Travel Tip #3: Don’t rely on guidebooks or websites for mission-critical restaurant reservations
Eating is important. Our bodies take the carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals from our food and convert it into energy that allows us to live (remember the Krebs Cycle?). Eating is even more important when you are traveling because keeping your stomach from bottoming out will keep you from becoming an unbearable travel companion.
When you are planning your trip, you will notice that guidebooks devote several pages to restaurants. Some sort it by price ($ all the way up to $if you have to ask you can’t afford it$) others by neighborhood (honey, which neighborhood is our hotel in?), and others by cuisine (pizza or burgers…good thing Prince Hamlet is not along with us), but all have no shortage of recommendations. Google, Yelp and Tripadvisor will give you an exhaustive list of restaurants for a city. All of these resources are great, but they come with problems.
The first problem with any resource is staying up to date. Stonehenge has not moved in over 4000 years, but that Indian place could have closed or moved around the corner 3 months ago. And it is not just the printed publications that are guilty of this – online resources often have the new information as well as the old listed one on top of the other causing confusion and a very hungry person to lose what is left of his patience. The second problem is personal taste-and not just about the food. Someone else’s thoughts, impressions and review of a restaurant may not jive with yours. Finally, the restaurant could be busy. Too busy to wait for a table because you were hungry 2 hours ago. So what do you do? Do you plan ahead using guidebooks and online resources to decide where you will eat each day of your trip, or do you wing and trust that a delicious restaurant will present itself to you in your hour of need? The best approach is combination of the above.
Before you embark on your trip, use guidebooks, Tripadvisor, Yelp, advice from friends and whatever other information you can get your hands on to look for restaurants in the neighborhood of your hotel or wherever you plan on being around meal time. Make a list of the ones that pique your interest and put them on a map in relation to your hotel. When you get there, scope these places out while you are walking around. Are they where you thought they would be? Are they open? What do the menus look like? Do they look like places you would like to eat at? This sounds like a lot of work but it isn’t; you probably were going to pass these places to and from your walk to the metro station anyway.
When it comes time for supper, do not pretend like you are back home heading to your favorite haunt and mosey over right before you want to eat. Leave a little early and have a Plan B and Plan C waiting in the wings in case your first choice is booked solid, that way you have several meal options and time to decide before it is too late.
Know Before You Go
Do your homework before you leave by researching prospective dining options in places in areas you are likely to be, then when you arrive, check look at your choices to see if they meet your expectations.
By having extra time and extra options, you will improve your odds of having a meal you want when you want it.