The term tourist can sometimes have a negative connotation and can be seen as someone who visits only the most popular attractions, buys souvenirs from gimmicky trinket shops, and may or may not have any clue about the local culture.
Travelers seek out authentic experiences. They want to learn more about the local culture and though they may hit up the big attractions, they set aside time to do some exploring on their own.
So why be a tourist, when you can be a traveler? Below you’ll find our list of 5 things you should do every time you travel to help you achieve traveler status:
Try a new experience
Studies have proven that when you spend your money on experiences, rather than things, you tend to be happier. And frankly, trying something new that is outside of your everyday life is what travel is all about. You would be surprised how many people expect things to be exactly how it is back home and get disappointed. It’s better to shed those thoughts of “what is normal”, push your boundaries, and try something you’ve never done before! (even if it is a little scary) It will make your trip that much more memorable.
Taste the local cuisine
Even if you have tried a version of it at home or think you won’t like it, you should always sample the local cuisine. Who knows? You may find your next favorite dish! Or you may find something that you never want to eat again … but you won’t know until you try it. Local cuisine can tell you a lot about a place’s culture and history. Plus, you will continue to expand your palate and introduce new flavors that you never even knew existed! But if you don’t end up liking it, you certainly don’t have to keep eating it. Just try to not offend your host or the locals by your reaction.
Keep a journal
Even if you don’t typically keep a journal at home, it can be beneficial to write down what you’ve done each day so you can remember all parts of your trip when you get back. Even if it is just a few words to describe the area you were visiting or how it made you feel. And if you can use paper and pen to write it down, rather than your phone or tablet, you’ll actually remember it better later on. Who doesn’t want to remember their awesome vacation memories?!?
Ask a local
If you’re looking for an authentic, non-touristy experience – ask a local. You’ll learn about restaurants, bars, and other attractions that you may not find in a guidebook or on a quick Internet search. Locals know what’s new, what’s worth the money, what’s worth the extra trek, as well as places to avoid. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend flagging a random person down on the street to ask them questions as it might be a bit off-putting but consider chatting up a bartender or waiter, the front desk person at your hotel, or another local you have built rapport with during your stay.
Get off the beaten path
We’re not saying that every trip needs to take you to some remote location but try to carve out a portion of your vacation where you aren’t visiting some of the bigger tourist attractions. Even if it is just for an hour or so, walk down a less trafficked street to see what shops you find (taking the right precautions, of course!) or take a train out of the big metropolis to explore a smaller village in the countryside. You may just stumble upon a hidden gem that ends up being one of the highlights of your vacation!
Have any travel tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!