Anthony Bourdain's Perfect Advice For Experiencing Everything Your Destination Has To Offer

With as many countries as he visited in his travel shows, it would be easy to think the late Anthony Bourdain only scratched the surface of each destination. Yet Bourdain's interest in travel went beyond the chef's appreciation for good food. In shows like CNN's "Parts Unknown" and the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," he wasn't just doing quick culinary tours of different cities. He was learning about global cultures, landscapes, and people, and Bourdain's travel tips still ring true.

In an hour-long show format, time is an obvious limitation, but this isn't so different from the dilemma faced by any traveler. When your vacation time is limited, how do you go somewhere and have a more enriching experience than you would just by hitting up the usual tourist destinations?

Whereas Bourdain began with a focus on cuisine, the average sightseer might be tempted to go straight for well-known landmarks first (unless they also happen to be a foodie). And Bourdain's shows featured plenty of establishing shots of such landmarks. However, when asked what drove him to travel, he said that it was "curiosity about the world in general," in a 2014 interview with CNTraveler (syndicated by Yahoo). "I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable. I like delicious food but I'm just as interested in who's cooking it and why." He also had advice for world travelers to deepen their experiences in each destination.

Cultivate curiosity

We can interpret Anthony Bourdain's comments about food, culture, people, and landscape being inseparable as a call to go beyond the most popular sightseeing spots and interact with the social fabric of each place you're visiting. You could follow his advice for spotting the best local places to eat and try striking up a conversation with someone there. One of his tips was to look for eateries where locals (as opposed to obvious out-of-towners or tourists) are willing to stand in a long line for good food. So, even if the actual dining atmosphere is quiet or you'd rather just savor your food and not do a lot of talking in between bites, you might have a chance to chat with someone in line beforehand.

This works if you speak the same language, of course, but picking a local's brain may not always be an option if you're in a foreign country and there's a language barrier. That's when it helps to research the place you're visiting and learn about its culture and history through other mediums. Read the pamphlets, signs, and museum labels you encounter (as you're able) and look for other information wherever you can get it, be it books, documentaries, or online sources that engage with more details than surface-level fluff. Curiosity is the keyword here. It means digging below the surface of what's visually appealing or Instagrammable and having a genuine interest in where you are.

Come away with stories

Watching Anthony Bourdain's TV shows, you can see how food created a cultural exchange for the chef. He always asked questions and took the time to learn more, not just about local delicacies, but about the chefs who prepared each dish. His shows spotlighted people as much as food, and he would also explore local traditions beyond the culinary scene.

On an episode of "No Reservations" devoted to his favorite city, Tokyo, Bourdain observed the martial art of kendo and took a side trip to Kyoto to try his hand at ikebana, the traditional art of Japanese flower arrangement. He came away with stories he could share, and his agenda wasn't just limited to a checklist of famous landmarks.

Bourdain once said (via Newsweek), "Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower." There's nothing wrong with visiting those places, but his point was that it's easy to get caught in a travel bubble, even when you're attempting to escape your day-to-day bubble back at home.

You may not always get the same all-access, VIP treatment that Bourdain did as a travel host, and again, language barriers can sometimes make it hard to connect with people. But if anything, the spirit of his travels reminds us to be open to new experiences and venture off the beaten path, true to the name of his show, "Parts Unknown."