Travel Essential Checklist

9 Essential Items You Need To Bring When Traveling Abroad 2019

Blog, Guide, Travel

It’s a fact – Traveling can broaden your mind, enhance your life and strengthen your connection with the world. 

Another fact? Traveling isn’t the easiest of tasks, especially if you’re completely unprepared for it! We advise you start to pre-plan your travel essentials about a week or two before you head out and have a checklist ready. With a checklist, you can mentally map out which items are crucial, the total number of items you’re bringing and you can cross off anything that might not be vital. That’s why we suggest you have a list of travel essentials you need to bring when flying to a new country!

What Do I Bring When Traveling Abroad?

Every person has different tastes and ideas in what makes a trip anywhere comfortable. We took the liberty of jotting down our list of the top 9 things you absolutely should not forget when traveling abroad:

1. Passport, ID Card[s]

Travel Essentials Passport

Probably one of the most important things you’ll absolutely need when you’re traveling abroad. A valid, up-to-date U.S. Passport will be required to board your flight. Without it, there is surely no chance of you getting the chance to fly outside of the United States! 

A passport isn’t the easiest of items to get at first, but as long as you have your birth certificate and SSI card, you’ll be in good shape! And, renewing can typically be done by mail every 10 years! Most definitely an essential travel item to put on your list!

2. Ticket, Itinerary

Once again, your boarding pass and/or ticket will be needed and presented to board your flight. Without it, however, you can walk-up to a check-in kiosk or up to a flight representative and they will be able to print out your boarding pass – assuming you actually bought one and have a valid ID and/or passport to provide identity verification. When it comes to travel essentials for going overseas, this one should be on the top of your travel check list.

3. [Smart] Phone

Though it’s not a huge step below the aforementioned items, having your phone when traveling isn’t necessary for everyone. However, in this day and age, there is an app for just about everything and anything you can think of – and that can benefit your travel. 

Whether it’s breaking down the language barrier, finding a place to eat or simply contacting a loved one back home – having your phone is an item that will make your experience a little easier! And hey, how else are you going to show-off that Steve Aoki jump in front of the Eiffel Tower?

4. Cash, Debit & Credit Cards

travel essentials international currency

It’s always a good idea to grab some international currency before you really venture off into a new country and travel abroad. There are still parts of the world that maintain a lack of technological integrity; meaning that credit card you casually swipe in the states won’t be of any use throughout some of the mom and pop shops, businesses and restaurants.

You can easily exchange currency locally through currency converters, at your home airport or at your destination terminal!

5. Portable Charger, International Converter

An international plug converter is truly a savior if you rely on your portable devices like we do. With a GoPro, 3 GoPro batteries, a portable charger & 2 phones, that ability to charge our devices goes a long way! You want to let your mother you’re doing well, right?! Make sure you have one of these plugs on your travel checklist.

6. Efficient Walking Shoes

travel essential good walking shoes

I’ve made the mistake of buying new shoes before traveling overseas to France and attempting to break them in along our journey. Being the naive adult with young-minded ways, I bought a pair of New Balance SB’s. Pas Bien. I don’t have anything against New Balance [in fact I still have these and some runners], but I recommend going with a pair shoes that are meant to be walked in or to run in.

Solid walking shoes will make the entire experience pleasant, easy and stress-free. Plus, you won’t get battered, blistered and bruised like I did. Walking shoes are a must when traveling and can be worn instead of packed!

7. Medications & Insurance Cards

You should be very self-aware when you’re going somewhere new, especially with your health. If you’re prone to headaches, lacking sleep, easily congested or have sensitive sinus’ then it’s highly advised you bring any prescribed medications and insurance along with when you’re traveling. God forbid you end up in a scenario where you’re just sick and cannot communicate this in another country or language. Having a step ahead in terms of your health will make travel 100% better. Identify if you need vaccinations prior to your trip and ensure that you’re prepared

8. Side-bag [1-strap, fanny pack, etc.]

travel essential sidebag

A recommended item is a 1-strap side-bag or a fanny pack. With it securely wrapped across your chest or in front of your waist, these provide easy access to your essentials while keeping them covert and safe. I’ve had the same bag I purchased on Amazon years ago and it’s easily the most convenient way to carry goods that aren’t the best of fits within your pant pockets.

I’ve heard stories of pick-pocketing and this precaution, in our opinion, can minimize the chance of that happening.

