How to Plan a Food Vacation

Now that you’ve heard about our favourite food travel memories, how do you go about planning one for yourself? You may hear people say that some cities are naturally more food oriented cities than others. Cities that stretch your culinary limits with new and exotic dishes and cities with all the big name chefs and restaurants. However, all cities have their own unique take on food and they’re all worth discovering if you’re willing to take the time to look and discover.

There are many apps and websites that can help you plan the ultimate food trip. Here are some of our favourites.

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor is the mecca of travel planning. Filled with reviews for hotels, restaurants and activities it covers all the bases. The site has reviews for cities around the world, not just North America. Restaurants are ranked based on their average scores given by reviewers and you can filter them based on your preferences. You can even book tables directly through the site if available. A forum on the site allows you to see what others have done before and helps answer questions you may have.

While on the go, Tripadvisor offers an app that can help you locate restaurants close to you and rank them accordingly. By creating an account, you can sync your bookmarks across the web and phone app.

Yelp

Yelp

Yelp is the place to go if you’re looking for food recommendations from food fans. It has a thriving community of food lovers across the USA and Canada as well as a few select countries in Europe and Asia. Outside of these countries though, Yelp doesn’t have a presence. The reviews are thoughtful and a good representation of what to expect. They have forums to ask questions on, as well as an events listing with local food festivals and other activities to find unique things to do. A quick search of the forum history yields plenty of suggestions of the best places to eat in the city if you’re visiting for the first time. Users also create lists on their profiles which you can use to inspire and organize your food adventures.

Yelp, too, has an app ranking restaurants nearby. There are also quick tips left by previous patrons of the restaurant to help guide your menu selection. Some businesses even reward you with gifts and special deals when you check in (account required) through the app.

Foursquare

Foursquare

You may be wondering what a social media check-in service is doing on this list. Foursquare is a place to discover where exciting things are happening and where people are spending their time in a city. Foursquare is primarily used through its mobile app (though it does have a web presence). Previous patrons leave tips which you can use to help in deciding what to order at a particular restaurant.

You can use the app’s location options to see which restaurants, bars, museums and other venues nearby are popular or have special events to help you decide where to go. Like Yelp, some places offer special discounts or deals if you check in. If you’re connected to friends who are using Foursquare you can see the places that they’ve been to, which ones they liked and tips that they have left there. Organize where you want to go with lists and follow other’s lists like these from Serious Eats for easy on the go navigation.

Blogs & Other Platforms

Eat Your World

There are many travel related blogs as well as independent bloggers traveling the world and bringing their experiences right to your computer screen. You can read about their best experiences, see their best of lists and have the right expectations when you’re on the road. Some great ones are Serious Eats and Road Food when in the United States, and Eat Your World and Travel & Leisure Asia for countries other than the US. Saveur Magazine also covers some food options from around the world. And if you’re looking for more personal experiences, Legal Nomads is filled with her food experiences around the world, Eating Asia is focused on Southeast Asian countries.

While not strictly a restaurant review site, the Chowhound Discussion boards are also a great place for information. You can use Twitter as a way of finding new content as well. Search using hashtags by location and type of cuisine that you’re looking for and you may stumble upon a hidden secret.

Word of Mouth

Lastly, if you have friends and family with similar tastes for food and have been to where you’re going, ask them for advice. There is nothing better than talking to people you trust and hearing about their firsthand experience.

A word of warning: as many of these apps and websites are crowd sourced and represent a wide range of opinions, you are bound to occasionally find some flops. Companies can purchase reviews to affect their score, even though some sites, such as Yelp, has monitoring to prevent these from appearing. It is important to take everything with a grain of salt and sometimes, reviews can be too good to be true and it is best to use your own judgment.

Despite that, we have had a lot of success finding great food and culinary treats using these apps and websites and they are our first point of reference when we’re trying to find unique food experiences while exploring a new city.

Did we miss your favourite food seeking aid? What websites and apps do you use?

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