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Trip Doctor: Best Food Apps for Travelers

food apps

We’ve road tested the latest crop of digital tools to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, from the perfect cup of coffee to a last-minute restaurant deal.

For Restaurants You’ll Love: Ness
While the popular Foodspotting app has mastered the art of predicting your next craving based on specific dishes you’ve said you enjoy, up-and-comer Ness uses its algorithm to deliver Pandora-like recommendations of restaurants themselves. The app factors in your preferred price point, cuisine, and more. As with the music service, the suggestions get better the more you use it. Free; iOS.

For Last-Minute Dining Deals: Savored
A cut above the usual dining deal sites, Savored offers discounts at surprisingly excellent (sometimes even trendy) restaurants around the country. The app is best for off-peak days or hours: on Sunday or Monday nights, you might be able to snag 30 percent (or more) off dinner at Mercadito, in Miami, or Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne, in New York City. Free; Android and iOS.

For Your Caffeine Fix: Best Coffee
If you turn your nose up at Starbucks, try these café-centric maps, which pinpoint independent coffee shops in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London (more cities are coming later this year). Staff-written reviews note brewing methods, Wi-Fi availability, and even the types of grinders used. From 99 cents; Android and iOS.

For the Best Local Brews: Untappd
Like a Yelp for beer-lovers, Untappd helps locate the best bars around you—and pinpoints their top microbrews. A notepad function keeps track of beers you like and ones you’d like to try next. You can also share your finds on Facebook. Free; Android, BlackBerry, and iOS.

For Tips From the Pros: Chefs Feed
Who better to seek out for advice on where to eat than the professionals themselves? This app canvasses well-regarded chefs in 16 global cities for their local picks. Insider tips range from Chris Galvin’s favorite quintessentially English meal (calf’s liver and bacon at London’s Delaunay restaurant) to Graham Elliot’s beloved Chicago deep-dish haunt (Lou Malnati’s). Free; iOS.

One to Watch: Evernote Food
Digital note-taking pioneer Evernote’s culinary spin-off might be the best new documenting and sharing tool for foodies. Built-in templates let you record your meal (with everything from maps to photographs) on the fly. When you’re done, your notes instantly upload to your account and become digital mementos of your gastronomic pilgrimages. Free; Android and iOS.

Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure’s Tech Correspondent.

Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Illustration by Joanna Neborsky

Trip Doctor: Room Service Tipping Etiquette

Room Service Tipping Etiquette

Q: Is the “service charge” on my room-service bill the same as a gratuity?

A: Though the exact definition varies from hotel to hotel, service charge usually indicates a pooled tip, to be divided up by the entire room service department. If your specific attendant was particularly good, you may consider giving an extra gratuity—but are in no way obliged to do so. To be sure, ask what the hotel’s policy is when placing your order.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo by Gus Bradley / Alamy

Trip Doctor: How to Bring Back Food Souvenirs

food souvenirs

Q: I love to bring food back from my trips abroad. What are the restrictions? —Alexander Bauman, Lexington, Mass.

A: The lure of forbidden fruit is strong—as is the authority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to confiscate it once you hit American soil. Why so stringent? The agency cites the example of a Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in California in the 1980’s that cost the state and federal government $100 million to contain. It started with a single traveler bringing in a piece of contaminated food. Add to that the threats of hoof-and-mouth and mad cow disease, avian and swine flu, and exotic beetle infestations, which can devastate livestock and crops, and you get a sense of why caution is necessary.

That said, there are still plenty of foods that you can carry home from your travels. You just need to be aware of the rules, which can be tricky—and fluid. Restrictions change as disease outbreaks occur. Look for updates on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service websites. And always declare your food: trying to bring in undeclared prohibited items can result in a fine of $300 for a first offense and more for repeat offenders.

Cheese and Milk Products: Hard and soft, pasteurized and unpasteurized cheeses are generally acceptable—that includes everything from Camembert and Brie to feta and mozzarella, even in brine. Nonsolid cheeses, such as ricotta and cottage cheese, pose problems, unless you’re a registered importer. Yogurt and butter are unrestricted.

Meat and Seafood: Unfortunately, almost anything containing meat products is off limits. This includes most fresh and refrigerated meats, cured and dried ones (salami, sausage, and prosciutto, sigh), and even dried soups and bouillons. (Some pork products are allowable from Spain and Italy, but—before you grab that chorizo—require official certification from the country’s health inspectors.) Pâté and foie gras in unopened hermetically sealed containers can usually be brought into the country. At press time, beef and pork products were allowable from Australia, Canada, Fiji, Iceland, and New Zealand with proof of origin (such as a grocery-store receipt or a label indicating where they came from). Seafood, including fresh, dried, canned, and smoked fish, is generally permitted.

Fruits and Vegetables: You need an official permit for most fresh fruit and vegetables, though Canadian produce is generally exempt, once again, with proof of origin. (Check the USDA’s Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements Database to see what can be carried onto U.S. soil.) Dried fruits, herbs, and spices (except seed-based ones) are by and large okay.

