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How to eat like a local on your next trip

Sure, there’s a Starbucks and McDonald’s on virtually every corner of the earth, but do you really want to eat and drink exactly as you would at home when you’re traveling? We suggest taking a break from what you’re used to learn how to eat like a local during your next trip.

Tourists in Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
Photo credit: oneclearvision/iStockphoto

Research before you travel

What type of food is the country you’re visiting known for? What are the local delicacies you should sample before leaving? Read up on your destination before you hit the road, so you know what to look for and what to get excited about trying. It’s also a good idea to see if there are any local food blogs. They often share a wealth of information on hidden gems, the newest spots to try and any food-related events happening in the area.


Eat where the locals are eating

One of the easiest ways to eat local is to steer clear of places you can easily find at home. Instead make a note of where the locals get their meals. As you explore various neighborhoods, stop into cafes, bars and restaurants that seem to be packed with locals — a good indication that you’ll be getting something delicious — that’s also authentic.


Ask around for recommendations

Most of the people you’ll meet during your travels, from taxi drivers to shopkeepers to the people manning the front desk at your hotel, will be happy to recommend must-try places to eat. If there’s a dish you’ve heard is a local specialty, find out the best place to try it. Is this particular city or country known for a specific drink? There will be someone who can tell you where to find it. The more insider information you can get from locals about where to eat and drink, the more positive your culinary travel experience will be.

Street food in Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India
Photo credit: tirc83/iStockphoto

Try some street food

There’s no better place to eat like a local than on the street. Whether you’re in New York, New Orleans, Bangkok or Mumbai, getting a bite to eat from a food truck, street cart or stall on the sidewalk is a great way to sample what the locals are cooking up and eating. Again, head to the places that are busiest or have been recommended to ensure you eat something memorable.


Check out markets

Markets are another great way to get a sense of the local cuisine and food culture where you’re traveling. Not only will you get to learn about local ingredients and discover new flavors, you’ll likely also come across people cooking and selling their specialties. Once you get the lay of the land, figure out what you want to try and make your way to wherever the food is (in most markets there is a central area where you can buy prepared food) and chow down.

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