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December 28, 2011

Anthony Bourdain Shares His Top Five Travel Tips

ANTHONY BOURDAIN- NO RESERVATIONS COLLECTION 6-PARTSeasoned traveler and punk rock celeb chef Anthony Bourdain  (host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations) presents his top five travel tips to avoid travel nightmares and make the most out of your time on the road.

Eat like a local.  Wherever you are, eat what the locals are good at or famous for, and eat where those locals like to eat it. Do not rely on your concierge for dining tips. He’s in the business of making tourists happy. You want the places that make locals happy. Seek out places crowded with locals. Avoid places where others of your kind are present.

Show appreciation.  People everywhere like it when you are appreciative of their food. I cannot stress enough how important your initial reactions to offerings of local specialties are to any possible relationships you might make abroad. Smile and try to look happy, even if you don’t like it. If you do like it, let them know through word or gesture of appreciation.

Visit local markets.  Get up early and check out the central food market. It’s a fast way into a culture, where you’ll see the basics of the cuisine.  You’ll often find local prepared foods at stands or stalls serving markets’ workers.

Travel prepared.  Be prepared to be stuck in an airport for indeterminate periods of time.  Load your mobile device with as many games, songs, apps, and e-books as possible to keep busy during long waits. Also, make sure to pack a battery charger to power up.

Get comfortable.  Remember to bring something scrunchy and long-sleeved, like a sweatshirt. You might need it as a pillow.

Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” Collection 6 Part 1 DVD is now available

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Travel Tips


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In America, if you "eat like a local", as Anthony suggests, you'll find yourself choosing between a Big Mac and Chicken McNuggets.

I love Bourdain, but this article seemed rather redundant if you are a traveler and BTW did he say Scrunchy? come on Tony, you are better than this!

Reading would sure be a lot easier if the comments were not Black on Lighter BLACK.
Black on white is sensible, Black on Black is stupid

My husband and I have travelled quite a bit to Europe, Asia etc and have been very lucky so far. On a recent trip to Egypt some friends of ours were constantly getting sick and were advised not to eat the fruits and veggies but I ate everything with no ill effects.

Sorry, did she say " can't understand why US people get a bad rap for speaking American..." well that's one reason why US people get a bad rap. They are not the be all end all. It's called English and we speak it in Canada too.

Regarding the eating tips - I lived in Taiwan for many years and travelled extensively throughout Asia. Eat what they eat is my golden rule as well. You must be cautious with some street food and ice cubes of course but it's the ONLY way to really experience another culture.

DEAR Paulo,
Love your country man but food does not exist there. Feijoada? really? Padarias for misto quentes? Salgados? Tasteless cheese? And over filled cheese/pasta dishes....Not a whole lotta options but very very very clean. Heck, beyond Churrascarias(which you can find in several first world countries and equal to)....I'd say just enjoy the beach, beers and queijo coalho - Oh, and unless you really NEED to see India for some sort of religious path, I'd stay well away from that food. Pack some beef jerkey, order your tea in five star places and make sure to bring your activated charcoal

I'm Brazilian and lived abroad for nearly 20 years in many countries. With all my respect to the US tradition of canned and packed food, x-ray desinfected meat , sauce and so forth, if you swallow a fly you die. In regards to killing food in Indonesia I would say anyone can get sick anywhere, specially if you've got no antibody in your sistem due to the canned and desinfected food. I've eaten everywhere in this world and never got sick.

The ie cubes with the holes are made by professional ice houses/businesses and their reputation/business is based on using clean water, but I am in total agreement with the beer concept!!
As for the bottled water, never take one if the plastic seal has already been opened, including if the waiter/waitress opens it before bringing it to you table, but yes there cases of fake water, just like many bottled waters in the US use tap water sometimes filtered and sometimes not. Bottled water in the US isn't regulated but tap water is, which means drinking tap water in most places in the US is better than drinking bottled water (and no plastic bottles filling our landfills). I read a lot about this when my wife was pregnant

nancy....As far as languages, there are a few different dialects in the US.....IE., "Like, I wanna ask you a question about different languages, ya know?"....or..."What's all y'alls think about different languages?".....and of course......."I be axing yous a question about diffrent languages, whatcha think?" I am also from Los Angeles, which just so happens to be the 2nd largest Spanish speaking city in the world, only behind Mexico City. Yo hablo espanol tambien!!! Somehow China, which has about 4 times as many people as the US, gets by on mainly Madarin, with some people speaking Hokien and a splash of Cantonese. My point was that Americans expect people to speak English/American when they are in the US, but also expect everyone in countries they visit to cater to them and speak english/american.