Pantry Items: Good news: oils, vinegars, mustards, canned or jarred meatless sauces, pickles, honey (without honeycombs), jams, baked goods, noodles, roasted nuts, candy, and chocolate are all basically unrestricted.

Alcohol: Anything less than a liter is generally permitted duty-free. Thanks to the 21st Amendment, it’s up to each state to determine how much alcohol you can carry. Most states limit you to a “reasonable” amount for personal use. If you’re from a control state, however, check with the local alcohol board to see if there are restrictions. Utah, for example, sets a two-liter limit. For the record: absinthe (anything bearing the brand name Absinthe, containing thujone, or decorated with artwork “project[ing] images of hallucinogenic, psychotropic, or mind-altering effects”) is not allowed in the States.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Video by Philip Toledano

T+L Facebook Chat: Italy

Rome

Planning a trip to Italy this summer? Want expert advice on everything from where to shop in Florence to what to eat in Rome? Join us for a one-hour Facebook chat with host Valerie Waterhouse, T+L’s Milan-based correspondent, on Wednesday, March 13th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Just head over to T+L's Facebook wall and ask away. Valerie will be standing by—don't miss this great opportunity to get all your burning Italy travel questions answered!

 

All comments are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Maria Pedone is Travel + Leisure's digital editorial intern.

Photo by Simon Watson

Trip Doctor: London's Best Walking Tours

London Walking Tours

Fox & Squirrel: Itineraries focus on arts and culture and highlight topics such as fashion and food. From $48.

Guild of Registered Tourist Guides: Tours are led by guides who specialize in everything from the monarchy to the music scene. From $213.

London Walks: With more than a dozen drop-in walks daily, it’s perfect for last-minute planners. From $14.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


Photo by Christian Kerber

Trip Doctor Series: Villa of the Week

Broadwell Farm, the Cotswolds, England

Ever wanted to live like a local in a new destination, with, say, your own kitchen, living spaces, backyard, and neighbors? Then T+L's Global Guide to Villa Rentals is your go-to resource. Even better: renting a house or apartment can often translate into big savings. Each week this month, we'll feature a standout property we love—with a price tag that's easy on the wallet.

THE RUSTIC RETREAT

Broadwell Farm, the Cotswolds, England

$79 per night, per room

The Details: You can indulge your inner Anglophile at this 17th-Century, five-bedroom property, set on 280 acres of working farmland. Cook up farm-fresh eggs for breakfast in the light-filled kitchen, camp out with a Charles Dickens novel in the private garden (and, on cooler nights, in front of the living room's open fireplace), or take a pastry-making course at the famous Daylesford Organic Farm, just two miles away.

The Agent: Susanne B. Cohen & Associates: 207/622-0743; villaeurope.com.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

 

Photo courtesy of Suzanne B. Cohen & Associates

Trip Doctor: Paris's Best Walking Tours

Paris Walking Tours

Black Paris Tours: Explore places made famous by notable African Americans such as Josephine Baker. From $91.

Paris Muse: Art historians and educators lead excursions to museums including the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou. From $91.

Paris Walks: Centuries-old local lore brings the city to life on itineraries such as “Paris During the Occupation.” From $16.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

 

Photo by James Merrell

Trip Doctor: Rome's Best Walking Tours

Rome Walking Tours

Context Travel: The company has walking tours in 21 European cities, plus a robust collection of 50 itineraries in Rome. Outings are led by master’s- and Ph.D.-level scholars in such disciplines as archaeology and urban planning. From $75.

Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome: Food writer Minchilli leads market tours in Campo de’ Fiori and Testaccio; sample local delicacies along the way. From $195.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

 

Photo by David Leventi

Trip Doctor: Madrid's Best Walking Tours

Madrid Walking Tours

Wellington Society of Madrid: Join one of the dozen walks offered by Stephen Drake-Jones, a history professor and longtime resident. You’ll get his lively perspective on topics including Hemingway’s Madrid (past clients include the writer’s niece, Hilary), the Hapsburgs, the Prado and Modern Arts museums, and the curiosities and anecdotes of old Madrid, with stops at historic taverns. From $76.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


Photo by David Nicholas

Best Golf Shoes for Travel

golf shoes

Q: I am hoping to play golf on an upcoming business trip, but hate packing my bulky golf shoes. Any tips? —Joe English, via e-mail

A: You could stash them with your clubs, but I’ve got a better idea: Ecco just released a new water-resistant golf shoe (pictured; $190) that can be worn with jeans for a casual dinner as well as on the green (don’t just take our word for it—Fred Couples wore them throughout the 2012 PGA tour). If you’re headed to a rainy locale, also consider the three-layer nylon golf jacket by RLX Golf. It folds into a tiny, easy-to-stow bundle.

Packing is rarely easy—we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Photo by John Lawton

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