9. Basic Greetings

Another item on the travel list that might not be an absolute must-bring on your journey. But, I will say, learning even the most basic sayings and greetings prior to going to a new country will not only be fulfilling, but it’ll truly enlighten your overall experience. I cannot express enough how much locals appreciate the effort an American takes to learn even a little about their culture. 

Generally, you’ll want to know: Hello, Please, Thank You & Goodbye

Do Your Research When Traveling Abroad: Read, Learn, Talk, Watch & Enjoy!

travel essentials international greetings

With that, it’s highly advised you do a little [or a lot] of research before you set journey. Soak in some knowledge about the new country you plan on visiting. Indulge in restaurants with Michelin Stars! Explore landmarks. Talk to locals. Obtain some history, origins, stories and find some food to try! Traveling abroad and to new countries needs to be cherished. It’s an experience where you shouldn’t feel stress whatsoever!

Is there anything else you think is an absolute must bring when you travel abroad? Let us know!

Michelin Star

What is a Michelin Star?

Blog, Food, Guide, Travel

Restaurants all throughout the world aspire to earn the highly coveted Michelin Star status. What started as a travel guide during early 1900’s Europe is now known for providing lucky patrons with a guide to world-class dining experiences most can’t say they’ve had.

But why is the Michelin Star so sought after, why are they important and.. what the heck are they?

Michelin Stars: What Are They?

What is a Michelin Star

The Michelin Star is a fundamental trademark for fine-dining standards of many of the world’s top chefs and restaurant patrons. Recipients that are  awarded cheerfully promote their Michelin Stars with honor and newly acquired status. Most, if not all restaurants that receive Michelin Star status often see an increase in business due to the award. 

Michelin stars are a top-class rating system used by the red Michelin Guide. The system grades restaurants on a number of categories, primarily the overall restaurant quality. 

Red Michelin Guide

Michelin Guides are a series of guide-books published by French tire company, It usually refers to the annually published Michelin Red Guide – which is the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide.  

Michelin Guide History

The Michelin Guide Star originated in France – a country known worldwide for its passion for fine cuisine and culinary arts. The Michelin Guide was originally a feature of the Michelin Guide Books that were published in 1900 by the founders of the Michelin Tire Company, brothers  Édouard Michelin and André Michelin .

At the time, most drivers habitually stayed within the confines of their own neighborhoods, rarely journeying beyond what they knew. With the start of the Michelin Tire Company in 1889, the founders sought a way to compel the limited drivers to make longer journeys. In turn? The drivers would buy more tires!

Michelin Stars

The Michelin Guide listed information in abundance for motorists. It included where to find the best meals along with accommodations while touring with their vehicles.

With the growth of the company, growth came with the guide – so much so that it came with a new price tag which was introduced in 1920. 

By then, the dining element of the Michelin Guide was in high demand. It reached the point where Michelin decided to set up a team of scouts who had the job of anonymously visiting and rating restaurants on a 3-category basis. The rating system, which is still in place today, was referred to as Michelin Stars. 3 stars meant the restaurant was exceptional and worth the special journey, 2 stars meant excellent cooking that’s worth a detour and 1 star for a very good restaurant within its category. 

Michelin Star – Expansion Outside of France

By 1933, 23 restaurants in the country of France were rated with 3 stars. It was later extended to cover additional European countries while temporarily suspended in World War II. Immediately after, the 1951 edition saw the return of Michelin’s 3 star system. The bar was raised, however, resulting in less restaurants receiving the maximum rating. 

Now, Michelin Stars are awarded selectively to a handful of restaurants globally for outstanding quality. 

Michelin Star Rating System

Michelin Star Rating System
  • One Star: A restaurant that’s considered very good within its given category. These restaurants have high-quality menus and cuisines with high standards, however, they are limited in some way. 
  • Two Stars: A restaurant that offers an excellent cuisine that’s delivered to guests in a truly unique way. This restaurant has exceptional offerings and is worth a detour to check out while traveling.
  • Three Stars: Not only do these restaurants offer outstanding cuisines and service, but they’re worth a special trip just to visit. Instead of being a stop along the way to a destination, these three star Michelin Restaurants are the destinations. Three stars means a distinct dish that’s elegantly executed, making it an award of the highest standards.
  • Bib Gourmand: These are basically Michelin’s honorable mentions. The Bib Gourmand are given to restaurants that provide consumers with quality food at a value.
  • The Plate: The Michelin plate is a symbol for restaurants that have neither a star nor a Bib Gourmand. In this selection, these restaurants are showcased for very good food.

