Now I’m not claiming to be a “professional traveler” but in my opinion, my mom is. I’ve been to enough countries with her and have taken notes on how to get the most of a visit to another country, no matter the reason of travel.
Trip Tip #1 – Eat like a native. Upon arrival you may be tempted to eat at the restaurant in your hotel because you’ve traveled all day and you just want to grab a bite and sleep! This isn’t a goof idea for two reasons: first, it’s going to be expensive. You’re mostly paying for the convenience of being able to grab a bite right in your hotel. Often time if (if you’re overseas) the food will not be food native to the country but rather food for the targeted hotel demographic (American; European). This can be easily avoided by walking a few feet outside your hotel. I find that (even in America) mom & pop shops are the best. Avoid big fast food chains at all cost. I usually think to myself “I didn’t travel across the country/ocean to eat something I can get in Maryland/America.” At times an exception is McDonalds *gasp I know* I don’t usually buy it but I check to see if the menu is different. I’ve found that in eastern Europe and Asian countries the menus are worlds apart.
Bonus Points: Going to the grocery store and buying fresh fruits and vegetables, bread etc. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen this is great. Even if you end up cooking something simple such as pasta or rice, the difference will be in the spices and freshness of the food. No worries if your hotel doesn’t even have a microwave. You can still get fruits to stash in your mini fridge and other snacks and candies. ^_^
Smile apps such as Google Local, UrbanSpoon and sites like EatYourWorld can give you the edge of eating like a local.
Bon appétit and happy traveling!