Welcome to the eighth post in my series “Top Travel Mistakes.” I previously collected information on the biggest mistakes people make when traveling and composed a list of the top 10 (plus a few bonus tips!) This series explores and expands on that list and provides more detail about how to avoid making these common errors when you travel.
# 8 Being too ‘Touristy’
If you go to Paris you should make it a point to see the Eiffel Tower. If you’re visiting New York City, it would be a shame to miss out on seeing the Statue of Liberty. Popular sites are popular for a reason, and you should absolutely make time to visit all of the things you want to see. But don’t let the big attractions keep you from finding all the hidden gems.
This might be my number one piece of advice when traveling somewhere you’ve never been to: Embrace the culture!
How many of us plan our trips around one or two attractions that we are really excited to see? A monument. A historical site. A theme park. A beach. A natural phenomenon. I know that I’ve done it. I do it all the time… and not just for other people, I do it for myself as well. And I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with that… However, I also want to encourage you to occasionally step away popular spots and make some time to enjoy the just-as-amazing surrounding communities.
Live and Learn
One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to see how the rest of the world lives. It’s amazing how different lifestyles can be from one place to the next. Different cultures embrace different characteristics, and I am here for all of it!
No matter where you travel to, I urge you to spend at least one day enjoying the life of the locals. The best way to learn about a place and its culture is to experience it. Really open yourself up to the area markets, bakeries, eateries, bars, shops, and other services that each community has to offer. And talk to the locals. Really engage in conversation with them. They will be able to tell you more about their hometown than any internet search. This is how we grow as people. We step out of our comfort zone and absorb all that the world has to offer.
Not only will this help you and your own personal growth, but by shopping and eating locally, it also helps support the communities. There really is no better way to say ‘thank you!’
One of the questions I get asked a lot when planning trips is “what’s the night life like?” My usual answer is that most cities are littered with casinos, bars, night clubs, and live entertainment…. But there is also so much more if you know where to look.
A couple of years ago, my sister and I went to Aruba to celebrate her 30th birthday. While we were there, we did visit a few casinos and night clubs… and they were great if that’s your thing, but that’s really just not our style. One thing we found out was that we would be staying during Carnival season, so we made it a point to check out some of the festivities. We went in not knowing what to expect and ended up having a fantastic time! We were lucky enough to make it to the kid’s talent show, and it was so much fun! Honestly, a highlight of the trip!
On Tuesday night (every Tuesday night, in fact) Fort Zoutman in Oranjestad hosts “Bon Bini,” a welcome festival that introduces visitors to Aruban culture and heritage. It was only about an hour long, and it was very enjoyable! (It involves a bit of audience participation! So you will absolutely not get bored!)
Another night we were all geared up to get ready and hit the hotel nightlife again when we ran into our Air B&B host. We asked him what he recommended and had such a good time chatting with him that we ended up staying in and having drinks with him, his girlfriend, and a couple of dogs on the patio instead of going out. They were able to clue us in to some of the island’s secrets and lesser-known sites, which we excitedly checked out the next day.
My point is that we ended up having a better time hanging back and embracing what the local communities had to offer than we ever could have had on the main strip. Our days did not all run together in a blur, but rather, each one was so unique it made the trip all the more memorable. These are the types of experiences I live for!
Finding Your Balance
As you may have read in my previous post, “What’s Your Travel Style,” we all have a way of traveling that we’re most comfortable with. If you are a ‘Trendy’ traveler, aka the ‘Tourist,’ you will likely be drawn to destinations that have made a name for themselves. You may have already even checked places like The Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, and Niagara Falls off your bucket list. I think that’s great! They make for great pictures, they’re relatable and familiar to others so you can always exchange stories, and the surrounding areas are also built up in a way to keep visitors happy and entertained. Any time you get to expand your view of the world is a worth-while trip!
But what do you do at the end of the day? Or the next day? How many days in a row can you put up with battling the crowds and waiting in lines? This is where I would encourage you to stretch your legs and do a bit of self-exploring! Dedicating at least one day to avoiding the crowds is a great way to find balance in getting to see everything you want to see, and getting to see all the things you didn’t know you needed to. You will find a greater balance in your trips in which you will feel more experienced and more fulfilled.
Ready To Travel?
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