2019 Michelin Star Awarded Restaurants Worth Mentioning in the United States

Los Angeles, California

  • n/naka – Kaiseki Dining experience prepared by chef Niki Nakayama
  • Providence – Chef Michael Cimarusti’s fine-dining destination
  • Vespertine – Dining as art at this reservations-only venture from Jordan Kahn 

San Francisco, California

Chicago, Illinois

  • Alinea – Chef Grant Achatz draws foodies with New American tasting menus 
  • Smyth – Rustic-chic venue offering tasting menus of high-end New American fare
  • Acadia – An airy, upscale restaurant serving seasonal New American dishes 

New York, New York

  • Jean-Georges – Sophisticated New French eatery
  • Masa – Japanese restaurant offering a high-end fixed-price sushi menu
  • Daniel – Daniel Boulud’s elegant French flagship where jackets are required

Are there any restaurants you feel we missed on the U.S. or think should deserve a Michelin Star? Let us know!

Michelin Star Guide
food and travel blog spoonderful

Best Burgers in Los Angeles, CA 2019

Blog, Burgers, Food
best burgers in Los Angeles, CA

What Makes a Burger the Best Burger?

It’s an all around classic that brings people together. A creation that’s evolved over time, expanded in popularity and’ll make your taste buds tingle while you salivate over it’s smell during prep. Eating a burger is an experience that should be cherished and never downplayed!

Ultimately, a good burger comes down to one’s preference in flavors, ingredients, preparation and any additional flare. Meat to fat ratio. Bun to meat ratio. Meat type and flavor. Crisp crust. Medium rare. Seasoning and toppings. Tomato and cheese. Indoors. Outdoors. Alone. In a crowd. With peers. Or even with your foe [remember: keep your enemies close!] 

Kidding aside, if you’re not in the mood to slap your own burger together within the means of your humble abode, the options for a solid burger are actually endless – especially if you’re living in Los Angeles, CA! 

Whether you’re prepping it at home, hitting that drive-thru, sitting down at a diner, bar-top, or high-end restaurant – finding a solid go-to burger can take time, effort, and some money! 

(All of which, we’re absolutely willing to risk for.)

Let’s take a look at our favorite / best burger choices in the greater Los Angeles region:

Spoonderful! Best Burgers in Los Angeles, CA 2019

Pie N’ Burger

best burgers in los angeles pie n burger pasadena california

Pasadena, CA
Just off South Lake & California Blvd., Pie N’ Burger first opened its doors in the fall of 1963 and has valiantly held its ground at that location to this very day. Catering to locals, students, and the wandering burger aficionado, Pie N’ Burger is a quaint joint that does the burger true justice.

What to Get: Classic Cheeseburger Combo w/ an Apple Pie for Dessert!
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: They’re the home of America’s top 5 cheeseburger as ranked by the Food Network and use the same preparation methods they’ve used since its inception over 40+ years ago. Biting into a Pie N’ Burger cheeseburger is truly a unique California experience of its own; a quarter-pound of fresh beef, griddle-cooked on a toasted white bun w/ American Cheese, the fixins, and in-house Thousand Island Dressing makes the Pie N’ Burger an instant classic and a must-try.

The Apple Pan

best burgers in los angeles the apple pan westside 2019

West Los Angeles, CA
Opened in and under the same management since 1947, the Apple Pan is locally famous for its hamburgers, apple pies served with vanilla ice cream, and banana cream pie. Their motto is “Quality Forever” and has withstood the ever changing West Los Angeles landscape while adhering to core values.

What to Get? Steakburger
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness? The steakburger is the Apple Pan’s original burger, first structured in 1927. Cooked over a flat-top griddle lightly drenched in grease, the burger patties are made on the griddle in front of you within the Apple Pan’s iconic V-shaped counter. It gives diner’s a glimpse into what the dining experience was like for visitors back in the 40’s, 50’s & early 60’s.

Humble Potato

best burgers in los angeles humble potato

Culver City, CA
A down-to-earth local Culver City neighborhood eatery that serves their interpretation of American comfort food with a Japanese flavor twist. Humble Potato offers a relaxed setting and casual dining experience that is great for enjoying a beautiful day on the Westside while eating an out of this world burger.

