Call me naive, but one thing that irritates me the most about travelling is tourists. And yes, essentially I am also a tourist, but the best part of travelling for me is not being one. Confused?
Do not get me wrong, ticking those tourist attractions off new destinations is all a part of it, just like tagging and posting it in every social media platform. However, there is always so much more to a city than its main attractions and immersing yourself in the cities way of life is how you will get so much more out of where you are.
Here are my top 5 handy tips to making the most of your overseas trip, avoiding looking like a tourist and staying safe.
The best way to act like a local, is to live like one. I am currently typing this from my 1 bedroom city apartment in London, where I have spent the last 2 weeks living. Like most main capital cities, London isn’t cheap and accomodation will take a huge chunk out of your travel budget.
Depending on the length of your stay, Air BnB will always be up to 40% cheaper in the long term than a hotel, and gives you the great option to have your own personal space, as well as the other luxury of being able to cook. Imagine how much money you will save not having to eat out for every meal?
Air BnB listings will usually have interesting locations and situated in residential areas where hotels can’t be. This gives you the perfect opportunity to explore areas you may not have if you were staying in the city centre of your destination.
AVOID THE CHAINS
Starbucks, Prêt, McDonalds, Subway – i could go on. Its easy to fall for these fast food chains when abroad, because you know them, its familiar and comfortable to you. But if you wanted to be comfortable then you may as well of stayed at home on the couch watching Netflix.
In France? Go to your local french cafe and sip a cafe au lait and eat a croissant. London? Head to shoreditch and drink a overpriced pressed juice and look at some street art. You went overseas to live a different culture, so embrace the change.
TAKE THE MINIMUM
Just like you would do at home, its important to be aware of your surroundings. Pick pocketing happens everywhere, and unfortunately places like Europe are where it is the highest.
When discovering your holiday destination, think about what you really need with you during your day out. How many bank cards do you really need? Do you really need all that cash? Passport? Probably not.
The only thing you need is your phone, some cash and/or travel card and some good walking shoes. Leave the Amex platinum and the 3 savings cards from home behind.
GO WITH THE FLOW
They say fail to plan and you plan to fail, but in travel, this sometimes isn’t always the case.
When i was younger, every trip was pre planned in advance, sometimes even a calendar would be made with every day mapped out! (Thanks Mum). This may actually be the main reason why as a adult, the one thing i hate is over planning a trip. When my Mum asks me what I’m going to do while on a holiday, my answering is always ‘Not Sure, see what happens’ to which she looks at me with utter disbelief that I’m not her son, surely my son would of made a 30 day power point presentation with each location and tourist attraction mapped out 4 months in advance.
No, No, No….!
You are on holiday, its time to get away from the life of planning and go with the flow. See what happens. Some of my most greatest days on holiday is when i leave the place I’m staying at, with no clue as to what I’m going to do. I simply walk or jump on public transport and see what i find.
This is also the best way to ‘live like a local’ as you will come across things you may not have otherwise.
LEARN THE LANGUAGE
And no, I’m not suggesting you go and learn the entire language of wherever it is you are going – however, learning the basics will help you in the long run. While most people you come across in foreign countries will speak basic English, it always helps to know the basics.
Its another way of immersing yourself in the culture you are exploring and showing that you are trying will get you a lot further than not.