Whether you’re a group tour enthusiast, a novice traveler, a seasoned solo adventurer or an expert wanderer, it always takes quite a bit of determination and courage to travel. But once you take the first few steps and get past the beginning, you’ll find how exhilarating, challenging, and fun it can be to discover a place. Being your own guide is also a way for you to push yourself, to discover yourself.
There are a few intuitive everyday habits that you can apply in some capacity to your trip to get the most out of your adventure. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vacationer or a traveler; these are seven things you must do to get the most authentic experience:
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1. Record your memories
This might be a no-brainer in a world where everybody is vlogging their travels on Instagram and YouTube. But sometimes all you need is one picture or video that depicts your perspective of the place you’re in, for your collection. However, don’t spend so much time behind the camera that it becomes a distraction, and you miss the magic moments happening around you.
An even more immersive way of recording your travel is to write about them in your diary or travel journal. To make it more fun, stick receipts, passes, or tickets of rides or events that you enjoyed alongside so you can preserve your memories and relive your vacation on a later date.
2. Use public transport
It might be a daunting experience at first to figure out tickets, timetables, and stops when you don’t speak the local language very well. But using public transportation, even for quick rides, is a great way to be among the locals and to live like them. It will also work out cheaper than taking the taxi each time.
Experience new parts of the neighborhood and get a full scope of the city by taking a local bus, subway, metro, or tuk-tuk. Use your default Maps app to get an idea and then ask locals for more specific help, if required. You should also be proactive and exercise necessary caution like you would back home.
3. Choose the road less traveled
While going to tourist attractions and staying at popular resorts is a good plan of action, it doesn’t make for unique, personal stories. Going the ‘off the beaten track’ takes you to the less crowded hidden gems the country has to offer. It also helps you build confidence as you do things that are outside your comfort zone.
To go about this, you can explore on foot or drive around. To ensure getting around is easy, rent a vehicle, if possible, with one of the best roof racks for cars so you can carry around your luggage with ease.
4. Do your research
Before you set off on your journey, a minimum amount of research and pre-planning is necessary. You can’t go to a new place without reading a few travel blogs to get a fair idea of what to expect and tips for enhancing your experience.
Even more important is to know about the climate or weather conditions of your destination. This information helps in deciding what activities your itinerary will include. Also, check for public holidays (so you can avoid them) and regional and music festivals (so you can immerse yourself in them).
5. Challenge yourself
It’s comforting to keep doing what you know, but that doesn’t help your fears. So try to do something new every day. It’s okay to start small – like trying out a new type of food. Make sure it isn’t something you usually do. Look for an activity that is unique to your travel destination.
6. Shop and eat local
Going to a grocery store or the city’s market can be an enjoyable way to get familiar with the country. It can sometimes be a real eye-opener to see how different things are than what you’re used to seeing. If you’re looking for souvenirs, prefer something that’s locally-made and artisanal to show your support for small businesses, instead of going for the apparent tacky trinket.
When it comes to meals, ask the locals or your guide to tell you their favorite restaurants to eat at. This helps you stay on budget and also find out about popular traditional dishes. Or go on a food tour. Don’t forget to try the street food, too!
7. Learn the local language
Of course, you don’t have to learn the entire language. All you need to know is a few essential phrases, like how to say thank you, please, or hello. Even if you struggle, the locals will appreciate your efforts. It also shows that you are respectful of their culture and tradition.
To make your ordinary trip extraordinary, immerse yourself in everything the place stands for. Accept the people, embrace their customs and traditions, and enjoy the local cuisine. Remember these seven things to make memories for a lifetime.
Alex is fascinated with “understanding” people. It’s actually what drives everything he does. He believes in a thoughtful exploration of how you shape your thoughts, experience of the world.