Recently, Matt Long, creator of Landlopers and self-described normal person who just wants to get the most out of his traveling, shared his best tips with Yahoo Travel, on engaging and embracing your destination when you take a vacation. We thought you’d benefit from his sage advice.
Except his first tip worried me a bit. He suggests getting lost. As in, on purpose. Long believes there’s much lost from visiting a place if you seek to remain comfortable, only “exploring” the well-known tourist areas of any given city. So, in order to force himself to experience wherever he is like the locals, he intentionally shuts off Google maps and takes off on foot from his hotel for a walkabout.
“Along the way,” Long says, “I always discover little things I would never have found otherwise and, more importantly, I start to get a feel for the real city away from the tourist bubble.”This leads to his second tip: shop a local grocery store. Besides being economical, Long believes you will learn more about the culture you’re trying to experience if you peruse one of its easiest-to-engage gateways, food.
“Food and travel go hand in hand,” Long wrote, “and it really is the best way to become a part of a new culture, rather than just a voyeur.” You’ll be able to purchase snacks and drinks cheaper at a grocery store than at your hotel, and you could even put together a light meal there to take al fresco.
Long also recommends talking to people. “Whether we vacation as a family or a couple, we all tend to stay fixated on our own packs,” Long said, “rarely engaging other travelers or locals. For me, travel is about personal enrichment and growth, and to do that I need to talk to people.”
If you don’t feel comfortable striking up a conversation, Long suggests joining a local walking tour. You’ll meet other travelers, and you’ll have access to someone with a breadth of knowledge who also likes to talk to people from other countries!
Becoming immersed in a different world is part of the appeal of traveling. What are your suggestions for making the most of your time away from home? How do you engage and embrace your destination? Leave us some ideas in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.