Tips for a Traveling Gourmand

Tips for a Traveling Gourmand

Weave a trip abroad around passion for food and you have quite an adventure on your hands. Dodge tourist traps, discover cultural experiences and taste the real foods of a country.

European travel is a food lovers dream come true. Italian wine, French cheese, Belgium chocolate; each country promises the best of so many foods. Farmers markets and gourmet shops are found in each city and town, and the world’s best restaurants crowd into these countries. A good meal is always nearby. With such an affinity for fine food, unfortunately the market for poorly made imitation goods and restaurants flourishes. With visitors from all over the world, many of Europe’s streets have become overrun with tourist restaurants and shops selling expensive and poorly made items. To avoid these misses, a little research goes a long way for a travelling gourmand. Here are some suggestions for traveling abroad with a food agenda.

1. Subscribe to travel newsletters. Fill your inbox with travel ideas and you’ll have a head start for the next trip you take. Most travel newsletters cover dining options and they tend to stray away from tourist spots. Subscribe to newsletters from Daily Candy Travel, Frommers, Smartertravel, Rick Steve’s Europe, and Travel Smart.

2. Use online guides. Chances are, where you are going, someone has traveled for food before. Reading online guides(and checking to make sure the suggestions are still around) is a good way to plan a foodie’s day. The New York Times has a series of articles covering 36 hours in many different European city’s which includes off the beaten path restaurants and dining spots. Bon Appetit and Gourmet have food focused guides on several cities, and the Travel and Leisure Food+Drink section is full of advice for travelling gourmands.

3. Take advice from other foodies. Forums on Chowhound and Slowtravel have comments and reviews of restaurants all over Europe. Ask questions on forums about specific cities or search posted information for advice from other travellers. It may take some time to do the research, but taking advice from those you have traveled before you will help unearth great places to try.

4. Book ahead. Make reservations, especially during the high tourist seasons. Walking into the charming restaurant you’ve researched may be disappointing when you find yourself being turned away from the full house.

Many Europeans vacation during the summer, closing their restaurants for several weeks. Plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

5. Ask the locals. When dining out, ask the people around you for suggestions. Look for information at hostels and from your hotel concierge for nearby special places. Pick up a copy of the local community newspaper or stop into the tourism office for schedules of upcoming food events.

6. Look for locals tips. Belgium has Useit Maps, helpful maps with locals tips, published every year. In Italy you can pick up a copy of Osterie d’Italia for a comprehensive listing of local, sustainable restaurants. Tourism information guides walk through the trains outside of Budapest helping travelers. Seek out local advice and you will find the true food destinations.

7. When in doubt, stay away from fast food or expensive. Local specialties shouldn’t set you back too pretty of a penny.  Wander away from the tourist area and you will probably find the same items for less. Although sightseeing is important, these areas tend to be the touristy ones, so try and find some time to discover a more secluded area of your cities. These are the places you will stumble upon hidden gems.

Venetian farmer's market
Most European city’s have a farmer’s market to explore where you can try fruits, vegetables and local specialties.


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