dining abroad

Are you heading to a different country for your next vacation? One of the most exciting things to do in a foreign city is to try the cuisine, but it’s important to remember that dining etiquette isn’t the same everywhere, and there are ways to better enjoy your foreign cuisine. Our Newark Airport parking specialists have a few tips for you:

Learn how to ask for the check.

No waiter or waitress appreciates the writing motion when a diner asks for the check, so make a good impression and learn how to ask for the check in the country’s native language. For example: In France, they say “L’addition, s’il vous plait.” In Italy, “Il conto, per favore.” And in Germany, “Die rechnung, bitte.”

Know when to tip.

While it’s customary to tip in a restaurant in the U.S., there are several countries (namely Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea) where tipping is frowned upon. In other countries (like Italy, Hong Kong, France, Austria, and Singapore), the tip will be included in your check, but you can leave more if you want to. No matter where you go, if you’re unsure whether the tip has been included in your bill, it never hurts to ask.

Ask the locals.

If you’re not sure where to go for a meal, ask a local. A hotel concierge will probably recommend the same locations that he/she recommends to all of the other guests, so go outside of the hotel and ask someone on the street. Many times, locals know the best places to eat.

Research dining tendencies.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner vary from country to country, so before you go, do some research. For example: In Mexico, lunch is usually the largest meal of the day and it’s served later in the afternoon. In Spain and South America, dinner is served as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and an after-dinner stroll around 1 a.m. isn’t uncommon. In Europe, you’ll find that salad is usually served after your meal instead of before it and in some countries (like Australia), an afternoon tea is common.

Learn what’s offensive.

If you’re eating in a foreign country for the first time, knowing what’s considered offensive etiquette can come in handy (especially if you’re there on a business trip and want to look professional). If dining in Japan, don’t stand your chopsticks upright in your rice; it will bring bad luck. If you’re in India, you don’t want to eat with your left hand, as it’s considered “dirty.”

Read reviews.

These days, foodies love to review their favorite restaurants, so use them to help you decide where to eat. Popular review sites like Yelp and Google+ can be a good indicator of where to go. And bonus: If the reviews are in the traditional language, you know you’ll be dining at a truly local spot.

Be wary of the water.

If you’re headed somewhere that’s considered underdeveloped (like Mexico, the Middle East, Central America, Africa, etc.), only drink water that is in sealed bottles or has been boiled. This also goes for the water you use to brush your teeth and clean your contacts. There are many parts of the world that have bacteria and pollutants in their water and while the locals’ digestive systems may be used to them, they can make foreign visitors sick. Even in developed countries like Australia or New Zealand, we recommend you play it safe.

Learn keywords.

Trying to figure out what to order when you don’t speak the language can be difficult, so do yourself a favor and learn some keywords. Knowing how to say or read things like “baked,” “sauce,” “fried,” “cheese,” “vegetarian,” “dessert,” “appetizers,” and other popular menu words can help you decide on something you’re likely to enjoy.

Have another tip for dining abroad? We’d love to hear it!