Kiara Cunningham | Content Marketing Manager
So you’ve planned a trip and you’re super excited thinking about all the fun things you’re going to do, see and eat. But the real challenge (the one well worth overcoming) lies in escaping the marketing ploys of typical tourist traps, getting to the core, back to basics, connecting with locals, and experiencing your destination the way it was meant to be experienced.
You get where you’re going, load up Google then do a quick TripAdvisor or Yelp search trying to find the highest rated place to eat that’s close to where you're staying. Wrong! Don’t do this, it’s mistake number one. Although there is something to be said for top restaurant guides and lists, you’re probably going to be dining with a dozen other tourists who had the same idea and are just as shocked by the sky-high bill as you are. You didn’t go traveling to stay in a one-mile vicinity, safe and boring, far from any real local action. And there’s so much more to food than that top rating which may or may not be a complete fabrication. Think about what you like about your favorite spots. Sure, the food is great, but it’s the atmosphere, the people, the setting, the environment. What do you see, hear, smell, taste. Your senses are heightened, you get that warm feeling of joy (and food) in your tummy.. them vibes.
Next, you’re going to want to establish your comfort zone. And then, break it immediately because you’re not boring, you didn’t plan a trip to stick to the traditional tourist routes and you remember how obvious tourists look in your own city. No, you’re an explorer, an adventurous soul looking for the next life-changing meal that will take you right back to that time and place for years and years to come.
There is no better way to discover and uncover a place and it’s people than by its food. You can’t put a price on knowledge, you can’t wrap it up in a shiny, pretty package and expect it to be the real deal. Locals don’t buy that. Why should you?
The Local Connect:
They know their streets like the back of their hand, they’ve tried it all, they know about those hidden spots that aren’t obvious from the outside or overrun with tourists.A huge part of making your trip memorable is getting familiar with local culture, history, and tradition. Who better to share that with you than a local themselves. Don’t be shy! There is nothing passionate foodies like doing more than exposing you to the local favorites. We love being “in the know” and showing off our knowledge. Ask your taxi driver, your bartender or the salesperson where THEY would go with their friends. Ezra Rabinowitz, who hosts the Jerusalem Nightlife Tour says he became a guide because “I want to expose the amazing Israeli culture through food & drink”. Similarly Kristl Story of the “West Palm Beach Gourmet Experience Tour” believes “the best way to experience a city is through food because food tells the story of a neighborhood’s people, history and culture”.
Research (the right way):
The internet in all its glory has made researching and seeking information so easy. So easy in fact, that the overabundance of information can be hard to navigate. It can be tricky to differentiate between marketing, tourist traps, and true authentic experiences. In addition to the typical travel sites, there are food blogs, destination guides, top 50 this and that, food sections in the local papers and magazines. Everywhere you look, information is being shoved down your throat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Knowing is what gives you the tools you need to look into and outside of that landscape. Search the FoodieTrip marketplace to find food tours off the beaten path and run by locals (we know! Shameless self-promotion).
Street Food vs. Fancy Restaurants:
If this were a competition we’d give gold to street food time and time again. It’s one of the most authentic, genuine and vibrant ways to indulge in local cuisine. The Food Walk in New Delhi, India takes you on a four-hour walking tour through some of the oldest parts of the city, the street food vendors dating back several generations of family run businesses. Loan Tran of the “Eat With us in Vietnam” tour promises never to take you to a tourist trap on this street food tour. Instead, you’ll be whisked around by your guide on a moped visiting only truly authentic Vietnamese street vendors.
Be Smart With Your Timing:
Festivals and celebrations are a perfect way to be immersed in the local culture in a fun and meaningful way. It’s the perfect platform to uncover food culture, traditions, and local history. Local markets often showcase fresh, delicious, locally grown produce where you can chat directly with the owner. From Oysters in Galway to New York City Coffee Festival and The Annual Mistura Food Festival in Peru, the largest food festival in all of South America, you’d be pretty unlucky to be visiting a destination where something big or small wasn’t happening.
According to Common Sense Media, people are spending on average, one-third of their day on social media. So be smart about it. Search hashtags for your destination. See where people are eating and exploring while getting a first-hand view of it with accompanying pictures. You’ll also uncover amazing street art and pop-up museums. And don’t underestimate the power of networking on social media. See something you like, want to know where it is, how to get there, just ask! Be sure to follow FoodieTrip on social media - we’ll keep you up to date with everything foodie!
Open Up Your Mind:
As mentioned earlier, if you’re not willing to leave your safe zone, you’re most likely missing out on the majority of the best experiences to be had. Get on public transport, hire a bicycle, walk, take taxi’s, whatever you need to do. Get out there, go places. As they say “half the fun is getting there”. You can go to a restaurant a block away or you can take that 45-minute ride out of town for the best barbecue you’ve ever had. We know what we’d chose.
Ultimately, follow your instincts and your nose. If something smells amazing, it probably is.
We here at FoodieTrip know how awesome it is to eat like a local, the FoodieTrip marketplace is the ultimate shortcut to getting you connected with locals, sign up and start searching, oh the possibilities!