Eating Abroad: Tips for Dining Out While Traveling

The best way to experience a culture is to taste it. Traveling offers a plethora of opportunities for delicious foods and extravagant meals that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Whether you’re just in a city for a day while cruising the Caribbean, or you’re spending a month getting to know a European destination, food is the key to really understanding a new culture. Keep these dining tips in mind the next time you travel internationally:

Be bold and try new things

More often than not, dining out in a foreign country provides an excellent chance to try new foods you may never have considered. Save those traditional American options such as a juicy strip steak or grilled chicken for restaurants back home. Now is the time to try the delicious smelling entree you can’t pronounce or trust the chef’s recommended special, especially if it’s something you’ve never had a chance to try before. Keep in mind, if you have any food allergies you might want to stick to those better known menu options with familiar ingredients.

Learn the etiquette for different cultures

Much like proper tipping customs around the world, many cultures have certain dining taboos that are best researched before traveling. For example, it’s considered rude to eat with your left hand in some Middle Eastern and African countries. In Japan, never stick your chopsticks into your bowl of rice, as this is a practice done during many japanese funerals. When dining out in France, avoid the temptation to eat the fresh bread before your entree. Read up on other cultural dining etiquette before your next international trip.

Dine with the locals

Trying to decide the best spot to eat lunch or dinner while traveling abroad? Instead of turning to the internet for recommendations, talk to the locals to find out where they love to get a bite to eat. Some of the most memorable, charming restaurants remain unknown to most tourists who are afraid to stray too far away from their resort or hotel. While always keeping safety in mind, don’t be afraid to ask a friendly resident where they recommend eating. You never know, you may even make some new friends!

Time it right

While dinner in the U.S. is typically eaten around 7 pm, this is not the status quo in other countries. Lunch may be the largest meal of the day where you’re traveling, and dining out for dinner might mean smaller portions or less options. On the other hand, some cultures might eat dinner far later than Americans are used to, with restaurants staying open well past dark. Additionally, the length of meals may vary from country to country. Be ready to take your time eating and paying the bill, and let the waiter set the pace for your meal.

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