What to Get? Battle Royale
What Else to Get? Katsu Kare Sando
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness? There’s something about the Battle Royale’s mixture of caramelized onions, garlic jam, Shichimi Togarashi and HP spicy sauce on a juicy angus patty that fits the ideal blend of flavors needed to create an all-around epic burger.

Father’s Office

best burgers in los angeles fathers office hamburger

Santa Monica, CA
Father’s office was founded in 1953 and was influential in the rise of America’s craft brewing industry and the establishment of smoke-free bars in California. Now home of the much touted Office Burger, Father’s office has become critically acclaimed gastropub by Chef Sang Yoon as of the year 2000. His focus? Pairing the world’s best craft beers with excellent food in an environment that feels close to home.

What to Get: Office Burger
What Else to Get: One (or 2) of their 32 beers on tap
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: The ‘Office Burger’ is a patty of fine dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions, Gruyere + Maytag cheeses, Applewood-smoked bacon compote and arugula served on a soft role. Infamous for allowing no substitutions or alterations to any food at Father’s office, including no ketchup – makes this place noteworthy of a solid burger.

Monty’s Good Burger

best burgers in los angeles Montys koreatown

Koreatown, CA
Monty’s Good Burger is a plant-based concept that started in 2018. Featuring artisanal burgers made from locally sourced ingredients, Monty’s Good Burger creates a hamburger that virtually anyone can enjoy. They encourage new choices, healthy eating lifestyles, sustainable eating and 100% plant based meals!

What to Get: Monty’s Good Impossible 100% Plant Based Burger
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: It tastes, smells, and cooks exactly like the beef you know and are infatuated with – but it’s made directly from plants! Eating one of Monty’s Impossible Burger’s contributes to a great cause, too.

Cassell’s Hamburger

best burgers in los angeles cassels koreatown

Koreatown, CA
A quick decline over the years had Cassell’s closing up its 70-year old shop having locals believe that the beloved burger joint was gone for good. As of today, thankfully, Cassell’s Burgers is now operating in a retro space within Koreatown Hotel Normandie. And guess what? They’re serving burgers than they ever were prior.

What to Get: Cheeseburger Combo
What Else to Get:  A hand churned milkshake
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: When it comes to a solid burger, simplicity is key. That’s exactly what Cassell’s aims for and succeeds at accomplishing. With a 60’s diner vibe, gracious staff and a deconstructed burger you can add things to yourself, Cassell’s is a landmark for burgers that we hope withstands the ever changing eco-business environment of Koreatown.

The Oinkster

best burgers in los angeles the oinkster

Eagle Rock, CA
What to Get: The Royale Burger
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: It’s the spiritual home to Los Angeles’ annual burger. Heck – flavortown mayor, Guy Fieri, stopped by the Oinkster and gave it his honorable seal-of-approval. Pastrami on a burger should be a sin, but until then, try it before you’re praying for forgiveness.

In N’ Out

best burgers in los angeles in n out

Anywhere in Southern California!
What to Get: Double-Double with Cheese & Grilled Onions
What Else to Get: Animal Style Fries & Milkshake
Why It’s Worthy of Burger Greatness: When you fly in to LAX and drive North on Sepulveda Blvd., it’s likely your nose has sensed the tantalizing smell that exudes itself from a California staple, In N’ Out. It’s a Californian staple, with the classic Thousand Island Dressing, grilled onions, melted cheese and the company grinds and patties their own meat from whole beef chucks, ensuring great taste and authentic Californian burger experience.

Best Burger in Los Angeles, CA Honorable Mentions

The Morrison Pub Atwater Village, CA
Golden State Burger  – Los Angeles, CA
Hawkins House of Burgers – Los Angeles, CA
Hache LA – Silver Lake, CA
HiHo Cheeseburger Santa Monica, CA
Pono Burger – Santa Monica, CA

A Useful Tip for at Home Burger Cooking

Most chefs highly advise to those who want to dabble in the art of burger crafting – use a heavy cast-iron skillet. A hot skillet is absolutely the way to go! Why? The point is to allow any rendering beef fat to gather around the patties as they cook. The beef fat collected in a hot skillet then acts both as a cooking and flavor agent. Grease, in itself, is a great condiment that is natural – just like the beef you’re cooking!