This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while. To me there is a definite difference between being a tourist and a traveller, and I much prefer the latter. Of course there’s advantages to being a tourist, which I associate more with a relaxing holiday, but travelling to me means learning and discovering more about the place you’re in.
Travelling can teach you loads and you can discover things you never knew existed. So how can you be more than a tourist? Well, this is how I do it…
1) Avoid all-inclusive resorts:
All inclusives to me conjure up images of packed swimming pools, having to reserve your sunbed at 6am and poor food. I’m sure they’re not all like this (although I’m yet to see otherwise) and while there are benefits to knowing exactly how much your time away is going to cost, all inclusives don’t really go hand in hand with being a traveller.You tend to stay within the walls of the resorts, maybe making it over to the beach but not really experiencing the local way of life. So, avoid all inclusive and check yourself in to a hotel, hostel or self catering apartment. Self catering is great and means you can cook for yourself on some days to keep costs down!
2) Don’t shy away from the local food:
To really be a traveller you should opt for something you wouldn’t normally go for. Whilst on holiday in Spain I ended up in a hugely busy restaurant with no idea what was going on. With limited Spanish I wasn’t sure what was on the menu and so picked at random. It was a great choice and I ended up trying foods I would never have gone for before!
3) Take time to explore the history:
Drag yourself away from the beach and head to the tourist office or off out on your own to discover what your destination really has to offer. You never know what interesting facts you might learn and you’re bound to discover some beautiful historical sights.
4) Go off the beaten track:
Some of my best experiences happen when I take a turn off the main street and explore the side streets. This is how you really see local life and people. It’s likely you’ll find cheaper restaurants and bars and you’ll probably find some interesting boutiquey shops. I can’t recomment exploring in this way enough! (Although make sure you’re armed with a map incase you get a bit lost!)
5) Learn some phrases of the language!
As a language graduate this is something that gets to me. I’m not saying that you should be able to have conversations but knowing how to order and say “hello”, “please”, and “thank you” is more than achievable and makes you seem less like a tourist and more like a traveller. You’ll find learning a few key phrases will be appreciated and you’ll probably save yourself some “tourist tax” added to drinks in very touristy destinations when ordering a pint!
Do you have any top tips of your own?