As an frequent and avid eater, I love traveling to new places and trying new cuisines. Having eaten in countries across the world, I’ve learnt my lessons, and am willing to part with a few pieces of Travel Noms Wisdom.
For Big Cities:
Don’t do fast food chains.
You can get that shtako at home, you don’t need to eat it every place you go. (unless it’s your ‘thing’ to eat at every Whataburger you see, then ignore this). And, by eating fast food you could be realy missing out on some great local foods.
***A non-nom travel tip: if you need WiFi, find a fast food place. 90% of the time they will have unprotected WiFi and don’t require you to buy anything to use it ***
If there’s no one in the restaurant at peak eating times, then skip it.
If you have any doubts about a place and upon arrival see that it is completely empty – try somewhere else. I have made the mistake of ignoring my own advice on this one time too many, and will (now) always go somewhere where the people are.
Trust the locals.
Ask someone in a store or at your accommodation what’s good. If you’re in the states, yelp.com is your friend (it’s fueled by the user reviews and not the restaurants themselves). Otherwise look at trip adviser before you leave, especially in larger cities, some of the best food I’ve had while traveling was at places we looked up before venturing out.
Bring Your Passport
This one is mostly if you want to drink or plan on going to a ‘restaurant’ that is actually a ‘bar’. No one in New Zealand or Australia would accept my Texas ID as proof of my age, because they had no idea what a Texas ID is supposed to look like – we got turned away from several places before realizing that we needed to bring our passports with us as a universally recognized form of ID. And before you say anything: I KNOW. It made me so so anxious every time we went out to have the most important document of my young life in my purse.
Try a type of food you have never had before.
While this is a rule that is difficult for me to follow (because if a burger or Indian food is available, then that’s what I’m getting), but some of the tastiest food I’ve ever had was food I’d never even thought of trying before. Like venison burgers and eggplant curries.
For Traveling to Smaller Towns*:
Do a bit of grocery shopping.
Make food for yourself for a bit – or at least buy snacky things so you don’t spend so much of your budget on fries and soda. Going out to eat every night can add up, and I, for one, love a home cooked meal every once in awhile, even when I’m on vacation.
Check store hours.
This is especially true for smaller towns. There have been quite a few times when my friends and I would go out to try to find something for dinner, only to have a sketchy bar or a greasy (and never tasty or satisfying) fish and chips place be our only options because everything else is closed.
Keep some snacks with you.
Whether it be in your bag or car or pockets, keeping snacks with you can keep you from making a rash (and oftentimes terrible) decisions on what to eat based on how quickly you want to fill your belly with food.
*these points also work if you are traveling with children, but I’m sure if you have children you already know these things and are shaking your head sadly at me while said child is screaming at you for chocolate/a toy/attention. Godspeed, parents. Godspeed.