Don't be a tourist, be a traveller.
In " Travelling tips, vol.1" we looked at tips for before the trip.
This article, vol. 2, provides helpful tips for during the trip experience.
If you’re anything like me, it rubs you the wrong way to be called a tourist when you rather identify yourself as a traveller.
When venturing abroad, travellers might find themselves soaking up the smells at the local markets, marveling at the colors of fabrics and landscapes, listening to local conversations at the café, seeking out incredible restaurants only known by locals or they are on a quest for the ultimate best coffee in town - all the while learning to mispronounce a few words in the native language.
Us travellers who seek non-digital alternatives LIVE for those incredible moments, which can completely take our breath away. We want a true travel encounter, without the fabricated digital memory.
With my years of travel under my belt, here are tried and tested tips to keep your travels authentic & memorable in the full sense of the word.
TOP TIPS TO BE A TRAVELLER
PART 2: DURING 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. Buy a good road map
What could be more iconic and friendly than a traveller with an open paper map on the cafe table or the hood of the car, eh?
Invest in a large sized road map, with as much detail as possible. Worth every penny.
Make sure it includes detailed sections of the city, with main streets and landmarks.
When getting directions from locals, pull out that map!
Don’t be precious about it either; take notes, write on it, circle places, draw routes.
+ TIP FOR EXTRA FUN!
When getting directions from a local, instead of accepting the confusing « left, then a right, then left... » take 3 minutes to get a quick hand-drawn map on a napkin or a receipt!!
They are generally more successful at getting you there & allow for amusing moments.
2. Leave your phone behind (safely) in your room
I know this will be a challenge for some of us. So be brave. You can do it!
It might bring a tad of initial discomfort, so it is helpful to acknowledge how addictive our phones can truthfully be. Look at this as a well-deserved digital break & detox.
I’m not suggesting an all-or-nothing situation. Simply, leave your phone in your room behind, as often as possible during your trip.
Use your awesome film camera to take pictures. (see vol.1)
Build confidence in orientation, feel more like a local.
Much more socially friendly to your travel buddies and those around you.
3. Collect keepsakes
I’m talking about cool little things such as coasters, tickets from activities or ferries, activity flyers, programs from museums, postcards, business cards, stickers, etc.
Paper keepsakes are an excellent way to keep the info of the place you enjoyed, would like to remember, or may want to recommend to others.
These mementoes are a clever alternatives to pictures & often are beautifully designed, with a uniquely local style. Keep them together in your notebook or bag.
4. Buy a soap
Smell is a deep direct link into memory.
By the way, that’s why we spend time on our craft beer tours discovering and enjoying the aromas of each beer!
Upon arrival, buy a local soap (fancy or not, as you wish), with a scent you like. Put it in your suitcase and let the smell permeate your trip each time you open your bags.
This scent will become your aromatic trail and will strengthen your memory.
After your trip, keep the soap in a drawer, or with your other travel keepsakes, or use it to bathe. Each time you smell it again, you'll travel back to that distinct place & time.
5. Send postcards home
You will never, ever regret sending a postcard! I repeat; you will never regret it.
At the first chance you get to find a post office or even at the airport upon arrival, buy international stamps. Get plenty, say 5-10.
You’ll find postcards of different styles and aesthetics at tourist shops, book stores, art galleries. Do not hesitate to buy plenty of cards as you travel around; they are fantastic tokens.
Write anecdotes if the mood strikes you, but if nothing much comes to mind, just write « Greetings from Chania! Love, Your Name, Date ».
I can not emphasize how wonderful and connected the recipients will feel. It will add a whole new level to having been in another land.
6. Say yes! Then Show up.
Travel Rule #1: Safety first. Always.
Then go with the flow.
Embrace the unknown & being surprised by life.
Accept invitations that spark your interest. Art exhibition? Live music night? Theatre? Film festival? Special night at a bar? Friendly invitation?
Then SHOW UP.
Resist the urge to cancel or say “whatever, next time”. This IS the time. Carpe Diem!
And then... let the magic of travel happen to you.
+ EXTRA TIP: Try not to over-plan. Embrace the traveller part of you; the one who is curious, open for adventure, inspired by the local spirit and perhaps bold to ad lib a little.
7. Follow the music
One of the best ways to engage all your senses at once is attending live music.
Find live music on posters around town, cafes or ask for recommendations.
Local panigiri (summer festival) happening? Those are some of the best!
Not only will you hear live music, which strums the strings of our bodies & souls, you'll also discover a cultural part of the land through its songs and instruments.
It doesn’t get much more authentic than live music, folks.
8. Invest in small group activities & gastronomy tours.
We mentioned this tip in vol.1: before your trip as well. It bears repeating!
Make your entertainment budget count: invest in experiences worthy of your coins.
Look for eco-friendly tours in small groups that explore a local side & less-travelled paths.
I especially recommend gastronomy tours; food & drink tours!
Speaking from experience on our Craft Beer Walking Tours & Street Art Tour, not only will you meet other international travellers keen on having a great time too, you’ll also get to taste local delicacies that you might miss otherwise.
You are likely to find guides who are passionate and with the TOP recommendations.
Remember to shower your guides with raving reviews & tips if they did a great job!
Look for keywords such as "craft beer tour", "food tour", "local tour", small group", "hidden gems", "eco-tourism" and “non-touristy”.
9. Soak it all up. Moment by moment.
Take a few nice deep breaths. Relax and smile.
Take it all in; the sun, the air, the sounds, the tastes, the aromas, the feeling.
Force yourself to just be here. Remember that you have nowhere else to be.
Trust that even if you don’t remember the details of each moment, that they are part of your experience during your adventure, which has left a mark on you.
If you do just the ONE thing on this list, this is the one.
Don't Be A Tourist; Be A Traveller.
Read the connected article Travelling tips, vol.1: Before the trip click right here.
These travel tips have transformed the way I travel. I hope they enrich your travels too.
➤ Which tip will have the best impact on YOUR next trip??
➤ Let us know in the comments below!
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See you soon in Crete & Greece with Bonnie and Clyde Urban tours:
non-touristy tours for young-at-heart travellers.