Traveling is a wonderful way to expand your horizons. A great trip forces you out of your comfort zone and places you face to face with a new culture. That’s why traveling is so rewarding, and people spend months if not years, planning for their “next great vacation.” Unfortunately though, if you’ve traveled enough, you’ve probably had at least one holiday that let you down. A disappointing trip can be heartbreaking; fortunately, though, there are steps you can take to ensure your next vacation avoids the common, touristy pitfalls that can doom even the most meticulously planned trip.
Forget the Hotel
You want to experience a city? Get ingrained in a new way of life? Then don’t book a hotel. A hotel – especially an expensive one – is the antithesis of authentic. It might be nice, but you shouldn’t be traveling to marvel at the inside of your hotel room. Depending on where you’re headed, there are many options superior to the hotel – Airbnb, hostels, or even renting an apartment short term can be a great way to get in tune with the true pulse of a place. You’ll never get that staying in a room where they tuck the sheets in for you.
Plan to Improvise
Having a game plan is a great way to squeeze the most out of a short vacation. But remember that surprise and serendipity are essential to a fulfilling travel experience. The quaint little record shop on the corner, the coffee shop with hand-painted murals along the walls, the mom-and-pop stand with the best shawarma in the city – these places aren’t going to have a fifty-foot banner sign plastered across their business. Their hidden gems because they’re well hidden. Give yourself time to explore and find them. They’ll provide better memories than standing in line at a tourist trap.
Fraternize with the locals
Most people love it when strangers take in an interest in their city and again, most will be more than willing to offer great advice on where to go and what to do. In this endeavor, the local bartender can prove an invaluable asset. They know where the best places are – especially the spots off the beaten track. In fact, anyone in the service industry will likely have a few hot tips on the best spots around town. Make sure to tip them, though! Who knows, you may even make a long-distance friend this way – the ultimate goal of a great trip.