You’ve scheduled your vacation. You booked your airline tickets, your cruise, or even your train tickets. You’ve found the right place to stay. You even bought your trip insurance! But it’s not time to relax or close your computer just yet. Just a little bit of research can make your great vacation a truly memorable one. Trust me, this type of research is not a chore like looking for the best deal on airfare or hotel.
Let’s talk about finding fabulous meals for your trip. I live to eat, but even if you are a person that only eats to live, finding memorable meals can make your vacation just that much better.
You can start with yelp. But that’s for novices, you can find a great place that’s not just recommended by social media.
Staying in the US for your trip? Try Eater. This website will let you know about the hottest new restaurants, the best places for specific foods like dessert or brunch, or any number of other things. On a recent trip, we used it to find both fine and casual dining in the Washington DC area. The site lets you know about the latest food trends, and background about the restaurants. We made reservations in advance and the restaurants became one of the highlights of our trip.
Thrillist can send you in the right direction for food in a number of major international cities. Not only that, Thrillist can give you great ideas of what to do between all those great meals you discover.
Blogs are also a great place to find restaurants when you’re traveling. Looking at travel blogs (we’ll talk about those at some later date), is a good idea. The only problem is that you don’t know if the blogger shares your taste in foods. Maybe a blogger you follow talks about restaurants. David Lebovitz is a chef and cookbook author living in Paris. Check out his blog to find where he eats in Paris. (Sometimes he talks restaurants he visits while on book tours.) Do you regularly read someone’s blog? Check it out to see if they recommend restaurants where you’ll be vacationing.
Magazines are also a great place to find a great place to eat. Cooking magazines are the perfect starting point. Bon Appetit’s website has a page dedicated to restaurants.. Food & Wine is another great option. Travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure are solid options. Like good food with your wine? Check out Wine Spectator to find out where to get the right bottle to match your paella in Spain.
Willing to do a bit more detective work? Find out what the local newspaper in the largest big city where you’ll be visiting. Find professional restaurant reviews. These reviews often have reader comments associated with it. Visiting a foreign country? You can occasionally find a translation. If you are truly committed to finding a restaurant this way, you can even use google translate to help you along.
You could just use a simple Google search. Try search terms like: “Best meals on left bank Paris”; or “Great Lunch restaurants in central Budapest”. Google will find blogs, reviews and restaurant lists for you.
Is there one thing that you really want to eat? Search the sites I’ve told you about and add a search term for whatever you want to eat. On one vacation to Paris, my husband and I spent a day stopping to eat at every great patisserie between the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel tower. It was one of our favorite memories of the trip. I don’t even want to think about the calories, but the pastries were incredible.
Once you’re on your trip, you don’t need to rely solely on the concierge at your hotel. On a recent trip to Sedona, we asked the waiter during dinner at a great restaurant, for recommendations on other great restaurants we should visit. She came back to the table with a hand written list of her favorites. We went to two of them and they were fantastic meals at unique restaurants we could have only found with her suggestion. We mentioned her name a one, and the wait staff and manager knew her and we received even better service.
Take the time to plan where you want to eat on your next vacation. If any restaurant requires an up-front deposit, you can include this payment in your trip cost and it will be covered by your travel insurance.