Last updated: 01:59 PM ET, Tue October 27 2015

Anthony Bourdain’s 6 Tips For Travel

Features & Advice | Robin Amster | October 27, 2015

Anthony Bourdain’s 6 Tips For Travel

Photo courtesy of CNN

Vietnam, Myanmar, Congo, Madagascar, Tanzania—they’re the kind of exotic locales Anthony Bourdain routinely visits on his globetrotting adventures.

Orlando? Not so much.

But the chef, author and television personality showed up in the land of Disney this week to deliver the keynote address to some 900 travel agents at the Ensemble Travel Group’s annual conference.

Bourdain’s take on must-have travel essentials—“comfort shoes and Imodium”—was just one of the things he shared with his audience. The star of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations and CNN’s Parts Unknown, Bourdain said he’s learned quite a bit in a decade of culinary and travel adventures

Among those lessons:

Eat what’s served to you

Food tells a story about your hosts and their culture. Sheep’s testicles may not exactly be—to mix metaphors—your cup of tea, but refusing that kind of dish will insult your hosts and cut off any potential there is for making an unforgettable connection with the locals.

Drink everything (within reason)

See the above! This may present a challenge, Bourdain said, citing endless toasts of straight vodka he’s been offered by his Russian hosts, and not just at dinner. “It’s one of the reasons I don’t travel to Russia that often,” he said. “My liver can’t handle it.”

Eat the food the destination is known for

Do you really want to travel to Asia and eat at a McDonald’s or stand in line at a Starbucks? Take New York City. It offers virtually every world cuisine plus a huge collection of five-star restaurants. But what really makes sense is sampling its deli. “Have a pastrami sandwich and some chopped liver,” Bourdain advised.

Street food: fear not 

The food on that hotel buffet may be more dangerous than the local offerings sold at street carts, Bourdain said. Spaghetti Bolognese is on virtually every hotel menu throughout the world. But that dish at a Bangkok hotel might feature days-old sauce while the pad see ew (rice noodles stir fried with Chinese broccoli and dark soy sauce) is a choice that’s both fresh and, of course, an authentic culinary experience, he said.

Misadventures are a must

“Put yourself in a position to have glorious accidents happen,” said Bourdain. Those accidents are what make travel an eye-opening, memorable experience. And they likely won’t happen by spending your time standing on a long line to see a famous sight.

Let people prove how nice they can be

Despite bad governments and political tensions, the people you’ll meet in your travels are (mostly) gracious and welcoming, according to Bourdain. Sometimes surprisingly so. In Tehran, for instance, Bourdain and his crew went out to dinner at a local restaurant. They were also celebrating his producer’s birthday that night. On hearing about the birthday, the owner of the restaurant and all the diners surprised Bourdain’s group by singing happy birthday to the producer—in English and Farsi.


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