How to Eat Like a Local

Though we make a big majority of the food we eat, we have also had some really great experiences eating in awesome restaurants. We’ve had to learn the hard way a couple of times in order to get to the place where we are now. (I’m recalling a particularly awful tourist trap that we fell sucker to in Charleston!) But we’ve put those lessons to use and are now consistently happy if not over the moon with the meals we eat out. After all, who wants to spend money on something only to be disappointed? In this post we talk about some of our best tips and tricks related to how to eat like a local.

Ask a local!

In an earlier post we discussed how to meet people while traveling. Coffee shops, bars, on the street. No matter where you choose to strike up a conversation, asking people about their favorite places to eat is one of the best conversation starters we can think of. It’s often one of the best ways we get information and is one of the first places we start when doing restaurant research.

Check out social media.

We’re on social media a lot and even more so when we’re about to head to a new city. Instagram is a big resource for us because it’s such a visual platform. What we find on Instagram is often the thing that get’s us psyched to visit or turned off. Caroline has a knack for choosing great spots based on their feeds. She usually searches by city and location and then scrolls down to see what catches her eye. Then we go from there!

Visit the Visitors Bureau.

Before we started traveling for dapperQ we rarely utilized the visitors bureau as a source of information. Nowadays we wouldn’t dream of NOT using them! We’ve had such great experiences with not only meeting locals who are passionate about their city but also getting maps, current info on new restaurants and personal tried and true recommendations.

Explore on foot.

We start almost every day with a run and when we’re in a new city, we keep our eyes open for places that look cool that we then make a point to go back and visit later. When we’re not running we spend a good bit of time on foot, seeing what there is to see. We love it when a place has a menu on the window and are easily influenced by the “feel” of a place, especially if the exterior is inviting and unique.

How to Eat Like a Local

Willa Jean in New Orleans!

Use your nose.

When trying to eat like a local, use your nose! If it smells delicious, there’s a great chance it’s going to taste that way as well. Often times we’ll get a whiff of something amazing (cheeseburgers on a grill, pizza, stir fry … doughnuts!) and veer hard in the direction of the smells. Rarely has our nose let us down. Do you trust yours yet?!

How to Eat Like a Local

Bluewater Distilling Company in Everett, WA!

Keep an open mind!

Sometimes eating like a local means trying new things. One of my first food explorations was in my early twenties. I was offered some conch salad (raw conch plus some vegetables and lime juice). My knee-jerk reaction was “eww gross” but I stuck my fork into the plastic cup and took a bite. It was actually amazingly good and quickly became one of my new favorite foods. Lesson learned! If getting out of your comfort zone is difficult then start small and go from there. Over time, it’s possible that you’ll be able to become a more adventurous eater.

Read print media and blogs.

Newspapers and magazines have never gone out of style in our house. Though we use a lot of technology and also read a lot of digital media, we still love the old school way of finding new places to eat. Garden and Gun, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine and Saveur all have a place in our home. Sometime’s we’ll dog-ear a magazine to show each other something we found, other times we’ll take a photo with our phone that we then reference later.

How to Eat Like a Local

Aslan Brewing Co – Bellingham, WA

Use common sense.

This one’s pretty self explanatory but if you’re at what the locals are calling the best steak place in Texas, don’t order the spaghetti. Order the steak! Likewise, don’t order seafood if you’re hundreds of miles from the coast. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, it doesn’t really matter what meal it is, be sure to bring your own common sense to the table!

How to Eat Like a Local

Fire & Brimstone – Barnone, AZ

Attend a food festival.

There may not be another single best way to experience a ton of local food at once. Many food festivals require tickets but if you’re able to score one, go with an empty belly and have a blast! Some food festivals are completely free and you just pay individual vendors for bites and plates.

How to Eat Like a Local Recap

If you’re anything like us, you love to eat when you travel. In addition to just feeling full and getting the calories we need to keep our energy up, want to be able to enjoy delicious, authentic food. After all we may only be in a place for 24 hours or so and we want to feel like we made the most of our time and money. We’ve put the above into play when creating our Best Burgers and Best Ramen in the USA posts and are excited to roll out a few more lists in the coming months.

