Stepping out of your comfort zone to travel beyond your home can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. However, with some advice from experienced globetrotters, your international adventure doesn’t have to be intimidating. Instead, you can learn how to immerse yourself in the local culture and leave with an appreciation of a place once totally unfamiliar to you.
Check out these five tips from expert travelers to help you become a true global traveler.
1. Parlez-vous Anglais? If you’re going to France and don’t understand what this phrase means, grab a book of basic French phrases and brush up on the flight across the pond. EarthxPlorer’s JD Andrews shares: “Try to learn the basics of the native language you’re visiting: please, thank you, bathroom, how much, where is, etc. In my experience, if the locals see that you’re trying to speak their language, they appreciate it and sometimes even help you with pronunciation. Plus, it’s a great icebreaker to chat and connect.”
2. Start with a tour. Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel suggests: “Get familiar with the area and its history, and then ask the tour guide for his or her favorite local spots, away from the tourist sites, where you can engage and connect.”
3. Visit the local market. Skip chain stores and restaurants. They will be there when you get home. Andrews suggests travelers should “see what the locals are buying, hear what they’re saying (if you speak the language) and ask for recommendations on what to see and where to go for lunch or dinner.”
4. Don’t overschedule yourself. Rushing around means you won’t be able to fully experience and learn from each stop on your itinerary.
“My best experiences have always been when I least expected them,” shares Matthew Long of Landlopers.
5. Choose your tourist spots wisely. Crowds, noise and higher prices will only take away from your travel experience. While there may be a few world-famous landmarks or pieces of art you’re dying to see, spend the majority of your trip on the road less traveled.
Learn more about avoiding tourist traps at these off-the-beaten-path Caribbean locations.