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Oct 7, 2011 09:09 AM

How adventourous are you?

When traveling alone to a (very) foreign country? How do you prepare to make the most of sightseeing and food (naturally) opportunities?

I'm thinking about countries in which you don't speak the language especially, and where local customs are very different.

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  1. Where are you thinking of going? That should help people make recs for restaurants, manners, safe areas to eat and walk around, etc.

    I have not traveled alone to a foreign country, but I think the first thing I'd do (even if traveling with family or friends) is go to one of the travel websites (Fodor's, Rick Steves, etc) and get some ideas about accommodations and food, then I'd come back here and ask for specific names of restaurants. There are also enough people here of different backgrounds to give you some tips on table manners that won't offend, if you're headed someplace where they are very different from what you've been taught.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Isolda

      I'm going to be in Beijing for 4 days in November, and then traveling to Australia and New Zealand afterwards. I travel quite a bit with my work, but so far never anywhere that intimidates me like China. I have been reading lots of forums and restaurant suggestions here, but I'm having a hard time getting a sense of what it will be like there on my own, maybe because most of the sites also include lots of warnings about markets, foods, taxis, etc!

      I'm likely to choose my hotel according to where I will feel safe to venture out and eat (!!), and I will most likely order a tour to take care of the sightseeing before I leave home. I'm usually much more of a figure it out while there person, although I always look up recs for restaurants before I travel.

      1. re: Transplant_DK

        I would head over to the help forum on the RIck Steves website, get some tips on places to stay, and ideas for restaurants, then come back and ask people to comment on the specific suggestions you got. RS is great for hotel and safety recs, not so great for food.

        1. re: Isolda

          Rick Steves specializes in Europe. I don't think he covers Asia or Australia/NZ. For Asia, I have been happy enough with Lonely Planet Guides.

          1. re: babette feasts

            Correct, nothing really on Rick Steves but I have been spending some time on the Lonely Planet forums. Of course the recommendations and hints vary so widely that it's hard to know what to believe, but I expect I'll get enough info to take the plunge and reserve a hotel soon, at least!

            1. re: Transplant_DK

              Food recommendations are hard, because even Lonely Planet seems geared towards the sort of tourist who doesn't necessarily want to eat local all the time. Trip advisor is even worse, the highest rated restaurants are likely to be the ones with the most bland, deep fried western options. Do you know of local specialties you can ask about at your hotel, the best Peking duck or whatever?

    2. One of my favorite parts about traveling in SE Asia was how much street food there was and how little language was needed to make the transaction. I ate a lot of sticky rice with no words exchanged : ) Not to say that you shouldn't try to learn some of the language, but if the street food seems safe, pointing and gestures can get you fed without needing to translate a menu or talk to a waiter, and you know what you're going to get (or at least have an inkling) because you see it right there in front of you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: babette feasts

        I honestly don't see myself being able to learn much of any of the language before I go, but it's comforting to hear that pointing at street food will keep me from starving or holding up in the hotel. I've actually asked several colleagues where they have gone and where they have eaten, and they all said that they find a hotel with a good restaurant and basically live on room service while there. Hence the question on how adventurous people are in general when traveling to far away places.

      2. I'm a vegetarian, but I'm prepared to eat anything that doesn't contain meat, fish or poultry (and I'm categorizing things like bugs and stuff as "meat"!). I always learn how to say, "I am a vegetarian. I don't eat meat, chicken or fish. Please bring me anything else." I like being served new things and learning about them from the restaurant staff, hotel staff and locals who I meet along the way.

        My favorite stops when I travel abroad are the markets AND the supermarkets- I remember one day in Chisinau, Moldova last year when I visited three supermarkets in one day!

        1. don't worry. China is quite easy to travel around and eat. get someone at the hotel to write down for you things such as addresses of restaurants, you can't eat this or that, you're a vegetarian etc.

          i always get someone to write down for me names of local dishes, show the waitress and choose. but most of the time if i see some busy restaurant i just walk right up to people eating and point at something that looks good.

          and what it's like to be in Peking on your own? it's fine. the gawking is hilarious! stare back a lot :D some will turn red lol. now give a kind smile.

          enjoy the attention ;)

          1. I recently went through some of my deceased father's things and found a deck of "talking" cards from Northwest Orient airlines! You could choose a card for almost anything you needed to communicate and it had the translation for 4 Asian languages on it. Fun! I wonder if such a thing is still available?

            2 Replies
            1. re: sandylc

              I'm sure someone must have created an app for it already.

              1. re: cutipie721

                Yeah. Can probably just use your cell phone. No fun.