If you want the label of traveller rather than tourist, how can you make sure you experience the countries and cultures fully? Visiting a city for the first time should be about so much more than visiting the tourist highlights or booking an organised bus tour. No matter the destination, there are certain things you can do on every trip to ensure you have an authentic experience and interact with the locals. After all, they know their hometown best!
It can be all too easy to stay within your comfort zone and venture no more than a few miles from your hotel, or only visit restaurants with international cuisine. Safety is rarely a concern in most cities if you are careful, so it’s time to become a real explorer! Here’s how to make the most of every destination you visit.
Every city has their own network of public transport, some of which have become landmarks of the city and its culture – think the tube in London or a tuk tuk in Bangkok. The best way to get around your city of choice is how the locals do, so whether that’s by tram, ferry or metro, it’s time to buy your tickets and hop aboard! Try and make a taxi your last resort, as you don’t get to experience as much from a car window. Public transport is also usually super cheap so you can get about for less.
The majority of hidden gems are ‘stumbled across’ so allow some time in your itinerary to get lost. Follow your nose to wonderful eateries, or use your intuition to guide you through areas of the city you would have never visited. You never know what you might find! Some of the best places are always kept a secret to avoid them from becoming swarmed with tourists. Be spontaneous and put away your phone and maps – we promise you won’t regret it.
There is so much to discover at local markets, from local delicacies to handmade gifts which make the perfect souvenir. Why visit shopping malls and town centres with chain stores you can find all over the world, when you can purchase one of a kind items handmade or sourced locally at market stalls? Many cities have permanent markets open every day as well as visiting artisan markets or special night markets on certain nights of the week.
What makes this city unique? Always try and take part in a cultural experience when you visit a new country or city. This could simply be sampling a local dish or learning to cook it yourself, or it may be a musical or artistic experience. From learning to drum to taking part in a guided museum tour, learn more about the culture and understand its people.
By simply changing the way you travel around the city or being brave enough to put down your map, you can change a holiday into a truly authentic and memorable experience.