Authenticity has become an immensely popular buzzword in the tourism world. More and more, people want to be considered travelers instead of tourists and to dig deeper into the true character of a city, doing as the locals do. Read on to inject a little extra authenticity into your next trip.
Make the most of the internet
Travel today is easier than it’s ever been before. The internet makes it possible to thoroughly research your destination long before arrival. In addition to reading up on famous sights and must-see attractions, take some time to look into recommended off-the-beaten-path places and activities. Guides to these types of attractions are plentiful, and thanks to smartphones and e-readers easy to take along on your trip for on-the-go reference.
Whether you’re with companions or going solo, traveling independently and not with an organized tour group is one of the biggest ways you can ensure you get the travel experience you want. Organized tours can of course be wonderful experiences, and the best tour operators often grant travelers free time to explore on their own. But not every tour operator is the best, and if you limit yourself to someone else’s itinerary, you are less likely to make your own discoveries.
Travel more slowly
A whirlwind tour that takes you through a dozen European countries over the course of two weeks is naturally going to stick to only the most famous sights and simply scratch the surface of each destination. If you want to get past the postcard-perfect views you’ve always seen in books, you have to be willing to travel at a slower pace. Settling into one destination for the duration of your vacation grants you the time to fully explore everything that city has to offer. Necessity is the mother of invention, and a longer stay in one place will encourage you to look for unique and creative ways to spend your time.
Get to know locals
Contrary to what the mainstream media might have you think, the rest of the world isn’t much more dangerous than home. While common sense and basic safety precautions always belong on your packing list, most of the time you’ll find locals in your destination to be friendly, good people who will treat you like a guest in their country – provided of course that you behave that way. If striking up a conversation in a bar is too daunting, tools like Meetup, Couchsurfing, and Eatwith can help connect you to locals who are particularly eager to interact with foreigners. Befriending a local will give you a special lens into what life is really like abroad.
Embrace your inner tourist
Despite the rich rewards of finding off-the-beaten-path locations and getting to know locals, these should be mere enhancements to your trip. Resolutely turning up your nose at attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal simply because other tourists also visit them is simply immature. There’s no need to be ashamed of visiting well-known sites, particularly if you follow the above advice to travel slowly and responsibly, always ready for whatever comes next.