When you’re about to embark on a new adventure, the last thing you want to do is stick out like a sore thumb. You don’t have to be the traditional-looking tourist. Try blending in with the locals to immerse yourself in beautiful new cultures.
Dress the Part
One of the biggest things you can do is leave the sneakers at home. Americans are notorious for embracing the athletic look when traveling. While you might feel uncomfortable, try dressing like a local to step outside of your comfort zone. When you first arrive in a new country hit up some local markets for a wardrobe upgrade.
Learn Essential Words and Phrases
No one wants to be stuck trying to remember the Italian word for breakfast first thing in the morning. Learn a few words before you go with programs such as Rosetta Stone or the app TripLingo. Once you’ve arrived, listen carefully to how the locals talk. You may pick up some more specific words and phrases while traveling.
Photo: Oxana V on Unsplash
Spend a Little Time Without a Map
In a digital age, it’s difficult to go without a map when there’s one programmed right in your pocket. Take a risk and spend an hour or two wandering the streets of a new country without a trusty printed or digital guide. You’re bound to find some local shops and restaurants along the way that put the typical tourist joint to shame.
Order Food Like a Pro
Did you know not every country tips when eating out? In France, a service charge is a part of your bill. Instead of tipping 20 percent, just leaving a few euros on the table is acceptable. Be open to eating new foods too. Try some locally sourced fish or a vegetable dish you typically wouldn’t take a bite of. Chicken fingers and fries will always be there when you get back.
Photo: Darren Coleshill on Unsplash
While you’re wandering around, make it a point to spend your money locally. Some countries still have those famed golden arches, and it’s easy to stick to something you know. Put your money back into the local economy and interact with the shop owners as you go. They’ll appreciate your business and maybe even share more of their culture with you.
Stay in a Place You’d Want to Live
Locals don’t stay in a four-star hotel in Paris. Instead, scout out some hip places with various travel sites. See how you can save money but still experience local shops, restaurants and a feeling of the area’s overall vibe. Some travel sites even let you live local, with a local.
Know Local Customs and Show Respect
This is a big one as every country’s culture and customs are different. For example, in Thailand you want to avoid showing the bottoms of your feet out of cultural respect. Research religious beliefs and cultural customs beforehand and become a master observer once you’re there. Even though something may be different than what you’re used to, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Keep an open mind and strive for respect in all situations.
Find Local Events
Don’t lounge by the hotel pool after a day of sightseeing. Try finding local events like festivals, concerts or cultural celebrations while you’re travelling. This is especially important for people looking to move to a new country. Libraries, churches and colleges will become your best friends as you scour for fliers and event advertisements.
Put Down the Camera
It’s easy to fall into the trap of documenting every single moment of a trip abroad. However, you’ll blend in with the locals if you tuck the camera away. There’s a time and place for taking pictures that will help you remember your trip forever. Pull out that Nikon when you’re at the Eiffel Tower but put it away when you’re spending an afternoon in a cute little French café.
What Are You Waiting For?
None of these tips will matter if you don’t buy that plane ticket. Although it can be daunting to travel to a new country, take a second to appreciate the fact you’re embarking on a new adventure. Prepare beforehand by learning some of the language, traditional dress and customs. Then use these tips to stay off the beaten path and live like a local to have the experience of a lifetime.
You might also like:
- 10 Tips to Follow When Travelling Internationally
- 17 Best European Destinations for solo travellers
- Practical guide to save (a lot of ) money and travel the world
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that
expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with
a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself
with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for
the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing
for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com