If you want a true change of scenery and a trip that will actually teach you a lot of new things, it’s smart to aim for authentic experiences that will allow you to grow as a traveler and as a person. So how do you treat yourself to such a fun, exciting and unique trip every time you travel?
People generally love to talk about themselves and their culture, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and show genuine interest in what they have to say. For instance, when traveling, feel free to ask a friendly local about certain buildings, food and habits. If they have time, they’ll gladly share their knowledge and offer to tell and even show you many new things. When you’re genuine about your intentions, most people tend to be amazing hosts ready to offer you the best travel experience. You don’t have to be fluent in a language to notice the benefits of speaking the local language. Before you leave or whenever you have some free time on your trip, use the time to learn a few useful words and phrases. Saying hello, thank you, and please is a great way to soften people up and encourage them to help you and share information.
If you find it challenging to meet locals out and about, check out some volunteering programs at your destination. Volunteering is one of the best ways to come in contact with people from all sorts of different backgrounds and lifestyles, as well as get familiar with current events and society in the country you’ve traveled to. Plus you’ll get to spend your time doing something positive for the local people and share your blessings. Before you sign up for volunteering, though, make sure to do some research about the organization and ensure your help goes into the right hands.
Sample the Food
Food is an integral part of travel, and you want to try as many new and authentic dishes as you can. If you have time for a slower feast, ask the locals about the best food in the area and go there. You’ll most likely get recommended small, family-owned restaurants which serve old recipes made from local ingredients. Even when you’re in a rush for a quicker bite, you should skip the international chains and opt for more authentic fast food; if you ask around in Miami, for example about the best hamburger restaurant, locals will most likely give you various recommendations of locally-inspired burgers, fries and all those familiar dishes, but with a twist - you’ll get much more than your money’s worth and patronize a local business.
Time Your Trips Festively
Almost every place in the world has celebrations and events which are authentic to them, so if you can, time your trip in order to attend them. This is a great chance to learn about local customs, try local treats, and drinks and meet people in a happy, receptive mood. You’re guaranteed to have a blast as long as you need your mind open and behave respectfully.
Try 'Slow,' More Immersive Travel
Additionally, while not many of us can take month-long trips a few times a year, what you can do is reduce the number of destinations during your one yearly trip. This allows you to stay longer in one spot to better experience the way people live there - so instead of tossing several countries into your a sweep through Europe, settle on one and get to know it more thoroughly. Once you go through all the classic tourist spots, you’ll have plenty of time left to relax, spend your days people-watching, and even meet a few locals - even something as simple as running into someone in a laundromat.
You’ll most likely grab at least one memento from your trip, but instead of visiting flashy souvenir centers focus more on small manufacturers who create authentic art and products. For example, most experienced travelers choose to shop at traditional and farmer’s markets that feature artists and artisans who display and sell their handmade wares—these usually have a much nicer story behind them. You can talk directly to the maker and get the most accurate information about the product, materials and the meaning behind the memento.