Every place gives more of itself. But not many travelers get the chance to find them. There is just not enough time to discover everything in the brief time you spend at your destination. And as you travel more, it is easy to fall into the trap of experiencing the same things over and over again with little variations. Not that it is a bad thing. A sense of familiarity can be a huge confidence booster when confronted with the unknown. On the flipside, doing more of the same hinders you from experiencing new things.
The best takeaways from travel are the experiences you get from it. Each destination has its own unique essence and vibe that sets it apart from all the other places you have been to. If you think that enhancing your vacation requires taking on adrenalin-pumping adventures, think again! You do not have to go to the extreme to step out of your comfort zone. Below are some ideas on how you can immerse yourself in the local culture on your next trip.
1. Choose to Travel Smart
You cannot plan for a perfect trip. But you can minimize the stress that comes with traveling. Flight or traffic delays, lost documents, and other unexpected problems could happen to anyone. Anticipating potential glitches makes it easier to resolve them. Pack with convenience in mind. Imagine lugging around your stuff using only public transportation at your destination. The less stuff you have with you, the less cumbersome it would be to carry them with you. You will never know when you may have to deal with sudden changes that would require you to act as quickly as possible. And it would be hard to do that if a heavy piece of luggage could slow you down.
Pick a travel insurance package that best suits your requirements. This is often easier said than done considering the amount of information you need to go through. You can read comparative reviews on reputable consumer and travel websites. This should give you a fairly good idea of which ones are suitable for you. Alternatively, you can ask for recommendations from friends. Given the uncertainties that come with traveling, a well-chosen travel insurance plan can prove handy if needed. Traveling smart is about planning the most important details beforehand so you do not have to worry about them once you get to your destination. This allows you to focus on just having the best time of your life during your trip.
2. Pick Accommodations That Offer A More Local Ambiance
Finding an accommodation nowadays is much easier given the wide array of choices available. A growing number of travelers are willing to explore the experiences couch-surfing, homestays, and renting an apartment offer. Part of the appeal of staying in these places is that it provides opportunities for a more local experience. While hotels can give you the familiar comforts you find anywhere else in the world, many often lack the more personal touches that reflect the uniqueness of the town or city.
Couch-surfing and homestay is an excellent choice if you do not mind constant interactions with your hosts. But it can be a bit restricting for those who are used to having their own personal space. If you want something more private, you can opt for an apartment rental. You can still get the more personal touches of a home without sacrificing your privacy. If you prefer staying in hotels, consider looking beyond the chained-brands. Instead, look into smaller and well-known family-owned or local hotels. These are the places where you often find a more personal experience on local hospitality. Where you stay add up to your entire vacation experience. So it is best to choose your accommodation well.
3. Manage Expectations
Your expectations can define your travel experience. You have to learn how to manage them well. Some places do not have the comforts and conveniences that you take for granted at home. Local airports and public transportation can be inefficient. Traffic can be horrendous. Internet speed can be unbelievably slow. And free Wi-Fi may be hard to come by. These are the things that some travelers, even the most experienced ones, tend to complain about often for understandable reasons. But fretting over them steals the fun out of seeing the possibilities when you find yourself in the midst of the unfamiliar.
A simple way to have the best possible experiences while on vacation is to expect the unexpected. Set reasonable expectations on the most important things like safety and security. And be flexible with the rest. Learn something about the local customs before your trip. This should prepare you a little for what is in store for you. It can help you adjust your perception and reactions on things that may be a bit different from what you are used to at home.
4. Don't compare
Every destination may seem far better or worse than each other. Comparing them just sets you up for needless disappointments. Tourist attractions may not be at par with the ones you have visited in the past. At some point in your travels, you will be disappointed by what you see. But that is the beauty of traveling. You find that it is the differences, the good, the bad, and everything in between, that make places stand out. Your attitude towards a place and its people can influence your experiences. Many travelers fail to connect with local people in meaningful ways because of negative views they have about the place.
Picking a vacation spot is just a small part of the bigger picture. The returns on the time and money you invested for a getaway depend on your ability to squeeze the best possible outcomes from every experience. So avoid getting trapped in a habit of comparing your current experiences with the ones you have in a previous trip or at home. Take everything as it comes and just go with the flow. You might be surprised to find something better than you hoped for.
