For Foodies, Travel is Much More Than a Destination
Traveling is a wonderful thing, it’s not just about having a few days off from work or school, or having a break from other responsibilities. It’s about exploring, trying out new things, learning, enjoying yourself while making new memories with the ones you love. Yeah, it sounds cheesy and a bit like something out of a Hallmark movie, but you get it, right? Traveling with your family gives you a wonderful opportunity to bond while being adventurous.
But with all the tourist traps, new sights to see, comfortable hotel beds and all those plans, it’s easy to forget about something incredibly important: your meals. Often times when traveling this becomes an afterthought, something that comes to mind only when you feel that rumbling in your stomach and realize that, now that you’re far from home, you have absolutely no idea where to go to eat.
Well, worry not! Below you’ll find three simple – yet effective – tips on how to find awesome restaurants while traveling.
Avoid Chain Restaurants / Franchises
When going out to eat with your family, try to avoid going to chain restaurants or franchises. It might seem like a safe bet, however, one of the wonderful things about traveling is having the chance to try new things. Doing this with your family gives you a great opportunity to create wonderful memories together.
Restaurants like Applebees and Olive Garden will always be around. They are comfortable, they are familiar… And they are tempting. When you’ve been surrounded by new things, when tensions are rising a bit high between you and your friends or family, it’s easy to want to go for something you already know. All these chain restaurants have the same décor, no matter where they are, and they all have the same exact menu that is prepared in the exact same way. And therein lays their appeal: you already know that they have something you like. Even as you park your car you probably already have some idea of what everyone is going to order – and where’s the fun in that?. And while that is their greatest advantage, it is also why these restaurants can never compare to local or family owned establishments.
Traveling is about experiencing new things, seeing new sights. It’s about getting to know a new place and taking in all that they have to offer. Because franchises must stick to their menu, they can’t venture out and explore the local cuisine of the area. A Red Lobster will always offer seafood, even if it’s located right in the middle of Arizona. Family owned restaurants are more likely to take advantage of the resources available locally. They’ll probably serve fruits that were bought at a nearby farmer’s market, or they’ll probably have their city’s iconic dish proudly displayed on their menu. In fact, their menus might be filled with things you never tried before, giving you and your family a chance to be adventurous even when relaxing. This is a great way to bond and make new memories.
Think about it, what makes for a more memorable vacation: trying out new foods at a restaurant you can’t find anywhere else in the world, or going to the same familiar restaurant that you have at home?
Use Online Services
Getting lost or eating at a bad restaurant might make for a funny story a few years down the line, but I’m sure most of us would rather talk about something else during future Christmas dinners. Yeah, there’s nothing particularly fun about driving at night with no idea what turn to take, especially when your car is filled with hungry family members who are tired after a long day out. And there’s certainly nothing fun about passing through closed restaurant after closed restaurant until you finally find something open and discover that the food is far more suitable to feeding trolls than humans.
Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?
Luckily, this sort of problem can be easily avoided due to the mystical powers of the internet. A quick look on Yelp.com can help you find good restaurants nearby, and help you filter through the results by prices and features such as parking, if they are kid friendly or even if they take reservations. Yelp also gives information on what type of attire is expected, if the restaurant accepts credit card or paypal, and even what the usual noise level is like. And not only can you find out if the restaurant is open right at this moment, but you can also read past customers’ reviews.
After coming to a decision, you can very easily get the restaurant’s address from Yelp and input it on Google Maps so that you don’t need to worry about taking a wrong exist. It should give you a smooth ride to your final destination, giving you a chance to talk about something else during that Christmas dinner a few years from now.
Ask the Locals
If Yelp fails you, a good way to find awesome restaurants to eat with your family is to do things the old fashion way: Ask around.
Chances are that you’ll be interacting with tons of locals while traveling. Anyone from the hotel managers to the cashier at a store, and even people on the street… They all live around the area, and, they all probably have a favorite place to eat. Being friendly and asking what restaurants they like is a great way to get some first-hand recommendations. They might even know about some amazing hidden gems places that are not well known to tourists.
Or, you could also always ask other travelers. People staying at your hotel are in similar situation as you, and they might have gone to places you haven’t discovered yet. As someone who is also a traveler, they might be open sharing their experiences, and may even be looking for recommendations too. This way you can not only meet someone new, but also find new places to explore with your family. A great way to remember your trip is to make those travel inspired recipies again when you get back home.
Article by 570MENU, an online menu directory for restaurants of Northeast Pennsylvania.
— Sundance Vacations (@travelsundance) August 31, 2017