7 Tips for an Unforgettable Food Travel Experience

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Would you travel for food? When I’m choosing my next holiday destination, the local cuisine is one of the first things that springs to mind. According to recent research published in WTM Insights magazine, I’m not the only one who feels this way. 93% of us take part in meaningful food-related activities while on holiday, and 60% of us take photos of what we eat when travelling. It’s no wonder that tourism boards are increasingly focusing on food travel as a means of promoting their respective destinations. We all need to eat, but these days, our relationship with food has gone far beyond that of mere necessity or a means of survival – we don’t just eat to live, but for many, we live to eat.

If you want to broaden your culinary horizons a little more but aren’t sure where to start, here are seven tips for exploring different cuisines around the world:

Spices for sale at Souq Waqif

Shopping for spices at Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar

7 Food Travel Tips

1. Do some research

Make sure you do what you can to educate yourself before you actually go travelling. Do some research, so you’ll know what different foods are on offer and you can make a mental note of which ones you might like to try. Check out what each country’s national dish is and the best places to head to check it out. Blog posts and review sites are ideal for this! 

2. Michelin-star

Sometimes, you just want a little bit of luxury. Why not go all out in a new country? Check out some of the best restaurants in the world this year, including Gaggan in Bangkok, Arpege in Paris , and Eleven Madison Park in New York . The chefs here really do know how to put on a jaw-dropping culinary experience, so it’s always worth trying to visit at least one swanky restaurant when you head to a new destination. Save up the travel funds – it’ll be worth it!

Roast wild bass in laverbread sauce at Tyddyn Llan in Llandrillo, Denbighshire

Roast wild bass in laverbread sauce at Tyddyn Llan, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Llandrillo, Denbighshire (north Wales)

3. Be brave

If you really want to explore all that food travel has to offer around the world, you have to be brave – although I speak from experience when I say that’s often easier said than done! You’ll come across lots of unusual foods that might be very unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before and you might find it hard to bring yourself to try certain dishes. However, pushing yourself outside your culinary comfort zone could lead to an unforgettable food travel experience.

4. Go on a food tour

One of the best ways to get to know the food and drink scene in a new city is to take a food tour. Many cities will offer free walking tours that take you around the major sightseeing areas of the city. A food tour is more or less the same, except that you get to stop at some of the best restaurants and eateries in the city. The Food Walk in Athens and Gwangjang Market Food Tour in Seoul rank among the best food tour experiences in the world.

Ulster fry on a Belfast food tour

Sampling Ulster fry served on a stick while on a Belfast food tour earlier this year

5. Taste local delicacies

Tasting local delicacies is one of my favourite travel pastimes, but it can be a mixed bag. You have to be open-minded, and you should prepare yourself for the fact that there are likely to be foods you aren’t a big fan of. The Secret Traveller blog by 1Cover lists Filipino ‘balut’ and Japanese ‘gizzard soup’ as being among the most challenging local delicacies in the world

6. Get to know the national dishes

All countries have a national dish, and these are often a great starting point when you’re familiarising yourself with new cuisines around the world. Once you get a taste for this, you can start branching out to the more unusual dishes.

The national dish of Grenada, oildown

The national dish of Grenada, oildown

7. Use food markets

If you really want to experience authentic local produce and perhaps even find a few bargains while you’re at it, look no further than the local food markets. You can often get fresher and tastier options here, and you’ll usually pay significantly less than you would in a restaurant or grocery store. Exploring Souq Waqif was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Doha, Qatar and I also loved visiting St. George’s Market while on a Belfast food tour earlier this year.

What are your favourite ways to get a feel for the true local cuisine when you travel? Let me know in the comment box below and I’ll get back to you soon.

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26 Comments

  1. December 17, 2018 / 3:33 pm

    These are some great tips, research is most definitely key. It will help you make the most of any time spent and making sure you try local and national foods is a must, you want to really try it all if you can.

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      I love finding out the best places to eat out at during my stay. I find other blogs to be such a useful source of information.

  2. Emily Leary
    December 17, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    Like you, I always love to sample the cuisine of the places that I’m lucky enough to travel to. I’ve stayed in Paris several times but have never dined at Arpege. This has to go on my bucket list!

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      I’d love to go there too, it sounds like it would be an unforgettable experience.

  3. December 17, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    I’ll be totally honest, I can be a bit fussy with food in other countries!

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      I can be at times too but I am trying to push my boundaries as much as I can.

  4. December 17, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I love the look of all the spices at at Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar, It is so clever what they can made out of all them ingredients.

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      They were so eye-catching and they smelt amazing. I’d never seen some of them before in my life!

  5. December 17, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    I like the sound of a food tour, as I’m pretty much up for trying out new foods when we visit new places

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:33 pm

      I love food tours. They can be costly but I find I don’t fully appreciate the full range of cuisine and the best local places to eat otherwise.

  6. December 17, 2018 / 10:32 pm

    I always try hard to go for local dishes, especially when I’m abroad x

    • December 18, 2018 / 12:32 pm

      Me too! I’m often not brave enough to try the really odd foods but I try my best.

  7. December 18, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Food and travel are intrinsically linked. I found that early on when I first started writing about travel.

    • December 19, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      I totally hear you! For me, it’s often the main reason I travel.

  8. December 18, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    I am such a fussy eater – especially in other countries, haha!

    • December 19, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      I used to be so bad that I wasn’t even able to bring myself to eat shellfish, but I have gotten better over the years.

  9. Dena Jayne
    December 19, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I love trying new foods, I’ll try anything, especially from other countries!

    • December 20, 2018 / 6:50 pm

      Oh you’re brave! I try to be adventurous but I still hold back a little with certain foods.

  10. December 19, 2018 / 9:44 pm

    I am not very adventurous with food when I visit other countries

    • December 20, 2018 / 6:42 pm

      I never used to be but I am getting better. I always tend to enjoy it when I do step outside my comfort zone.

  11. December 19, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    Research is so important! I really wish I was more adventurous with food!

    • December 20, 2018 / 6:22 pm

      It can often help to improve your trip if you do a spot of research before you go 😀

  12. December 19, 2018 / 10:49 pm

    While abroad I love to visit the local food markets & the restaurants outside of the main tourist areas as quite often they are much more authentic!

    • December 20, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      Me too. I wished I had longer to explore Souq Waqif when I was in Doha.

  13. December 20, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    Great tips! I definitely need to learn to be a bit more brave when it comes to trying new food! I have to admit though I love seeing the images of markets in different countries as they always look so delicious and vibrant!

    • December 20, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      It takes time, but it’s definitely possible to become more comfortable with trying unusual foods; I’m living proof of that 🙂