Travel Tips Inspired by Anthony Bourdain

The world is still reeling from the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the well-respected chef, author and television personality. We’ve always been fan of his travel shows here at, mainly because he offered such a positive, unique approach to travel. Here are just a few ways you might explore new destinations a la Chef Bourdain.

Keep an Open Mind.

morocco travel
Bourdain once famously said that he preferred “winging it” rather than attempting to conjure up a “perfect” travel experience. Sometimes the train is late. Sometimes you try a restaurant that wasn’t in the guidebook and it’s terrible. But sometimes it’s delicious. He believed you should take the advice of locals and go home with people when they invite you for a meal. Basically, be ready at all times to change up your plans and go with the flow. Not everyone can do this full force the way he might, but it’s a good gutcheck when your bags get lost en route or you’ve got a case of “Delhi Belly.” Keeping your mind open to new experiences and your sense of humor intact will make your travel experiences that more rich and fulfilling.

Get outside your comfort zone and travel far and wide.

varanasi, india
Bourdain was a big proponent of encouraging young people to get an education through travel. He encouraged young adults to travel as far and as wide as they are able to see the world outside what you already know. This philosophy of getting out and mixing with people from all walks of life makes you a more curious, engaged and educated person in the world. Bourdain liked to think of food as the great communicator – trying cuisines that you aren’t accustomed to and breaking bread with someone very different than you was one of his favorite things to do.

Try Everything! (when it comes to dining)

bangkok, thailand market
While Bourdain understood that some travelers need the comfort of knowing that they can pop into a McDonalds when he or she is halfway around the world, he also believed in the old “when in Rome” adage. The only way to really experience another culture is to stretch yourself outside the typical things you might eat when at home. Now, I might balk at eating fried grubs in Indonesia or a Balut egg (with the baby bird still intact) a delicacy across much of Southeast Asia. And that’s okay. Bourdain would not expect everyone to enjoy all the strange delicacies covering the globe. But he would hope that you’d be willing to take a nibble of most things.

Immerse yourself.

india market
Bourdain believed strongly that you cannot untie the culture of a place from the people who live there, from the food they eat, from the landscapes. So if you went to France and only wanted to spend you time in the many fabulous museums, he’d think you were cheating yourself. If you popped over to England only to watch Wimbledon, stay in London and did not experience pub culture or the countryside, Bourdain would think you were cheating yourself out of the full experience any new place can give you. It’s an opportunity for learning and expanding your world, and yes – getting the full understanding of a place that you’ve missed.

Understand your place in the world through travel.

spiritual travel
One of the biggest lessons learned from a life of travel, Bourdain believed, is how the more you get out there and do it the more you realize how large the world is and how small individuals are. Bourdain liked to think that one of his own biggest learning takeaways from travel was that he did not have many or often any of the answers. He deferred to the local people when he was in their homes and he tried to listen more than he spoke when meeting new people. Understanding that you are not the center of the world is a healthy learning that Bourdain always promoted. It’s not about you when you’re traveling. If you want to be catered to 24 hours a day, book a luxury hotel or resort and then don’t leave it.

Travel logistics are never fun but you can be relaxed about them too.

tokyo, japan

One of my all-time favorite quotes from Bourdain is “When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.” You might think that’s a pretty extreme tactic, but to be honest, it’s not a bad way to go in a lot of cases. Instead of personally poring over maps and apps and spending hours trying to figure things out on your own in a foreign country, it can be money well spent to get a concierge or local travel agency involved to quickly sort you out. Take advantage of local expertise whenever you can. A professional will know the fastest, most efficient and most affordable way to get from point A to point B.

Anthony Bourdain believed in getting deep into a place to experience life and to learn about himself. He also offered practical tips for both novice and experienced travelers for exploring new destinations. His voice will be missed.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

-Anthony Bourdain

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