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I have a confession to make: I love food. Almost to a fault. There are times when I’m eating breakfast or lunch and I’m already trying to figure out where I’m going to eat dinner. I have a problem, I know. But in my defense, I believe one of the best things about travel, especially international travel, is experiencing new and exotic foods. Just writing this, I’m dreaming about walking through the night markets of Southeast Asia and buying bags full of mangosteens (pictured below) and rambutans (my favorite fruits) and stuffing my face.

Mangosteens from local market in Chiang Rai, ThailandI’m often asked how I find restaurants to eat in when I travel. My answer varies based on the destination but usually, I ask friends who live there and if I don’t have local friends, I take to social media (I’m @JohnnyJet on X, Threads and Instagram) and ask my friends and followers for their recommendations. Once I have a suggestion, I’ll take a glance at Yelp to make sure the eatery doesn’t have a really low rating, even though I know sites like this can be gamed.

Singapore food stallIf I don’t have access to the internet (and sometimes even when I do), I will look for a restaurant or food stall with a long line because that’s a pretty good indication that the food is going to be good and fresh. When I’m in an airport, I’ll go to the restaurant or food stand where the most pilots and flight attendants are in line because they always know where tasty, inexpensive food can be found.

When you’re traveling abroad, another way to find the best places to eat is to ask hotel workers. I’m usually skeptical of the recommendations given by hotel concierges and taxi drivers since they often get a kickback, so I rarely ask them. Instead, I ask the doorman or housekeepers because they, like pilots and flight attendants, know where the good food is and usually recommend local places with authentic food, instead of anything touristy and overpriced.

Thai food in Bangkok.
Another money-saving trick: Have a picnic by getting takeout or going to a grocery store, loading up on some tasty eats and finding a park to spread out in. Other tricks: dine during Restaurant Week or have lunch instead of dinner at a fancy restaurant. I’ve even searched online and in local newspapers for coupons. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.

If you’ve got food allergies or adhere to a special diet, there are a couple of great apps and websites that will translate your words so you can clearly express your dietary needs. A popular one is

Here’s Rick Steves’ advice for finding the best places to eat in Europe and not getting ripped off. What are your tips and tricks for finding the best food when you’re traveling? Leave a comment below!


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1 Comment On "The best ways to find authentic and inexpensive food when eating abroad"
  1. Anonymous|

    I ask the locals-the bartender, the shop owner-whoever lives there-I don’t even know the language but everyone knows the universal language-make the sign of eating. I am adventurous and go alone but the only way to see the world.

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