is eating there, it may not be the best place to eat. Street food is typically calorically high, and while it is a great way to settle your stomach after a night out, it lacks nutritional value.
Before you call me a Debbie Downer, I think that trying street food is a great way to get a taste for the local cuisine and eat frugally. But you should also be aware of the consequences, and try to only eat at places with a good reputation. Especially if you are traveling quickly, getting sick in the stomach will definitely slow you down.
Eat when the locals do
A fun way to enhance your foodie experience is not only to eat as the locals do but also to eat when they do. Different cultures have different eating times. For example, Mexicans eat a larger lunch, whereas Italians eat a very late and hefty dinner. Depending on the season you are traveling, it also may affect when residents eat. Such as, if you are in an Islamic country during Ramadan, you won’t see many locals eat until their big feast at nighttime.
Besides eating meals when locals do means that you can socially immerse yourself into the culture. People use meal times as a way to converse and de-stress. I had some of my greatest social encounters with locals over a meal! When in Rome do as the Romans do!
Get to munching!
Food can be one of the best enhancers for your travels. It can help you connect with locals, understand the culture, and just be simply delicious. I have found that food is my favorite part of traveling because it has changed the way I even eat at home. And not to mention, food is the universal language of the world. Now that you have heard all of these glorious foodie tips, you are ready to eat around the world. Make sure you are hungry! Bon appetit!