Ah, food and travel. The great combination that has led to multiple, long lasting TV shows (No Reservations and Bizarre Foods in particular) will now be covered on my blog. My tip here is simple: try the local food, but stay away from the touristy places. Not only will you save plenty of cash, but you’ll enjoy better food too. I have some tips for making the most out of your food while abroad, and I hope you enjoy them.
When researching trips, always look up the food options. Trust me, there will be local delicacies that will validate your travels. From personal experience, I can say the fabled hot dog stand was better than advertised. Keep in mind that there will be crowds in these fabled locations, so realize that you may have to wait longer to get your food. In some cases, these places will be cheap yet provide some of the best food you’ll eat in that country. I highly advocate for street food as well-there’s plenty of stalls to choose from, you can see how and what you’re getting, and they’re ridiculously cheap too. When I was in Poland, the pierogi and kielbasa vendors earned a ton of money from our school trip; we went to their stalls every day for three straight days, both for lunch and dinner.
Condiments. Know how ketchup is the condiment of choice here in America? Not so much in Europe. In Germany and the Netherlands, they prefer mayonnaise. Of course, you can get ketchup, but it’s one of those things that you’d have to pay for it and they might look at you a bit funny. If you really love fries with ketchup, prepare to adapt to other substitutes.
As I’ve mentioned previously, avoid restaurants that cater to tourists. You’re basically going to overpay for food that you can more than likely get back at home. You’ll most likely see a lot of these right off of the main locations in the city you’re in; I’ve seen a lot of them in the main squares where everybody passes through. Case in point: Tallinn, Estonia. Perusing through menus offered by restaurants that were off of the main square, they were criminally expensive-the equivalent to almost $20. However, by walking a block or two I found a small yet great place to eat. It cost me a total of 8 Euros, or about $12. It was extremely satisfying and great use of my dwindling amount of cash I had on me (I tipped rather generously to my tour guide previously). Generally adhering to this principle can really free up money for other fancier things in the long run, and it lets you have a very much authentic meal.
One thing I’ve noticed as well is that other countries have better twists on our American fast food. When I was in Iceland, we went to two fairly expensive restaurants, both of which were fast food places done better. One was a burger place and the other was a pizza place tucked away in a Reykjavik residential neighborhood. At the burger place, it was a gourmet burger joint. The average cost for a burger? Roughly $15 or so, which you maybe thinking that that’s ridiculous. Yeah it was a lot for a single burger, but to this very day, it’s the golden standard that I hold my burgers to. It large and absolutely meaty. I’m talking about having to slice it with a knife large because I couldn’t physically hold it in my hands without making a mess of myself. I also ordered a milkshake that was made partially from a local dairy farm-delicious! The pizza place we went to took us a while to reach, as it was far from the center of Reykjavik and was disguised as a house. No matter, as the scrumptious pizza erased any anguish of having to find it. As I recall, we paid $15 or so for one large gourmet pizza that came with chicken and shrimp on it. Not your typical pizza eh? Man, I do miss these restaurants for their creativity.
I hope these little tips/stories of mine really will help you all out about food when traveling. If you have any tips or anecdotes of your own, share them, as I’d love to hear from you all!