Part of your travel planning may have included finding cheap vacation deals or visiting local budget travel shops. But in order to have the most satisfying travel experience, it’s important to bring back lasting memories of sights, sounds, people and tastes. In order to do that, you should also include eating on vacation as part of your total travel planning. Trying to figure out where to eat on vacation is difficult to decide before you get there. But once you arrive, there are very specific ways to eat like a local no matter where you travel. You just have to know the tricks.
Although it may be tempting to gravitate toward a person who is speaking your native language when you are surrounded by foreigners, resist the urge. Instead, try to communicate with the locals. Of course, this is easy if you are American and you are in an English-language speaking country such as Ireland or the U.K. But what if you are in Italy, and no one speaks English? You could easily convey that you are seeking a restaurant by using hand motions. Who knows? You may be invited to sit at a local person’s home dinner table, and be able to enjoy an authentic family meal.
2. Stray from the beaten path.
Travel guides certainly have their place. But for eating on vacation, it can't hurt to stray from the beaten path. Follow some locals who are obviously on their way to eat. They will no doubt be going someplace affordable that serves authentic local food. You can always hit the tourist restaurants another day if you want.
3. Order by sight.
When you’re in a restaurant or bistro and there are locals seated around you, pay attention to the dishes on their table. When it’s your turn to order, instead of choosing off the menu, just point to the plate that looks most attractive to you and tell the waiter, “I’ll have what they’re having.” This is a great way to inject adventure into your travels, and a foolproof method to eating like a local.
4. Don’t skip the street food.
Street food vendors in other countries tend to serve more upscale foods than our traditional hot dog vendors. Don’t skip the street food vendors abroad. You may be pleasantly surprised by the level of sophistication that foreign street food offers. The locals are in on the secret, and now you are, too. Bon voyage!