Before we start, i’d like to make clear the difference between a tourist and a traveller: tourist travels to visit (and take picture in front of) the important places only. Traveller explores the place to the core; meets the locals, eats local food, wanders around, tries to understand the place as it is. Travellers get the full experience. Here are some tips for travellers, or the ones who aspire to be one.
- When you’re travelling, it’s a good thing to organize your day and plan everything so you can see everything you want. But don’t take your schedule too serious. Some of the best things happen unplanned. Also, leave some time just to feel the energy of the place you’re visiting, become a part of its unique vibe.
Two years ago i was in Elba and we needed to get to our ferry on time but we still decided to take the longer route to it and wander around an island a bit. My favorite memory from there was standing in the middle of the narrow, cobbled street and just feeling everything – smell of pasta, sound of some italian song on the radio and someone who’s singing along (not very good, but they were really trying), laundry drying on wires between buildings, smell of salt and the sea, windows with green wooden frames, seagulls flying above my head – my idea of la dolce vita.
- Learn something about the place you’re visiting. Learn a few phrases on their language, find out something more about that pretty building you took pictures of for instagram, if you’re visiting a gallery listen to the story of shown masterpieces. It’s not boring as history classes in high school, i promise.
- Become friends with local people. This can be amazing but can also turn out to be really bad if you come across a jerk so be careful. But supposing you met someone nice, your traveling experience will become so much better. Firstly, you’ll firsthand find out about what are people there like, their mentality, habits, likes and dislikes. They can recommend you good places to visit/eat/party. You may hear a great life story or get inspired by their attitude and way of looking at things. You can practice English or other foreign language you know. After all, you’ll have a new friend from another country.
- Keep your mind open. People all over the world are raised differently, don’t think and act the same way you do, they may live in a world unlike yours and have different customs. Don’t assume their way of living is wrong just because it’s not something you’re used to. If you’re travelling, you have to be open-minded and tolerant. Leave stereotypes at home.
- You can go to McDonald’s for every meal, of course, but why don’t you try local cuisine? Or maybe finally go to bungee jumping (i know you’ve always wanted it, but you are scared). And when will be the time for that road trip you’ve been planning for ages if not this summer? Good things happen when you step out of your comfort zone. If you’re afraid, what stories will you tell your family / friends / future grandchildren?
- Avoid tourists traps. Try to find out where locals go to get the best quality for the smaller price. If you have the internet and your previously mentioned local friend, odds are in your favor. If you’re in one of the Europe’s city breaks, sometimes it’s enough to walk away from tourist spots and explore nearby streets. I found best ice cream i’ve ever eaten in one of the narrow backstreets near Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence.
For the end, one of the greatest practical tips i’ve gotten: if you can’t afford to lose it, don’t pack it (because you’ll inevitably lose something, that’s an unwritten rule. And Murphy’s law is that you’ll probably forget that one thing you really CAN’T forget. Just always triple check if your passport and charger are there).
by Dunja Jovanovic