5. Adjust to the Local Place
The whole point of taking a vacation is to enjoy a break from your daily routines. It But slowing down is not as easy as it looks, especially if you are used to a fast-paced environment. You might be surprised how challenging it can be at times. It is not like you can quickly switch off ingrained habits. It even gets trickier when you want everything to go as planned. Buses and trains in some of your destinations may not often run on time. Services in shops and restaurants may not be as fast as you experience at home. Local shops you want to visit may be closed at midday as owners enjoy their siesta.
Adjusting to the local pace can save you from a lot of stress. It also makes it easier to pay attention to what is going on around you. You will notice things you could otherwise miss as you rush through your planned activities. It may even create more room for spontaneity as you explore the things you discover that may not be on your itinerary. So the next time you are on vacation, make a conscious effort to slow down from time to time and do what locals do.
6. Experience Dining At Hole-In-The-Walls
Eating street food and local cuisines served at hole-in-the-wall restaurants enhances your travel experience. This may not seem a good idea if you consider food hygiene and safety. But many top tourist destinations are known for their street stalls that offer some of the tastiest foods in the world. If you have not done it already, add visits to street stalls and food places where locals go in your itinerary.
You can be more adventurous with food without unnecessarily putting your health and safety at risk. Choose places that are most likely regulated by local authorities. Food poisoning is bad for tourism so many cities are invested in keeping street food safe for locals and tourists alike. Some of the best-tasting foods are sometimes found along the streets or in seemingly nondescript restaurants. You can miss out on a good meal or snack by sticking to the tried and tested flavors of chain restaurants you find at home.
7. Vist Local Farmers' Markets
Not many tourists venture into local farmers’ markets. It seems pointless when you do not have plans of doing any food shopping. A visit to busy and unfamiliar open markets can also be overwhelming. But it can be one of the best places to go if you want to have a more authentic local experience.
A trip to the market gives you a glimpse of the myriad of colors and flavors that make up the place’s culinary scene. If you are staying in a place equipped with a kitchen and basic cookware then you might want to make the most of it by preparing your own meal at least once. You can cook a delicious meal using the freshest and finest ingredients you can find in the market.
8. Learn Something to Remind you of a Place
Learning a skill while traveling is a lasting souvenir you can take back with you. It does not have to be anything complex that requires a lot of time to pick up. It could be as simple as cooking a traditional dish or craft. Short lessons on art, cooking, and pottery are just few of the things you can explore.
Picking up a skill not only expands your repertoire of talents. It can also be a great gift you can share with family and friends at home. Imagine the surprise and delight they get when you serve them an exotic dish that you have learned to prepare in one of your travels. It puts a twist to the kind of souvenirs you can bring home with you.
9. Make Friends with Fellow Travelers
Traveling is a common interest that could forge lifelong friendships. Some of the friends you meet while vacationing abroad could be your future travel buddies. Others become one of the reasons you visit a place again. But it is not easy making friends when traveling with a tight-knit group. You become comfortable with each others’ company that you tend to overlook the people around you.
If you want a deeper experience on your trips, pay more attention to strangers and travelers you meet along the way. Make time for conversations and learn from them. The stories you hear may even inspire you to travel to the places they tell you about. Talking with the local people also gives you a better grasp of the local culture. You may even find out things that could improve your vacation experience.
10. Dine at Someone's Home.
What if there is more to dining with the locals than visiting the restaurants they frequent? What if you can actually enjoy a meal and have an interesting conversation with them at their homes? Think of all the things you can talk about with the people who will open their doors for you. The idea alone has all the makings of a memorable experience you do not often find in run-of-the-mill vacations.
BonAppetour makes this concept a reality by connecting travelers with vetted hosts who can serve you with their version of traditional cuisines. You can let them plan a simple dinner or a night of party with your friends. You can even make special requests based on your dietary restrictions. The hosts can tailor your experience based on your preferences with the added bonus of having a night of fun and conversations to look forward to.
It does not take a lot of resources to make the most of your vacation. Sometimes it only takes small tweaks to make your trip more exciting and memorable. As you immerse yourself deeper into the local culture and experience things from their perspective, you discover things that many others miss. And there is nothing like leaving a place knowing that you have experienced more than what you planned for.