Jodi, sounds like we've tried a lot of the same things, sans the rocky mountain oysters!! One of my favorite "different" things not on your list is jellyfish. Some Chinese restaurants in Singapore make some excellent variations with them....MMMMMMMMM!!!!

I've noticed that I can take my knitting needles on airplanes. I don't understand why. A person could do a lot of damage to another person with knitting needles. But, I can't take a unopened bottle of water. doesn't make much sense to me, but then the TSA is about security theatre and not common sense.

Don't travel with people who will bring your travel experience down. They know stuff is bound to happen, planes will be delayed, that the seat will be uncomfortable (it's Coach what did you expect?), and yada, yada, yada, but they have to whine about it to you because you're the only one who will listen. A two hour delay is two hours you can spend people watching or taking a walk around the terminal before sitting for several hours.

I grew up in Hong Kong, home of many-a great street food, and did not eat off the street.. Most places in the developing world has no Heath Department that put forth any standards or licence whatsoever. Plenty of people are selling all kinds of stuff with no attention to health or cleanliness. They do not necessarily mean any harm. Most of it is simple circumstances and ignorance. If there is no clean running water or reliable electricity to make sure food is at the right temperature (street vendors), how can they make sure the food is safe? They can't even if they wanted to.

Most locals who regularly eat there have developed a much better coping mechanism over their entire lives. Your tender western stomach is just no match. So don't just follow the locals. You can't do what they do.

Great article, Anthony B., just trying locale cuisine and being nice people, using universally friendly communication, does wonders.

To 'Ron in Asia' : your monologue is as boring. I hope you and the 'hate America first crowd' do not bore people in other countries in this fashion.

Some people are just lucky, my son eats and drinks anything anywhere and (so far) never gets sick. His practice is to find where the locals like to eat, he also tries all the street vendors.

And about languages, I don't understand why US citizens get a bad rap about only speaking American. If Europe was as large as the US, I am quite sure they wouldn't speak anything but one language. If every state had a different language, we would probably all know ours and the ones around us. The customs follow the needs.

I'm an American living in Asia and have visited over 30 countries around the world. I have often been praised by locals for having 'a Taiwanese stomach.' Basically, I'll try anything at least once, although I may not like more than a bite or two. By being willing to try everything (including chicken ass, pig uterus, fertilized eggs, cow lungs, duck tongue, bull testicles, deep fried cockroaches, grass jelly, etc.) I've always made the locals happy and no one minds if the foreigner doesn't finish that helping of xyz as long as you are polite about it and gave it a genuine try. And I've discovered that I love pig's ear and unborn chicken eggs are a tasty treat. Plus, the more things you try, the better tolerance you build up.

Bourdain is awesome, but booooo on e-readers! Keep it old school, brother-- carry a true book.

Don't drink tea or coffee, drink beer from a fresh bottle or can. I don't even trust bottled water because it may be fake. Never use ice in your drinks. Never eat salades. Cheers.

What is this about ice cubes that have a hole in the center being the only ones that are safe?? Why is that?

I agree with the comments about showing appreciation and attitude. Americans have a bad rep all around the world in regards to their arrogance, so being humble and appreciative goes a long way with people of other countries. It also helps if you try to use some of their language, even if you only learn to say "Thank You" in their native tongue. I can say thank you in about 15 diffeent languages from my traveling.

Again, I am American, and the whole uproar in the US about "Press 1 for English" really bothers me and let's you know the vast majorty of Americans have never traveled to another country that speaks something other than English (we really speak "American") otherwise they would understand how ignorant their obsession with the whole world catering to them really is. There is actually a joke in many countries that gooes, "Q.....What do you call someone who only speaks one language??......A....American" Sad but true

MA Denson-
How are you going to knit when you can't get the knitting needles through airport security??

