Food and drink are a priority in my life. I’ve traveled to Portland for beer, Austin for ribs, and Hong Kong for duck. For me, a vacation isn’t complete without hitting up a few of the better-known bars and restaurants in whatever locale I’m in. This holds true whether traveling to a neighboring city or distant continent.
But how do you plan a proper foodcation? Just follow my guide.
1. Keep your ears open, and take notes. Notes are essential.
Maybe a friend told you about some enchanted experience. Maybe you read an article or heard something about a particular venue on television. Make a note of it on your phone and keep a running tab. At some point, you may notice that some of these are from the same area – ta-da! You just figured out where you’re going next.
2. Make dinner reservations a priority over hotel and travel.
You might think the hotel should be a priority, but unless you are traveling during the holidays or are Airbnb averse, there will always be a bed somewhere. It can wait. Your priority should be the #1 restaurant on your list. The one you’d hate yourself for missing.
Case in point: My honeymoon. My wife booked our reservation to The French Laundry three months ahead to the calendar day so that we knew we had it locked in, and then built our Northern California trip around our visit to this Michelin-awarded restaurant.
3. Start fancy and work your way down.
Once the first restaurant is confirmed the next thing you should do is get a running list of maybe a half dozen or so other bars or restaurants in the area. What else would you like to try? What would be nice, but isn’t a priority? Put them in order of desirability and price because unless you can afford Michelin-awarded spots for every meal, you’ll probably want a few cheap eats, too.
4. Do the busy work. The payoff will be worth it.
Mapping things out might sound crazy, but there is a method to our madness. Restaurants seem to cluster around neighborhoods. If you start mapping out where they are, you’ll soon realize that some are in the same general vicinity. Make a note and make each neighborhood a goal.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of lunch.
Check out the menus and restaurant times and see if maybe you can do lunch at one venue, dinner at another, and close out the night with drinks elsewhere.
By planning ahead, you’ll maximize experiences. You can also save money by going somewhere fancy for lunch rather than waiting until dinner.
Now that you know where you’re eating, find out what else is in the area such as museums, monuments, attractions, etc. You know, culture.
6. Leave room on the table. You’ll thank yourself later.
You can only know so much from the Internet and television. Make a point of listening to the locals. Start conversations and ask around. Some of the best places I’ve been to were ones that were never on my radar. It’s your chance to find local flavors and truly experience being wherever you are. Don’t overbook the trip.