Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Eat Good Food When Traveling

Do you ever get frustrated when trying to find a decent meal on vacation? ME TOO. It can be especially aggravating in tourist hubs where every restaurant seems to be offering the same thing for the "best price." You get ripped off, you get crap food, you get angry! Not to worry, I've gathered some of my travel savvy blogger friends together to offer you tips on how to keep your belly happy while traipsing the unknown. 

Rachel, quippy author of Rachel's Symbiotic Life, depends on Trip Advisor for restaurant recommendations, "I can't emphasize what a valuable tool that site can be. Having so many reviewers share such insightful information really allowed us to hand pick places we thought would be a good fit for us." In her recent travels around Europe, she found that straying from the main streets and looking for places packed with locals made for a sure thing when it came to impromptu meals. Read more about her recent trip to Italy here: Food in Pisa.

Jen, making Hawaii proud
Jen, fellow Hawaii blogger of Jenkakiospent one month backpacking through Europe with two male friends starting in Amsterdam (Netherlands).  Within a month, she visited Berlin, Poland, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Tuscany (Empoli to be exact), Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Munich, Salzburg, and Heidelberg. Dang girl, now that's getting around! Jen had the following advice:
To save money, go to the grocery store or farmer's market and have a picnic.  Europe's groceries were super cheap and fresh.  
Never turn down a food adventure.  I've never ate ostrich before and when the opportunity arose, I snatched one up without thinking.  Best foodie experience of the trip.
(In a foreign country) Learn how to say "please", "thank you", "hello", "sorry", "help", and "beer" in every language you will be encountering.  Okay, maybe "beer" is not needed for everybody, unless you are me.

Jen wrote many excellent posts about her adventures in Europe, check them out here: Jenkakio

Jen's first ostrich
Lindsay, style savvy author of Black+Blonde, just returned from her wedding/honeymoon in Belize, where she scored more lobster than my jealous heart cares to discuss. She offers the following tips: 
"First off, I would suggest avoiding the fancy restaurants. I love me some ambience and white tablecloths, but abroad (especially in the caribbean), it's a sign to go the other way.  You end up spending way too much money on mediocre food.
Go for the hole in the walls instead. We went to this roadside restaurant in Belize and had the best meal of our trip!  I ordered a coconut creme lobster tail and ended up getting two tails plus two additional sides.  The grand total for our meal? About $30 US.
It's a long told tip, but I would always recommend eating the local food.  You never know what you're missing until you try.  While cowfoot soup didn't really sound appetizing to me, it was still one of their traditional meals.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you get sick, but variety is the spice of life, right?" It sure is, thanks Lindsay!

Lovely Lindsay and her Lobster
As many of you know, I just returned from a month long trip to New York citaaay. I depended mainly on Yelp for restaurant recommendations, but beware, Yelp is really only useful when searching for something very specific like, "$1 oysters near Brooklyn." Otherwise it can be a rabbit hole of indecision. 

I keep a bottle of water and a bag of trail mix in my purse at all times while traveling. This prevents me from impulse buying a $15 hamburger because I'm too hungry to take the time to find something good. 

Stay in a place with a kitchen, if possible, such as a hostel, condo, or AirBnB. Cooking for yourself drastically reduces food costs and it can be fun to shop at the local groceries and farmer's markets where you can find specialty ingredients you might not be able to afford at a restaurant (hello, squid ink pasta). 

Lastly, if you find a menu without a trace of English, eat there. This often points to authenticity, and as long as you don't have any major dietary restrictions, you'll be fine just pointing to something on the menu. 

Hope you enjoyed our travel tips, if you have any you'd like to share, please do so in the comments below. Happy trails!


  1. I love the no English tip! I totally agree. Thanks so much for the feature, Gwen! :)

  2. What a great post and I have some new blogs to follow!

    I would add Yelp as a reference. It has great reviewers, includes the address, phone # and sometimes pics. They also have an iPhone app. I also get tweets all the time from visitors so I plan to do the same the next time I travel, tweet da locals! Some also use foodspotting, a social media app and site with pics of food but I'm not so active there.

  3. OH MY....I keep it classy, I know. LOL

    Anyway, great tips! I love TripAdvisor and go to review site. I even use it when I'm not traveling. It's so valuable. I love Lindsay's tip on eating local. So true!!!! That is the best tip of this whole post. Eat locally. It's cheap, safe, and plentiful. Plus, you never know who you will meet and what you will learn.

    Well, Gwen-Gwen...thanks for letting me give my somewhat (not useful tips. OHHHHH...stay tuned to your twitter, because I'm booking a flight to Hilo in September/October time.

  4. Avoid 'tourist' restaurants. Eat where the locals eat and you'd surely find good food.

    1. Great tip! Thanks for contributing, hope to see you around here again soon:)

  5. So many great tips! I love Jen, "must know how to say beer in every language ;)". Always stay off main street - check. Avoid menus in English - check! I do the same!

    1. We do love our Jen Jen! She knows what's up!

  6. Thanks for the vital tips. The pictures are looking fabulous! This blog just gave me the munchies....


Aloha Saturdays with Maggy reader! Thank you for your comments, I love hearing your thoughts and feedback.


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