What tips do you have on how to eat like a local? We’d love to hear them. Please leave your comments below!



+ Van Life Vocabulary

Van Life Vocabulary

Is this a dorky thing to write about? It might be. But we decided made a post about some of the most common words you’ll hear on the lips of RV’ers and van owners because learning the lingo and jargon is often a good place to get started when you’re getting into something new. We also not-so-secretly hope that it will speed up the learning curve for you. We’ve found that almost all of the van lifers and adventure mobile enthusiasts that we meet are eager to share their knowledge with us but we thought it might make some of those early conversations with others a little easier – especially if you’re in the market for a vehicle and are looking to buy! Our Van Life Vocabulary:


Van Life Terms

How sweet is this van?!

This is just another name for your van or RV. It’s a catch-all term for whatever you’re adventuring in.


This is our own nickname for cool rigs that we adopted on a recent trip to Beijing. There were so many sweet mini-buses in China and many of them with the name Jinbei stamped on the front. The name stuck and it’s been on our lips ever since.

Cargo Van vs. Passenger Van

Our Ram ProMaster City Van is a Cargo Van. It came empty in the back and was ready to undergo a complete van conversion with very little adaptations. To learn more about how we converted our van head on over to our story about Wayfarer Vans. The cargo is in stark contrast to the typical passenger van which has seats to transport people. We’ve seen some cool set ups where people have done van life out of a passenger van but a lot of times it involves ripping the seats out.

Pop Up

Like the name suggests, the roof of your van pops up. There are all different kinds of pop up camper vans: some that pop up at an angle, some that pop straight up, some that only part of the roof pops up and of course, some that leak! Before you or someone you know cuts a hole in your roof, make sure you know what you’re doing!

Van Life Terms 1

We will always have a big crush on VW Vans, pop top or not.

High Top

No this isn’t a basketball shoe. This is a van that you can stand up in! Unlike a pop top, in a high top van is just up all the time. The benefits of a high top van are that you can walk in and out of your vehicle at any point without having to crouch down. You can also have additional storage with all that extra space. It also means you might have some additional challenges such as height limits in parking garages, difficulty stowing gear on the roof and reduced fuel economy.


The Bureau of Land Management just became your best friend if you are looking to live a life on the road. Why? Because as their website says, “BLM-managed lands represent the largest acreage available for recreation in America – most with no admission charge.” Make sure you check the site before you go to avoid road closures and delays.

Gray Water

The next time you do the dishes, take a look at the leftover water. Is it gray? Probably, unless you had spaghetti or something like that. Gray Water is basically all the used water that you need to dispose of in your rig except for toilet water.

Black Water

Don’t be fooled by a friend who asks if you want a sip of their black water. It is NOT a specialty cocktail that they’ve made for you. Instead, hand them a pair of gloves and let them deal with their own bathroom waste water. We don’t have a gray or black water tank but we have heard some stories from people who do!


Boondocking, also known as “dispersed camping”, is for some, camping at it’s best. It’s primitive, often in the middle of nowhere and without the typical amenities such as electric, water and dump tanks that you would get at RV parks and campsites. If you like taking the road less traveled, don’t want to be around a lot of people and want to avoid paying for a campsite, this might be the way to go.

Van Life Terms 2

Would you stay on this bus?!


Some RV’s have heaters that run on propane. Many are set up to cook food on propane. We had that kind of set up in our vintage RV but in our new van we are back to using a Coleman stove and relying on the little green cylinders to cook our food. We don’t have a way to hear our van other than our awesome sleeping bag and each other but so far we haven’t really missed it.


