How To Be A Traveler Not a Tourist: 7 radically simple ways to experience a new place
By – David Blood
This is probably the single best way to experience a new place. By walking you are taking in the environment at a slow pace which allows you to use all of your senses.
Get rid of “The List”
Jettison anything that’s going to tell you where to go. Allowing yourself and your fellow travelers to experience the city your way will allow for a much more memorable time.
On one of my recent walks I came across the childhood home of a famous American author. A group of people outside the house read the historical marker. Only after gaping reverently at the otherwise ordinary house remarked: “Who was she?”
Many vacations are ruined by the rush of seeing the next thing on “The List” By cramming the itinerary you are missing all of the little things that could make your trip memorable. Keep your options open and remember to have a good time.
Ask someone for directions or for a restaurant recommendation. Not everyone will be receptive but most people are eager to show off their city.
Don’t stay in a hotel (especially a chain)
Separating where you are “staying” from the place you are “seeing” is a common way that people remove themselves from the everyday life of a city. If you can, stay with friends, at a bed and breakfast (often run and owned by local people), or use an online tool such as Airbnb or Couchsurfing to stay with locals.
Most people think traveling requires thousands of dollars, weeks of vacation, and an exotic destination but much can be discovered in your own neighborhood. We are often much less familiar with our own everyday environment than we would think and also unfairly skeptical of its worth as a travel destination.
Put the smartphone away
Upon returning from months of roadtripping across these United States, family and friends were astounded at how few photos I had taken. Many people feel that if it wasn’t documented it didn’t count (or didn’t even happen!) I found that without the need to capture everything I was much more relaxed and enjoyed my time more. Instead of snapping a picture with your smart phone, consider sketching the scene or simply take a “mental picture” by studying it as if it were a painting. The more you are reaching for the phone, the less you are enjoying the ride.
Experience places on your own terms and at a leisurely pace. You will not regret it.