James Michener said ‘if you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home,’ and that is by far the best travel advice anyone has ever given in just one sentence. You need to completely immerse yourself into the culture of the place you’re visiting, whether it’s a foreign country or a new city, to get the best experience and make your trip memorable. The key to making the most out of every trip is intuitive everyday behaviour that helps you maximise your travel experience.
There are important tourist attractions that you might want to check off your bucket list but to truly engulf yourself into the experience,
Here are 10 things that you must do to get the most authentic experience.
1. Stay/Interact with the locals
One of the best ways to experience the place is to stay with the locals. Most of the time, the locals are happy to provide accommodation to solo travellers for free. This way you will cut the cost of accommodation. The home-cooked meal, local folklore, stories and experiences, and the hospitality offered are just the additional bonuses of staying with the locals. This way, you can also learn a lot about the place and the underrated hidden gems that are not so popular among the tourists.
If you don’t get free accommodation with the locals, you could always opt for homestays. There are plenty of homestay options available across the world where you can experience the hospitality of the locals, and ask your concierge for off-the-beaten-path recommendations.
2. Attend regional festivals
No matter where you go across the globe, festivals celebrated around the world bring with themselves joy, warmth, love, friendship, thrill, and all things fun. Festivals are an extremely fun way to have a great time and engage yourself with the local traditions and festivities in a tangible way. There’s nothing more incredible than experiencing the culture of a foreign place uniquely and differently.
There are hundreds of festivals celebrated across the world in a single day, and innumerable different festivals celebrated around the world each year. Whether it is art and culture, food, beer or wine, singing and dancing, religious festivals, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
3. Eat at a traditional restaurant
Eating a traditional meal, prepared authentically is unbeatable. Always make sure to include at least a couple of meals that feature the local cuisine. Leverage the fun of being in a new place by trying the food there that can range from the local street food to a fancier meal.
The truly authentic restaurants which are the real gems may evade you if you are one of those who only eat by way of five-star ratings. You can ask the locals what their favourite neighbourhood restaurant or any other recommendations.
4. Use public transportation
If you want to feel the full scope of a city, there’s no better way than taking public transportation. It helps you in grasping the beauty of the entire neighbourhoods. You may face some trouble in an attempt to figure out the timetable, tickets, and language, but it is essentially the true essence of travelling.
This way, you will also save some bucks and gain information about the area and how to get around. Using public transportation is also a great way to engage in conversations with the locals and finding out more about the place.
5. Visit the local markets and shops
Visiting and shopping at the local markets and shops is the perfect opportunity to scoop up some truly special items that serve as mementoes of your adventures. Avoid buying things that you can find just anywhere and look for pieces that will remind you of your time in that place, and you will cherish it for years.
6. Try to cover all the tourist attractions
Many people are reluctant to visit the main tourist attractions for the sole reason of them being too touristy. News flash “YOU ARE A TOURIST”. There is a reason why those landmarks are called tourist attractions and are so popular.
If you avoid the tourist attractions because you are worried about overcrowding or long lines, go as close to the opening as possible. The earlier it is, the lesser the crowd will be. You can also go close to the closing hours, but there’s a fair chance that you will have to rush through the experience then.
7. Take a day trip or excursion
Take a holiday within a holiday. If you are travelling to one destination, arrange for a day trip or weekend getaway to a nearby town or city. This way you will explore more places that are equally worthy but get overshadowed by the popular tourist attractions.
8. Go to the grocery store
Eating at a traditional restaurant is one thing, but they also give you a good overview of the local cuisine. The grocery stores also prove to be great when you want to save money on food, and they might also have some interesting products, a delicious dessert, a must-try bakery item. You can also get the local snacks of the place like chips, ramen, chocolates and other munchies.
9. Check out the nightlife
The nightlife depends on the particular flavour of the place you’re visiting, but different energy settles over a city when the sun goes down. Remember checking out the nightlife of wherever you’re travelling to, which may include cosy candlelit cafés with coffee or wine or huge pulsing clubs.
10. Keep a record of your travel
Take as many pictures as possible, record videos of every little thing, keep a travel journal. Give yourself every little ability to look back on this trip and remember it vividly with most wondrous of details. Remember that you’re not doing this for social media but yourself and you don’t have to have perfect pictures but something which helps you relive the moment.