When you travel as a tourist, you can miss out on a lot of valuable experiences. Many of the opportunities you are offered are the same cut-and-dry options as everyone else.
If you want a unique experience, make an effort to be less like a tourist!
Here are some tips to accomplish that!
Immerse Yourself in the Culture
For the love of GOD don’t eat at McDonald’s or get a coffee from Starbucks.
If you’re in a foreign country, surrounded by all manner of exotic tastes, you’re obligated to sample as many as you can. After all, that’s why you’re traveling, right? To experience new things!
It goes further than food, though.
Visit a bar or a club that’s meant for locals. Go to a concert or find a coffee shop with a local band. Music is hugely important in many cultures and varies wildly from place to place.
You might even find a new favorite!
If you happen to be traveling during a local holiday, make sure to celebrate it. Find out the significance of the day, how it is celebrated, then partake in the revelry!
It’s important to be respectful of other cultures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience them for yourself!
Form Genuine Relationships
Apart from being good life advice, this tip has the potential to totally change the outcome of a trip.
Making some real friends in a new place has several benefits. The first is that you get an insider’s perspective on your locale. That insight is invaluable; you’ll experience the place in a way no other tourist does.
Secondly, you’ll feel more ownership of the place. Don’t confuse it with appropriating a country or culture that isn’t yours – the country or city doesn’t belong to you, you belong to it. I have a connection with Kenya because I lived there for a couple years and have friends that remain there.
If you have friends, you have someone to fall back on. Traveling is sometimes risky, and having a safe place nearby is an invaluable asset. If you get mixed up in any trouble and have to deal with the local government at all, having a native to defend you will help immeasurably.
It’s not always easy to make friends while you’re traveling – especially if there is a language barrier. The reward is well worth the effort, though!
Take Your Time
This one is tough.
For many of us, traveling full-time is the dream. Unfortunately, that’s not usually possible.
If you have the luxury of time and money, take advantage of it to really get to know a place. Don’t spend one week in each country – spend a week in each city.
If you’re constantly on the move, you’ll never acclimatize. You’ll never really understand what makes a place tick.
If you don’t want to be a tourist, you’re gonna have to stick around longer than a tourist would.
Discover and Visit Local Spots
It goes without saying that if you’re in Peru, you have to see Macchu Pichu no matter what. It would be a grievous oversight to miss any of the wonders of the world.
However, that’s only one part of Peru’s national treasures. You’d be missing so much if you only saw Macchu Pichu and the Nazca lines.
Fortunately, you’ve already been working on making some local friends. Ask them where they go to visit on holidays or as part of their family tradition.
You might be surprised. Something as mundane as an old family shrine in Japan can have a lasting impact on your trip. It could be a memory as strong or stronger than when you summitted Mt. Fuji.
How do you travel without being too touristy? Tell us in the comments!