AS, have you been to India? If you have not, then, you have no clue. This is a place where even the locals fear eating out. When I was in Agra (about a month ago), there were numerous power outages everywhere--not many restaurants threw out their spoiled food. Instead, they reheated and served it. There's no regulations, no food safety standards, and many people (tourists and non-tourists alike) who have to eat something. In any case, many people became quite ill, as did my boyfriend and I. We were sick for a week. But, we were the lucky ones. One couple had to go to the hospital. Apparently, someone served them boiled (sewer-contaminated) water straight from the river to make their tea. India is a tough place to "eat like a local" unless you already have an iron stomach. And, I saw many locals who were quite ill themselves. Even when I followed the recommendations of solid guidebooks or others, I still became ill. Like I said, it's a tough place to eat.

Showing appreciation is so important; and don't take stock in other people's negative experiences as a precursor to your visit. Negative baggage is visible to others, and when that baggage is also vocal...I've traveled extensively and the most important thing I've learned is one's attitude dictates how you will be treated. Smile...and important courtesies of saying please and thank you will open doors and foster relationships.

Kayinhouston (and others who read her post), I am an american and have been to Indonesia over 100 times and eat local every time. It's fine to eat local there if you are smart about where and what you eat. Eat where you have to wait in line because others are eating there, and don't go someplace no one else is eating at. Don't eat at some place that has uncooked meat sitting in the sun, and if you are someone who gets sick easily, start taking acidophilus about a week before your trip so you can get some of the "good bacteria" into your digestive system. Stay away from all water that is not bottled or boiled (that's why asians drink tea),and only have drinks with ice if the cubes are professionally made, meaning they have a hole in the ice cube, like a donut/ Also, don't eat raw veges that are mostly water-based, like lettuce and cucumbers. I had mild food poisoning twice in Singapore, which is famous for how clean it is, and once was at a 5 star hotel, and the other eating a Subway sandwich.... go figure!!
Bottom line is you can eat in every country if you think before you eat and always travel with Imodium or somehting similar.

Whatever, tips from the guy that travels with guides and has producers book his trips ahead of time.

Tip #1 is spot on! I have found best local restaurants by asking waiters, bartenders and locals sitting at the bar where they like to eat. They tell me where they would take a first date, the new great restaurant that's not touristy, where to go with a group a friends, and a reliable hole in a wall.

Don't blame the hotel (5 or 1 star or local vendors). Remember when going into a new area you may need to adjust to the local bacteria and environment. I am among the fortunate and can eat anywhere and anything and have no problems, yet a friend of mine will get sick probably because she has a more sensitive stomach than I do. When traveling we always joke that her husband and I can eat anything with no ill effects but she will definitely will have a few problems. So lighten up and know your limits and enjoy your adventure.

Kayin, the fact that you got sick eating at some of the "better" hotels in India is because you at at locations meant for tourists. A local food vendor, whose clientele return on a daily or almost daily basis can't make a living if their food poisons people. The hotel on the other hand, knows you are 2-3 days away from where you ate their food before the food poisoning kicks in. They have no great incentive to care.

I always trust a local food vendor over a hotel when travelling to many developing countries.

Good to know about the best seats.
You can bring an inflatable pillow too & use your sweatshirt if it's cold. We used to pack 1 entire outfit & PJS when we flew from Asia. And we used them if we got stuck somewhere overnight or once when at the start of a 20 hour trip a woman spilled her drink in my daughter's lap.

Eating local is certainly cheaper, but I would not be eating local food in some places- like Indonesia, where you would be deathly ill the next day. My husband would get sick even eating cautiously in the better hotels of India. Some places you really do need to be careful or you will be very, very, very sorry as several non believing American friends of ours can attest to. "It looks okay" are famous last words before getting food poisoning and parasites.

You forgot to pack up your knitting for those long waits. Also attracts locals as many people in the world think Americans, particularly, cannot do/make anything.

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