How to avoid busy tourist traps and escape the beaten path

November 12, 2014

Seeing how the locals live can be a rewarding experience when travelling. Here are some tips onhow to avoid busy tourist traps and escape the beaten path.
When travelling to a foreign country, most people want to see the big sights, but also get off the beaten path and experience something unique. Here are a few tips on how to avoid crowded tourist traps and create a memorable vacation.
Before you leave home
Guide books can be a great way to research the sights and cultures of a new city. However, if you are reading it then so are thousands of others!

  • Consider expanding your research past typical travel books.
  • Use social media sites to ask your friends for their tips, favorite spots and what to avoid.
  • Smartphone apps can help you find restaurants that have been reviewed by locals. Take a chance and prepare to sample some cuisine you wouldn’t have at home!

If any of your friends have family or acquaintances at your destination, get their contact info.

  • People love being tourists in their own city and, if nothing else, they can give you tips on where to go and what to eat that isn’t the typical tourist fare.

Once you’re there
When you get to your destination, chat with taxi drivers and hotel doormen for their recommendations. They may start with the obvious choices thinking that’s what a tourist wants to hear, but let them know you are looking for a “local” experience.

  • Ask where THEY like to eat dinner or what beach THEY go to on their down time. Be sure to tip from the moment you arrive and they will continue to give you great advice.

Other ways to explore

  • Rent a bike and explore the city on wheels (if it’s safe). You’ll be surprised at the things you discover. Be sure to plan your route in advance so you don’t get completely lost or end up in a dangerous area—although sometimes getting a little lost can lead to lots of fun!
  • Talk to the locals, whether it’s your hotel maid or the server at the coffee shop. They will help you find experiences that are not the typical tourist traps.
  • If you are in a big city, try the “jump on, jump off” style buses, which will help you get familiar with the city’s layout. Once you have the gist, take transit and explore neighbourhoods you wouldn’t otherwise find on a tour bus.

Don't avoid well-know attractions

Just because you want to get away from the tourist traps doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see the big, well-known attractions.

  • If you do want to take in sights like the Taj Mahal or the Tower of London, go early in the morning when the attractions first open to avoid the masses.

Then you’ve got all day to discover the rest of the city!

How to avoid busy tourist traps and escape the beaten path
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