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HOW TO TRAVEL LIKE A NATIVE

“My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.”
— Marcel Proust

Travel has always been ubiquitous in my life, but I’ve never taken it for granted, lost a love for it, or lost fascination with it. It is definitely a privilege to be able to travel the world, but somehow, I know I would be doing it even as a backpacker staying in a hostel with strangers.

Travel opens one up to all sorts of new ideas, people, cultures, and ways of existing. Most of all, it is a great teacher. Of course, visiting incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites and witnessing the wonders of the world firsthand is nothing to sneeze at, either (that’s why I wrote and created the series “Spartan and the Green Egg”).  When I travel, I don’t like to think of myself as a tourist or even as on vacation—although that is a lovely notion. I prefer to just think of travel as living, only in a different setting. Here are some tips I’ve learned on how to travel like a native and really feel like a local.

Travel opens one up to all sorts of new ideas, people, cultures, and ways of existing. Most of all, it is a great teacher. Of course, visiting incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites and witnessing the wonders of the world firsthand is nothing to sneeze at, either (that’s why I wrote and created the series “Spartan and the Green Egg”).  When I travel, I don’t like to think of myself as a tourist or even as on vacation—although that is a lovely notion. I prefer to just think of travel as living, only in a different setting. Here are some tips I’ve learned on how to travel like a native and really feel like a local.

“To travel is to live.”
— Hans Christian Andersen

Travel Tips

  • Don’t pack too much. We always seem to worry about forgetting something when we pack, but I’ve learned that this is okay. Of course, one must pack the necessities (such as prescribed medications, eyeglasses, contact lenses, etc.), but everything else, including clothes and toiletries, can always be bought wherever you go (unless you’re traveling to a very remote place with no shops). This doesn’t mean one has to spend all their money on shopping abroad, but if you happen to be without something, you can always find a reasonably priced replacement in a foreign city.  This is also a good practice because traveling light is always easier. Many foreign hotels have winding staircases and no lift, so carrying heavy bags up and down stairs can be arduous. Also, when you pack less, you realize that you don’t actually need that much stuff to travel comfortably, and feeling lighter is an impetus to see even more new places.
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Behaving like a native means going to local events, street fairs, flea markets, and open-air fruit and vegetable stands. Eat like the natives and participate in the local activities depending on the weather and time of year. Engage with people and attempt to speak the native language if you can.
  • Don’t stress over the phone. If your phone doesn’t work in another country or roaming fees are astronomical, simply turn it off. Use a paper map when you walk around and allow yourself to get a little bit lost. This is the absolute best way to explore a new city! You never know what interesting things you’ll see. If anyone needs to get in touch with you, make sure they know the name and number of your hotel (try to avoid a popular chain). This is always a good way of keeping in touch, and if you do get separated from your travel companions, it is a surefire way of meeting up again.
  • Dine like a local. Ditch chain restaurants and tourist traps. This way, you can enjoy traditional native cuisine and blend in.
  • Go to a salon. Instead of being completely prepared when you go on a trip, take the opportunity to freshen up and indulge in a little glamour once you arrive. Go to a local beauty parlor and get a haircut or to a salon for a manicure. You’ll be able to experience the beauty culture of a city and relax while doing so.
  • Take public transportation and walk a lot. You may even want to explore while riding a bicycle (or a horse or even a camel!). If you must drive, rent a car (instead of simply taking taxi cabs and ride share services everywhere).
  • Travel during the off-season. This way the city will be your oyster and you can avoid the crowds.
  • Finally, take it easy. We all have specific things we want to do and see in certain places when we travel but, if you follow an itinerary too closely, you’ll end up feeling harried and stressed. Try to take it slow and actually enjoy your trip rather than cramming in one more museum visit.

To learn more about travel, specific places around the globe, adventure, and exploring, check out Spartan and the Green Egg on the website.

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