For example, if you're feeling up for it, how about picking up some groceries at the market and making your own food? It'll make you feel like a true local.
Traveling to places you’ve never been before is a unique way to explore the world while having new experiences and adventures. At the same time, traveling helps you clear the mind from a monotonous routine, and after your trip has ended, you come home filled with positive vibes and a broader knowledge of other cultures. However, planning the perfect trip can get complicated, especially because we are unsure of what to do when we get there or even where to go – at least that's what happens to me. In a way, we want to absorb and see as much from that place as possible, like the best spots to eat, nightlife, and the locals' everyday activities. But you won't find this in a travel agency; they usually just send you to the busiest places where all the tourists are. For that reason, I've listed five of my favorite, unique experiences for you to try on your next trip.
Book an Airbnb.
The good thing about renting a place through Airbnb is getting to experience a more intimate visit to the place you are traveling to. While you could just as easily stay in a hotel close to the most popular (and expensive) areas, staying with a local will help you learn about their way of life and what their customs are. For example, my friends and I once rented part of a house with a family in Portland, and it was a great experience. They even suggested their favorite spots to drink and grab a bite. It was an unforgettable experience that helped me take part in the lifestyle of that city.
Shop at the local markets.
In order to fully absorb the beauty of other cultures, you must explore every single corner. I always take a walk around the local markets where I can smell and taste different spices, buy handcrafts and souvenirs, and compare their products to my hometown's. You can also have incredible experiences at these places, which are usually some of the busiest in a city. It helps you understand the city and its residents better. You learn about their customs and traditions along the way too. The colors, smells, and symbols that would help you remember these places the most.
Eat where the locals eat.
The worst thing you can do when traveling to another country is end up eating at McDonald's – seriously. I understand the change of food can sometimes be harsh on your stomach, and that the language barrier can frustrate your attempts to find out more about a specific food item on the menu, but giving local restaurants a try could result in one of your best dinning experiences. For instance, while I was walking around in Margherita, Italy, my brother and I stopped by a rustic home where pizza slices were being sold. I think that was the best margherita I've ever had, and they even served wine with it.
Do your sightseeing, but then get off the beaten path.
If it's your first time in New York City, of course you're going to want to see the Statue of Liberty, but don’t let all your decisions be determined by a travel guide: use technology and, most importantly, the locals’ tips to find things to do and places to visit. For example, did you know there is an underground tunnel system with millions bones resting below Paris streets? They're known as the Catacombs, and they're the most underrated must-see in Paris.
Dare to try new things.
If you are in a place where nobody knows you, you shouldn't be afraid to try new things, or things you've always wanted to do but where embarrassed to (technically, you should never feel like this, but doing it while traveling is a great start). What I mean with this is: it's okay to dare yourself to do activities you wouldn't do at home. For example, try dancing salsa at a local Havana bar if you happen to visit Cuba –many people will be happy to teach you–, skydive over the Palm Drop Zone if you go to Dubai, or snorkel in a beautiful and large barrier reef, like the one in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
When you visit a new place, don’t stay cooped up in your hotel room all day! Get out and explore the neighborhoods, markets, and streets to get a taste of the local life. Ask around and find out more about what to do and where to eat in the area –most of the time, people are kind enough to give you tips. In addition, technology can really help you if you struggle to communicate. If you go to another country where they don’t speak the same language, use your phone to help translate, and problem solved. Use these tips on your next trip, and you’ll see how you make the most of your traveling experience.
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Cover image: @albionfit