Updated: 2 days ago
If you’re anything like me, it rubs you the wrong way to be called a tourist when you rather identify with the title of traveller.
When venturing abroad, us travellers might find ourselves soaking up the smells at the local markets, marveling at the colors of fabrics and landscapes, listening to conversations at the café, seeking out unique restaurants or on a quest for the ultimate best coffee in town... all the while learning to mispronounce a few words in the native language.
As a traveller, I cringe at the thought of being a tourist... glued to my cellphone screen, missing the charm of the place, being herded like a sheep, paying too much for awful food or beer. Most importantly, I refuse to be part of mass-tourism which has no interest in protecting the beauty & resources which drew me and others from all corners of the world.
Us travellers who seek non-digital alternatives LIVE for those incredible fleeting moments: authentic, genuine experiences which can completely take our breath away.
Call us old-school. We don't mind. We want to know the place. The real deal.
With my years of travel under my belt, here are tried and tested tips to keep your travels authentic & memorable in full sense of the word.
TIPS FOR AUTHENTIC TRAVELS
PART 1: BEFORE THE TRIP
“To travel is to live” – Hans Christian Anderson
The key is to allow yourself to engage your senses in the real-time moments.
Smell. See. Touch. Taste. Hear. Feel.
These, thankfully, can not be replicated digitally.
1. Get a disposable film camera (or two!)
Pictures are indisputably one of the most effective ways to keep memories alive.
Photo albums, framed pictures and stacks of pictures are some of the most cherished possessions one keeps throughout their life.
It blew my mind, once I started using disposable film cameras, how much more relaxed I became about capturing the moment.
With disposable film cameras, we shift the focus away from being perfectionists & adopt a more soulful approach.
In the end, you’ll have 24+ poses of treasured moments not because you posted them online, but because you hold them in your hands.
Another great thing? The actual film of the camera gives an aesthetic that can not be replicated digitally. It’s analog, a real physical element. It's timeless.
2. Bring a travel notebook
Like many travellers, I like writing down a few notes along the way.
Your notebook may become a logbook, a journal or simply a paper companion.
I personally mine to note down places I visited, people I met, contact info, bars & restaurants I loved, the name of the excellent beers I drank, etc.
This may also help recount your travel tales factually.
3. Leave the laptop at home
Stress-free about your prized belongings being damaged or stolen.
Lighter weight for bags & luggage.
Keeps you out of non-work mode & out of your daily routine.
4. Collect a few mailing address
No need to get everyone's address now. A handful of close friends and family will do.
Get the full mailing address (postal code and all).
Compile them in a safe place such as your travel notebook or your phone notes.
See why in next week's Part Two: During Your Trip
5. Pick ONE music mix & play it on repeat
This tip is one of my personal favorites because it came to me as a phenomenal side-effect & left me truly surprisingly fulfilled.
During my 3 week trip in Maui Hawai’i, someone had lovingly made me a playlist playfully called « Hawaii Five O ». I had these nice 20-30 song mix downloaded to my phone, listened to them getting from point A to B, on the bus, in the car or in my room. Without realizing it, these songs became the soundtrack to my trip. It strengthened my sense of place & time through sound and music. Now, every time I hear Kinky Reggae by Bob Marley and the Wailers, or Havana Moon by Chuck Berry, I am instantly transported back to cruising a starry sky with palm trees and the sea.
Take the time you need to create a unique travel soundtrack for yourself or pick a ready-made playlist of choice.
Make sure it has different energy levels & that it fits the vibe of where you’re heading to (literally and symbolically).
Take it from John Cusack in High Fidelity...
"Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art."
6. S l o w . I t . D o w n .
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing my friends. It can cause you to run around without having the time to breathe in what you set out to visit in the first place.
Adopt the wise motto: LESS IS MORE.
Book longer stays in one place & make the most of it.
Plant your roots somewhere accessible & explore with full day or half-day trips.
Resist the urge to try and see all the « top rated » places in a single visit.
Let your schedule be light & breezy; allow time gaps between activities & transport.
Trust the journey and may things unfold as they will.
7. Invest in small group activities & gastronomy tours
Make your entertainment budget count: invest in experiences worthy of your coins.
Skip the over-crowded day-trips, filled with tourists operated by nameless companies focused on numbers.
Find small-group tours run by companies & people who care. Support eco-friendly alternatives.
Regardless of social media, focus on the few important activities for YOU. The rest will fall into place.
Especially recommended gastronomy activities: eat & drink like a local!
Discover non-ordinary experiences like Craft Beer Walking Tours & Street Art Tour. Not only will you meet other international travellers also keen on having a great time, but you’ll also get the city's orientation.
Most likely you'll find guides who are dynamic, passionate, have gusto and with the TOP recommendations for your stay. Shower them with raving reviews & tips ( if they did a great job )!
Look for keywords such as "craft beer tour", "food tour", "walking tour", small group", "eco-tourism" and “non-touristy”.
The delectable moments you will have are worth their price. Mm! Mm!
These travel tips have transformed the way I travel. I hope they enrich your travels too.
Stay tuned for next week's article:
Which tip would make YOUR next trip extra memorable??
Let us know in the comments below!
Stay in the loop on our Craft Beer & Travel newsletter here.
See you soon in Crete & Greece with Bonnie and Clyde Urban tours:
non-touristy tours for young-at-heart travellers.