Break free from the tourist guidebook syndrome
One traveller, when asked recently about his trip though Argentina, just said “Same old tourist traps”. Sadly, technology has made travelling easier but it has also created mass crowds of tourists, flocking from one site to another, snapping pictures and moving on to the next.
Except how can we step off the beaten path, so we can experience new things? Is it really possible to get a peek into their culture and give us a new outlook on life? Yes, it is and this article will give you some helpful hints on how to travel like a local and not a tourist.
Take public transportation
It’s a thrill to get on a bus in another country, even more so, if we don’t speak the language. It is as if all of our senses come alive. The best part of public transportation is that it is cheap, so it is easy on our wallet.
We are able to observe the people close up and see the challenges that they face when travelling. Maybe it is an overcrowded bus with sticky, humid heat or maybe it is a scenic ride through a quaint neighbourhood.
Stay at a vacation rental
Most hotels are right in the center of the highest concentration of tourists. The restaurants and pubs cater to the tourist food palate and not the locals. Also, the stores and businesses in the area are designed to attract tourists. It doesn’t allow us to perceive or drink in the area’s culture.
If you stay at a vacation rental, it is more than likely that the hosts will be locals and they can give you sincere advice as to what to do and where to eat. Also, it will be located in a neighbourhood where locals live, so you will be able to experience more of the real culture, which will enrich your lives and your minds.
Eat local cuisine
Food, for many is the essence of life. The culture and the country’s personality are often represented by their food. So, don’t be afraid of eating local cuisine, it is an eye opening experience of new flavours and textures.
Stay away from the franchises from back home, such as Starbucks. They will still be there when you get back home, instead search out a local coffee house that uses local beans. They will passionately share their knowledge about the area with you, while you sip your coffee.
Try and eat where the locals eat. Look for reviews online of restaurants, make sure that the reviewer lives in the area and wasn’t just travelling through. Don’t be afraid of the local markets, normally if it’s cooked and lots of locals are eating it, it is safe.
Learn some key phrases and respect their customs
Many cultures are cautious around foreigners and unfriendly, maybe because of prejudice or past experiences. The best way to break the ice is to say something in their native tongue and it will bring an instant smile to their face.
It can just change everything, suddenly the language barrier between you and them just dropped. Many times, they are so appreciative, that they will give you a gift or lower the price on something.
Learning some of the local customs, is just good manners. As the saying goes “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. By respecting their culture they will respect you.
Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the things and places we have to see that we forget to see the little things, that can make a deep impression on us. Stop and linger. Enjoy your time there. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
It isn’t a race to see the most museums or ruins. Before you travel, decide what places you really want to see, but leave yourself time to explore the area and find it’s hidden gems.
May you eat, breathe and experience your next trip
Traveling isn’t about seeing, but it is about experiencing new things and widening our horizons. It means getting off the beaten path of thousands of tourists and seeing the area through the eyes of a local and not a tourist.
Try these suggestions and your next trip will be a life changing experience and not just the same old, same old.