So often I used to come back from a trip and feel like I missed something. Like I didn’t take full advantage of the wonderful experience I just encountered. I decided that I could not travel like this any longer and realized that I needed to make some changes. I wanted to start coming back from trips feeling like I really got to see and experience the culture of the places that I’d been. So I decided to make some changes, and implemented ALL of these for my future endeavors, and wow, what a difference has it made!
Whether or not you’re a seasoned world explorer, it’s surprisingly simple to travel like one. The key doesn’t lie in hush-hush secret spots passed on by word of mouth, but rather in intuitive everyday behaviors that will help you experience the cultures and countries in full. Keen to transition from tourist to traveler? Read on and take note.
Venture Off The Beaten Path
It can be all too tempting to stay to the confines of your resort or only hit the top tourist sites in your plans. While keeping your safety in mind, challenge yourself to do something—anything!—that requires a little bit of digging. Try talking to locals, asking your concierge for off-the-beaten-path recommendations, or starting your pre-trip research early.
Take Public Transportation
There’s really no better way to get a feel for the full scope of a city than by taking public transportation. Busses especially help you grasp neighborhoods. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled, bring a map, and be aware of your personal belongings at all times.
Purchase A Souvenir From Anywhere But The Gift Shop
Put down the souvenir refrigerator magnet, and slowly back away. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to scoop up some truly special items that will serve as mementos of your adventures. So hit the market and buy something you’ll cherish for years! (NOT the made-for-tourist stuff!!!)
Document The Details
Keep a diary. Take photos. Recap your days with your travel buddies, or into your journal. Afford yourself every ability to look back on this trip and remember the most wondrous of details, big and small. Just be sure not to spend too much time on social media or your phone! You’ll miss out on the adventures you wanted to remember in the first place!
Eat Somewhere That Was Personally Recommended To You
Yelp is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. It’s a lifesaver when exploring a new place. But the real gems—or at least the truly authentic ones—may evade you if you only dine by way of five-star ratings. While you’re chatting up the locals, ask them what their favorite neighborhood restaurant is. If you’re adventurous, follow their recommendation without a Google search!!—though I won’t judge you if you do for peace of mind.
Go On An Excursion
If your trip involves one destination city, make a point to arrange for a day trip to a nearby city or town. Often, the most popular tourist destinations—though popular for a reason—overshadow some equally worthy yet smaller nearby locales you may regret missing.
Learn The Language
Before your trip, read up on essential phrases so you’re not clueless upon arrival. If you missed the study period, pick up a pocket dictionary at the airport and try it out—most people will appreciate your effort and take it as a sign of respect, even if you’re struggling.
Explore A Neighborhood
Spend an entire day with no set plans aside from exploring a neighborhood intimately. Go by foot or rent a bike, so that you have optimal mobility. Plus, you can stop and go as you please. Don’t set time constraints, and allow yourself to amble about from morning until evening. You’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Hit The Town
Whether or not you’re a night owl, a different energy settles over a city when the sun sets. Depending on the particular flavor of where you’re visiting, the nightlife might consist of live music in bars, huge, pulsing clubs, or candlelit cafes with plenty of wine to go around. Get dressed up and dive into whatever fun awaits.
Eat something new. Try something that makes you scared. Resist the temptation to plan, plan, plan. Whatever your comfort zone is, push yourself outside of it—even if it’s just an inch or two. A truly great and memorable trip will teach you something about yourself—and may even change you a bit. The only way to do that is to shake things up!!