Tourists. Aren’t they annoying? You’ll see them wandering around in hordes with a map, taking photos of great paintings, posing in front of national monuments for clichéd photos (*cough* like the usual pictures of people holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa *cough*), breezing through museums, randomly stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to gaze at buildings, and simply completely failing to soak up the essence of the places they visit.
A traveller, instead, won’t just visit a new country; they’ll experience its heart. Theirs is a style of travel not easily described in a 60-second sound bite. Tourist attractions are to them what kryptonite is to Superman. So they’ll go dog sledding in Finland, help mahouts give their elephants a bath, or learn to make pasta from a nonna in Italy. As long as you have a passport and a desire to travel better, you can take advantage of the countless adventures available at your fingertips. Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller.
No matter what kind of travel personality you have, here are some tips to help you travel like you mean it:
1) The Culture Vulture:
Instead of an itinerary that reads like a planned military expedition, that breezes through monuments and museums, and gives you absolutely no time to live la local vita try these options:
a) Spend time with the locals – Whether you’re sipping mint tea with Bedouins in Jordan or drinking a pint of Guinness with Dubliners in Ireland, hanging out with the locals will give you the opportunity to truly get under the skin of a country. Not only will you get an insight to daily life, cultural customs, national political scandals, indispensable slang, tips on sights and activities that aren’t in guidebooks or on the internet, but they might even buy you a round!
b) Travel on local transport – Instead of taking mass-tourist transit, walk or take local transport, whether this is bus, junk, or tuk-tuk. Not only does this let you explore your destination at ease, but it also lets you get closer to local lifestyles. How else are you going to stumble upon a robot restaurant in Japan? Yep, you read that right.
c) Sleep in traditional accommodation – Do yourself a favour. Stay away from hotels that promise you that they are a ‘home away from home’ and opt for something a little more original. Imagine sleeping in a cave-house in Andalusia, or a jungle tree house in the Amazon. It’s actually possible.
2) The Health & Wellness Enthusiast:
Let’s face it, hotel gyms and pools just don’t cut it anymore. You might as well stay home and work out on your treadmill. Now if you’re looking for a more personalized wellness experience, here are our recommendations for a vacation RX:
a) Rid the body of negative energy – Enjoy total relaxation and refresh and recharge your batteries via local spa and massage treatments in a spiritual ambiance, such as Ayurveda (traditional Hindu medicine) in the Himalayan mountains or Temazcal (a Mayan therapy) in the Mexican jungles.
b) Indigenous Healing – Feel better after experiencing a region’s traditional healing practices, whether a water purification ceremony by a traditional Balinese healer or an izinyawo cleanse by an African inyanga to revive the body.
c) Meditate your worries away – Sometimes a little peace and quiet goes a long, long way. Meditate with monks in Thailand or soak up some Balinese meditation at a temple to just de-stress and chill.
3) The Adventurer:
Your credit card list may look like Indiana Jones’s shopping list and blisters, bruises and burns may have become part of your M.O., but can you call yourself a true adventure traveller if you haven’t done one of the below?
a) Trek one of the holy grails of trails – Take your pick from hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, trekking the base of a volcano and other trails that are absolute must-dos if you ever want to say “adventure is my middle name”.
b) From peaks, to pedals and paddles – Travel is about breaking out of your comfort zone. If you’re looking for an adventure to really set your heart pounding, a multi-activity journey is the answer. After you hike to the summit of a mountain, cycle back down to the river and then white-water raft the rapids. Be fearless.
c) Throw caution to the wind – Adventure travel doesn’t just mean pushing you to your physical limit, it’s always about testing your mental muscle. So go ahead, sample local delicacies of unknown origin, drink that suspicious green-coloured beverage of unimaginable alcohol content, and sure, arm wrestle that Sumo wrestler. Live it up! (just make sure your insurance policies are keeping pace #protip)
4) The foodie Traveller:
We’re sorry to break it to you, but eating frozen pizza and generic gelato in Italy (followed by the inevitable Instagram picture) doth not a foodie make. Next time you travel, avoid tourist trap restaurants and follow these helpful hints for some actual street cred:
a) Discover food on food – Eat your way through a food trail through markets and roadside shops with a local to get a taste of the unique flavours of a city and make some new friends along the way. Chances are you’ll enjoy discovering the best biriyani joints in Bangalore more than an uninspiring meal at your hotel restaurant.
b) Don’t just eat like a local, learn to cook like one too – Among the best souvenirs you can bring back from a holiday is some tasty recipes you can make for your friends. Beats an ‘I Went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ right? Take a culinary masterclass from expert regional chefs and learn to taste, cook, and experience great food from start to finish.
c) Enjoy home-cooked feasts with local families –Nothing beats the old-fashioned charm of eating a home-cooked meal. Not only will you get to eat authentic dishes, but sitting down for a meal with locals is also an opportunity to delve into another culture on a more personal level. For a traveller, this can be one of the most memorable experiences on their journey.
So there you have it. Whether you’re an adventure or a foodie traveller at heart, we guarantee that following our tips will make your travel experience more authentic, personal and unforgettable. You’re welcome:)