1. Avoid tourist destinations.
Yes, you read it right, avoid those destinations. Unless you have an absolute craving after seeing the Eiffel Tower, the leaning tower of Piza or shoot pictures of the Trevi Fountain, then stay away from tourist destinations. There are several reasons.
They are overcrowded and often overrated. We are from Copenhagen and one of the biggest tourist attractions there, is the Little Mermaid. Lets be honest. It’s a small 1.25m high bronze sculpture on a stone. If you are lucky, the weather will be fine enough for a good picture, that is if you can get through all the other tourists taking pictures. And a ton of people already have that Little-Mermaid-Picture. Nothing special there. The same applies to all the other tourist destinations.
Instead you should sit down and use your Google Maps. Find the area you want to travel to and explore the smaller cities around it. Google maps has a fantastic feature, where you can explore attractions, shopping, restaurants etc. in every area. Often the non-tourist cities also have absolutely stunning churches, monuments and so much more. And at a much better price. You will save money and have a unique experience.
2. Avoid the tourist restaurants.
Tourist restaurants are often dull, tasteless and you don’t get value for your money. You will get the absolute best experience, if you eat where the locals eat.
Move away from the main street or the areas around the main attractions, and walk down the side streets instead. Spot the restaurant with the most locals and go eat there. Firstly you will discover local dishes with much more taste, than at the tourist restaurants and secondly you will often eat at a cheaper price. The locals don’t want to pay sky-high prices for less, so why should you?
You can also ask the locals where they eat when they go out. Don’t ask at the tourist office. Instead ask the guy at the kiosk, the busdriver or even the cleaning lady at your hotel. They know the good places.
3. Talk to the locals.
It might sound scary to talk to people you don’t know, but doing so will often provide you with unexpected experiences. You can start out by smiling randomly at some locals. That will take the edge off. Again, talk to the people sorrounding you.
The waiter (if not too busy), the old man on the bench by the beach or the lady waiting for the bus. Ask them, if they are from around here and what they do in their spare-time. Be open and go to a local sporting event that they tell you about or a very local fleamarket. You might even end up with them inviting you to a special event or to see something special in the area. Say yes and you will experience things you never thought of before.
4. Learn some basic words.
Many doors wil open, if you show some respect and learn some basic words and phrases in the language you are sorrounded by. Yes, no, thank you, please, how much is this, can I have the check please, where is….. and stuff like that.
Not everybody speak “the big” languages and people really love it, when you are able to speak a little of theirs. You might get better service, better prices or bigger smiles, but most of all you act respectful and that has great value.
Think about how happy you get yourself, when a foreigner know some basic words in your language.
There are several apps for your phone, that teaches you a new language or you can simply just use Google Translate to learn the words.
5. Throw away your plans.
Have a few days (or all of your holiday) without plans. Get in your car, hop on your bike or put your walking shoes on and start moving in a direction without a plan. Turn left or right when you feel for it, and embrace the things you see on the way.
You might end up having lunch at a very local café, seeing amazing fields with cattle, stumbeling upon a local museum, getting aware of an interesting local musical event or finding yourself in the middle of nowhere sorrounded by beautiful mountains. No plans mean that you are more flexible and from that comes unexpected adventure. Or just pure relaxation. Who doesn’t like that?
E & M
-Writing: Eva. Photo editing: Eva.