For this European adventure, I intentionally made sure I had my lodging and flights arranged in advance (I would have suffered a mild panic attack otherwise), but as for my daily activities, I wanted the option to choose as I go. No “must-see lists” — just me waking up each day and deciding what I felt like doing.

One of my biggest anxieties around travel is that I’ll have an unsatisfying meal (sad, yet true). I cherish good food and the entire dining experience. My game plan is to research neighborhoods I want to explore and then select restaurants that have solid reviews (I don’t dare walk into a restaurant without checking TripAdvisor or their Google rating first...). If I find a different spot I want to try along the way or get lost, that’s perfectly fine with me (I’m slowly learning that not everything needs to be fully planned out).

On my first night in Rome, I traversed an hour across town for a highly-rated meat and cheese plate (it was worth it) and explored the city’s historic sites along the way.

On my first night in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I ate outside at a small Korean restaurant they do have a surprisingly large Asian influence here. After a week of pasta, pasta, and more pasta in Italy (I know, it’s absurd to complain about too much homemade goodness!), crispy Korean fried chicken was a welcomed treat. By this point, it was getting late and I was borderline hangry. The first two restaurants I had scoped out refused to seat a single person outside (turning away business dumbfounds me), but it was a nice night and I was determined to dine al fresco, so I broke my cardinal food rule and picked dinner based on the closest proximity to where I was standing (spoiler alert: it worked out in my favor).

I had a feeling the guy who took my order was the owner, and I asked how long they’ve been around and how business was going. He was refreshingly honest — they’ve been in business a year and a half and business is slow (despite being the #14 restaurant in Dubrovnik according to TripAdvisor). His restaurant was located in a cute and narrow side alley (very common for Old Town), 12 steps up from a popular street lined with outdoor seating. “Most people don’t want to climb up the steps to view the menu,” he said.

Figuring he didn’t want to leap into an unsolicited marketing discussion with a stranger during dinner service, I held back from sharing this piece of advice: translate your website into more languages, including English! Even their social media posts are listed in Korean.

I’m all for country pride and an homage to one's authentic roots, but I can’t help but think of all the money they are leaving on the table due to the language barrier. Someone on his team is visually talented because they have stunning, professional-looking photos of their food on Instagram, but they’re failing to capture a large part of the market, including catering to tourists arriving daily on ginormous cruise ships. Even a simple Squarespace landing page translated into English, Croatian, and Korean with compelling photos and a link to their menu and reviews would make a meaningful difference to attract a wider audience and drum up more business.

Instead of hoping patrons will walk by and trek up 12 steps, meet them where they are (on the interwebs), in a compelling way they'll understand, and capture their attention before they’ve made their decision. Be the destination, not the lucky happenstance.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this gem, but I hope more people seek out this place on purpose.