Get the Most out of Your Destination by Doing These 6 Things
New Experiences and Lots of Stories to Tell
Traveling to a new destination can be overwhelming. With so many attractions to visit and corners to explore, how can you possibly do the city justice?
Sometimes you come away from a location feeling like you barely scratched the surface, or that you got a good feel for the history but not the culture of the area. It’s impossible to do everything, so we’ve narrowed down six activities you should do whenever you’re exploring somewhere new that will give you a well-rounded feel for your destination.
Here are the things you should do in any new place you travel to, to truly experience the spirit of a given city.
Talk to a Local
Strike up a conversation with the street food stall owner, the taxi driver, the manager of the hotel or any other local you encounter during your stay. Chatting with the people who live in your destination will help you understand the culture in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Your new local friend might be also able to give you valuable tips and advice for what to do and how to stay safe during your stay. If you get really lucky, you may be invited for dinner at the home of a local person or to a festival or event that will become an unforgettable travel memory.
If you’re nervous about putting yourself out there, a good way to ease into it is by booking a private tour. A Paris private tour, for example, involves being shown around by a local who can give you their firsthand experience living in the city. They’ll also be able to give you their undivided attention, allowing for a more valuable experience than what you’d get in a big tour group.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com / enviromantic
Try the Food
In my opinion, you can’t visit a travel destination without at least sampling some of the local food. You might love it or hate it, but the cuisine is a major part of a nation’s identity and a huge aspect of experiencing another culture.
Be brave enough to sample the local eats, even if it means eating Guinea pig in Peru or kangaroo in Australia. Who knows, you just might like it! This goes for less exotic places as well; when exploring a new city, eating the local food — even if it’s in your cultural wheelhouse — is a great way to get to know the specific culture of a neighborhood.
By straying away from chain restaurants and opting for locally run businesses, you’ll also help support sustainable tourism in the area.
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Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com / dc_colombia
Walk Through a Residential Neighborhood
It’s one thing to walk through the tourist area of town, but it’s another thing completely to walk through a residential neighborhood where the average person lives. Make sure to do this when you are exploring a new place, because it will give you a much better sense of what life is like in that country.
I’ll never forget the residential neighborhoods that were perched on the steep mountainsides surrounding the city of Medellin, Colombia. The mountain was so steep that the tin roof of one family’s house was level with the backyard of their neighbor.
Scraggly stray dogs chased footballs kicked by children playing football in parks. The buildings were painted in wide looping scrawls of graffiti.
A couple on a motorbike clung to each other as they weaved through switchbacks up the slope. A grandmother reached to hang a pale pink sheet on a washing line.
A gaggle of middle aged men hung around on a corner store stoop. These are the snapshots of everyday life in Medellin.