Johnny Jet’s guide to eating abroad

Are you traveling abroad and worried about finding the best places to eat? Worry no more and follow this advice.

Here's how to eat like a local at your next destination. Image credit: simongurney/iStock
Here’s how to eat like a local at your next destination. Image credit: simongurney/iStock

I’m not going to lie: I love food. Almost to a fault. There are times when I’m eating lunch and I’m already trying to figure out where I’m going to eat dinner. I know, I have a problem. 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, buying bags full of mangosteens and rambutans (my favorite fruits), and stuffing my face.

I’m often asked how I find restaurants to eat in. My answer varies based on the destination, but usually, I ask friends who live there or I take to social media. I will often ask friends and followers on my social media channels (you can follow me @JohnnyJet) for their recommendations.

Train night market in Bangkok, Thailand. Image credit: Anusorn Tosuwan
Train night market in Bangkok, Thailand. Image credit: Anusorn Tosuwan

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. Every site that relies on user-generated content is susceptible to owners or competitors gaming the system, so I usually don’t pay attention to the best and worst comments. I also don’t rely on these sites as much as personal recommendations from someone I know and trust (like a friend or blogger).

If 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 nice 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 because they always know where tasty and 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 skeptical of the recommendations given by hotel concierges and taxi drivers since they may get kickbacks. 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.

Johnny Jet's favorite fruit: the rambutan. Image credit: Jonathan Austin Daniels
Johnny Jet’s favorite fruits: mangosteens and rambutans. Image credit: Jonathan Austin Daniels

If you want a more authentic food experience then 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 is a great way to get a sense of place.

If you have 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. I recommend and


Johnny Jet

Johnny Jet has traveled over 100,000 miles a year since starting his newsletter in 1995 and has visited close to 100 countries. On his website, he writes about how to maximize your credit card points, how to find travel deals, cheap flights, and how to benefit from insightful travel tips. He has hosted a television special on The Travel Channel and was named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Travel Influencers.