Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in June 2018

When In Rome: Why Locals Are The Best Food Guides When Traveling Abroad

Karen Cottle

One thing you hear from a lot of tourists or out-of-towners when picking a place to eat are sentences that usually start with “I’ve read about this place in…” or “I saw this place on…” Once I hear those words, I know that there’s trouble.

I’m not saying that things that get featured in articles or on TV shows are bad. They’re usually quite good. In the case of American regional specialties, they’re generally spot-on. When going abroad however, it’s a whole different ball game. When abroad, I highly recommend getting advise from the locals, or frequenting the restaurants or bistros they favor. Here’s why:

Prices

Let’s start with what discussions usually boil down to in the end anyway. When comparing the prices of a restaurant or eatery the locals favor as compared to one that’s featured on travel media, it’s a safe bet that the ones locals favor are significantly more affordable.

This is usually the case because rather than focusing on tourists who are likely to eat there once during the trip, they focus on repeat business from locals. It can be rather hard to attract customers when your prices aren’t conducive to repeat customers at least 2-3 times a week.

Authenticity

One thing I have noticed is that food geared towards tourists is usually altered in some way, particularly when geared at western tourists. Usually, it’s substituting local flavors with alternatives that western palates are more used to. This means that rather than getting an authentic flavor, we get a flavor that’s designed to be more familiar to us.

This usually means that locals are dismissive of the dish because it’s no longer the true to the flavors they grew up with. This means that the eateries and restaurants that cater primarily to locals are more likely to prefer the traditional versions. For travelers who are aiming for the authentic experience, this makes all the difference.

Regional Variety

When perusing the menu for a restaurant that caters to tourists, you may notice that the menu will feature some regional specialties (usually the most popular), then populate the rest of the menu with items that are more international in scope in order to ensure that there’s something for everybody. This means that other regional dishes that aren’t as popular may not be included in the menu.

While this may not be a great loss for most tourists, for those who are really looking for a complete immersive experience, it’s these dishes that may one day turn out to be favorites. For example, Filipinos will usually highlight dishes such as adobo as a “national” dish, with balut serving as a more exotic candidate, but what’s become my favorite dish from the region is letchon paksiw which doesn’t usually get featured.

Recommendations

One thing I have learned during my travels is that no matter where you go, there will be locals who love to talk to tourists about what the area has to offer. Whether bragging about which place makes the best local favorite, or where the best places to visit that most tourists don’t know about are, there’s always someone who wants to talk about their hometown to the tourists. Local eateries are a good place to find them.

How do you usually find the best eateries when you travel? Let us know!

 

 

Two Roads, One Destination: Taking A Tried And Tested Route Versus Trying Something New

Karen Cottle

One of the things I love the most about travelling around the United States and Europe is that if you have the time, there are so many options other than flying. Backpacking, bus rides, train rides, and driving all become viable options. But most people are likely to go with what they know, sticking with familiar routes rather than trying something new. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both.

Old, Familiar Routes:

Pros

There is a sense of safety in familiarity. If you've already happened to enjoy a Monaco trip, with a nice luxury car rental and everything...why do something new? When preparing for a trip down a familiar route, you know that should anything happen, such as a car breaking down, an essential item getting left behind, etc., you know if there are places to get your car serviced or where you can go to get the essential item replaced.

Being familiar with the route also means that you have a much clearer idea of how long it should take you to get to your destination, which allows for a clearer timetable. Knowing you’re ahead of schedule will allow for more rest stops and the like instead of always worrying how much longer it will take to get there.

Cons

Too much repetition can feel like work. Part of the joy of travelling lies in discovery. Taking the same route to your favorite weekend spot can be a little TOO reminiscent of work. This can make the journey feel less like vacation and more of routine, which is something that vacations should avoid feeling like.

Another issue with being too familiar with a route is that it can lead to overconfidence. Leaving late because you know you can make the trip in a certain amount of time, not worrying about whether you remembered to pack something or not because there are stores on the way. This can lead to disaster if it turns out your usual route isn’t passable and requires a detour or the stores don’t have stock.

Trying Out New Paths

Pros

The chance to discover something new is always great. Just imagine a Ferrari hire in Marbella, cruising through the streets and turning heads in your awesome ride. If you’re travelling around the continental United States, a lot of the road routes often have little tourist traps and eateries that aren’t widely known outside the area. This can lead you to discovering new favorites and making your trips all the more memorable!

Exploring new routes can also be helpful in the long run in the event your usual route isn’t available or becomes over congested.

When travelling abroad, routes that aren’t along the more popular tourist paths often offer better prices for their food and wares. This makes it a lot easier to try out local delicacies or local crafted items without eating too much into your budget.

Cons

Even with GPS based apps to help us get to where we’re going, the chance of getting lost or turned around still exists, especially in areas where there’s poor signal. This is especially true when travelling abroad and can even be dangerous.

Conclusions

Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of each route type, what would you consider trying? Would you focus on the routes you already know, or would you try out new routes when you can?