There are certain types of travellers in this world. You’ve got your classic holidaymakers, content hitting the same tourist-friendly destinations year after year. Then you’ve got your intrepid adventurers, for whom no mountain is too high and no place too dangerous. Thirdly, there’s the camp that most of us can identify with: Those wanderers who spend days dreaming of the next destination, the best beaches, friendliest people and most scenic views. However, it can be easy for those gripped by wanderlust to pack in too much to their trips in a bid to see and do it all. After all, when you want to see every corner of the earth, it can be tricky to stop and smell the roses in your current destination.
So what’s the antidote? Travelling like a local, of course. Simply follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to holiday bliss in no time.
Think quality, not quantity
Many tourists get caught in the trap of trying to see as many places as possible during their trip. This is all well and good if you’re on the road (or in the air, over water, on tracks and so on) for months at a time, but anyone who’s ever tried to pack several countries into a two-week trip will tell you this is a terrible idea. Sure, you’ll tick the boxes on your travel itinerary. You may even be able to boast that you saw the Eiffel Tower AND the Leaning Tower of Pisa AND the Coliseum AND the Northern Lights during your 10 day getaway, but you won’t spend any more than a day or two in any given place and you’ll likely miss out on truly embracing the local culture.
Next time you plan a big trip, why not cut down on the towns, cities and countries you venture to? Instead, spend longer periods of time at fewer destinations, giving yourself the chance to truly explore every nook and cranny in your new (adopted) neighbourhood. This may even give you the chance to pick up on a bit of the local language – and if not, at least you’ll have more time to gorge on the exquisite local food.
Meet the locals
It may seem daunting at first, but we recommend taking any chance you get to approach and spend some time with friendly locals. Strike up a conversation at a local café and see if anyone has recommendations for other good places to eat, chat to fellow walkers in the park and consider signing up to websites and apps such as Couchsurfing and TravBuddy to meet both locals and fellow travelers.
Seek out the unexpected
As well as ticking off the world-famous tourist haunts, look for off-the-beaten-track options to help you see more of an area’s non-tourist side. For instance, it would be rude not to check out the Eiffel Tower while you’re in Paris, but you should also pay a visit to la Chapelle Expiatoire, a lesser-known monument that was constructed where Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI were buried after their executions. And while the Leaning Tower of Pisa is awe-inspiring, make a point to discover Pisa’s more hidden gems, such as the Basilica of San Piero a Grado, which is a church showcasing stunning Romanesque-Pisan architecture – and of course, plenty of history.