If someone mentions the word carburetor or if you happen to see this word in an ad for what you THINK is the van of your dreams, turn and run. As fast as you can. We had a carburetor in our most recent vehicle, the Chinook, and it was one of the worst experiences of our lives. Unless you are a mechanic or want to learn how to work on these kinds of vehicles, take it from us and avoid them like the plague. Lots of places won’t work on them (or can’t) anymore and if you breakdown (because you will) it will leave you high and dry.

Van Life Terms 3.jpg

Love vintage things, hate vintage problems.

Our Van Life Vocabulary Recap

The next time someone mentions boondocking, now you can nod your head because you know what they’re talking about. And if they mention black water, you know to stay well away from it. We hope this post has been useful to you! And if you’ve been at this for a while and have some suggestions for us of some terms that should be on this list, please let us know. We hope to see you out on the road sometime soon!

How many of these van life words did you know? How many of them are new to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave your comments below!







+ Top Camping Life Hacks

Our Top 5 Camping Life Hacks

My inner geek loves any kind of life hack. Who doesn’t?! The following post is a list of our top 5 camping life hacks.

  1. Start a fire with a tampon.

    You can do more with a tampon than just deal with your period. Pretty awesome if you ask us. And it’s easy, too. All you have to do is take the wrapper and applicator off and then light the string. Be sure to set it near the smallest, driest pieces of wood and voila … you can light a fire with a tampon … regardless of whether it’s your time of the month or not.

    Top Camping Life Hacks

    Place the tampon near the kindling.

    Top Camping Life Hacks

    Light the string and then add wood as necessary!

  2. Freeze water bottles and put them in your cooler.

    A little thinking ahead and freezing some water bottles will help keep your food fresh and also be ready for you to drink later on. Sounds like common sense but this is a great way to make the most of limited cooler space. After all you can’t really drink blue ice packs.

  3. Make your own baby wipes.

    Take a roll of paper towels (use Bounty – the cheap ones fall apart!) and cut it in half with a sharp knife. Then put the halved roll in a tupperware container. Next boil about two cups of water. Add one teaspoon of Dr. Bronners and then put the whole thing in the tupperware container. It’s cheaper than baby wipes and smells a little better, too. Plus it’s a good way to help you stay clean on the road whether you’re on a short road trip or living the van life.

  4. Use a cup to make a speaker.

    We’ve used this one several times because we love music but we don’t have an outdoor speaker! All you need is a red solo cup, a sharp knife and a smart phone and you can have a speaker! Eyeball or trace the outline of your phone on the solo cup. Gently cut a slit in the cup and push your phone down into the slot. You don’t actually have to cut the whole rectangle out, in fact leaving a flap will help your phone stay snug in the cup. Then, turn on your phone, pick a favorite song and start rocking out! Don’t pay any attention to people who give you weird looks when they see your homemade speaker. If they don’t get it, forget about ’em!

    Top Camping Life Hacks

    Solo cup awesomeness.

  5. Use Dryer Lint to Start a Fire

    If the tampon trick wasn’t good enough, we’ve also got a second way for you to start a fire. Lint. Not too long ago we had a dryer fire. It was scary! We are really lucky because it didn’t end up doing any damage to our house. It did, however, scare both of us half to death! How could one tiny, cute little ball of old t-shirts and sweaters start a fire?! Uh … because it’s flammable. Two lessons learned here: always check the lint trap for these little critters and save them for campfires in the outdoors because they ignite almost instantly.

    Top Camping Life Hacks

    Give your lint some purpose in life.

    Our Top 5 Camping Life Hacks Recap

Now that you have some new ways to start a fire, make some baby wipes, maximize your cooler space and become the life of the party with your new solo cup speaker phone, whatcha waiting for? Let’s go camping! Our camping life hacks should hopefully make your next trip a little easier and add a bit of fun. Have you tried any of these? If so, what did you think?! We’d love to hear from you, please leave your comments below.

Also on an unrelated note, did you know that we design Squarespace websites? It’s one of the ways we’re able to travel around since our office is literally anywhere we have wifi. If you’re looking to update your existing site or create a new one, get in touch with us today!SaveSave



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