You go to Paris and, of course, you see the Eiffel Tower. You go to China and, of course, you see The Great Wall. You don’t want to miss out on the landmarks when you visit a new country, but you also don’t want to get sucked into visiting only tourist traps — if you do, you’ll end up with the same vacation stories as everyone else.
Try hanging out with the locals or doing what they do to get a real sense of a place. You’ll meet some interesting people, you’ll learn more about a culture, and you’ll enjoy unique experiences.
Here are a few ways that you can act like a local to enjoy a more memorable vacation abroad:
Play a Round of Golf
Unless you’re a traveling pro who’s visiting a renowned golf course, the only reason most people have to go to a golf course is to enjoy some leisure time with friends or to network with associates. It’s not the kind of thing that most people do on vacation. Therefore, you can expect that the majority of people you’re going to find on any given golf course in the world are Average Joes just getting away from work for a few hours or whiling away a lazy Sunday.
A company like golfscape can help you find the best courses in the country you plan to visit. You can also ask around to find out what courses are most worth your time.
Eat Some of the Local Delicacies
Sure, Italy is known for its pasta and Japan is known for its sushi. But you can get both of those dishes at home, and pretty much every person who visits these countries will eat these dishes. You don’t have to skip out on these delights, but you should expand your palette to try some of the local delicacies, as well.
For example, you might try eating insects in Bangkok or eating live octopus in Seoul. Of course, you can also get escargot in Paris or haggis in Glasgow. Eat like the locals eat, and you might even discover a new favorite dish.
See a Local Band
You can learn a lot about a culture from its music. But don’t limit yourself to the breakthrough acts that you can hear on the radio (even if it is satellite radio). Go see a local band play at a local venue. You’ll learn about up-and-coming acts before anyone else back home, and you’ll get to rub elbows with the locals.
While you’re there, try out some of the local drinks or eats and talk to some of the residents about what other things you should try. You might learn about a great location off the beaten path.
Attend a Local Festival
Technically, any festival that takes place is a local festival. But we’re talking about the smaller festivals that celebrate local traditions, religious beliefs, or holidays that are not big draws for a wider crowd. Attend a flower festival in a small village in China, a music festival on the beach in Prague, or a wine festival in Barcelona. You can find out about such events by checking out the listings at the local welcome or visitor’s center.
Go to the Library
The library is the information center of almost any community. You might find some events actually taking place at the library, but you are more likely to learn about other great events helping in and around the community. You can learn about resources in the community, potential discounts or free days, and more. Of course, if you hang out long enough and are chatty, you can also meet some locals and maybe even make a new friend for your trip.
Getting to travel overseas is such a gift. How often will you actually get to visit Paris or Venice? Instead of just taking a gondola ride and eating a lot of pizza, make sure you also go to that little shop in the alley that makes the most amazing ravioli and that you watch that cobbler demonstration at the shop the locals use. Act like the locals and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.