“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
– Paul Theroux
By definition, a tourist is, “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture.” Whereas, a traveler is, “one that goes on a trip or a journey.”
So, when you travel, do you want to tour and watch things happen? Or do you want to go on a journey and experience things as they happen? To me, watching versus experiencing is the difference between a tourist and a traveler.
If you want to be a traveler and truly experience life abroad, here are some ways to do it:
- Do Intercambios – In Spanish, intercambio means “exchange.” When I was in Spain, we had intercambios with locals where we would speak half the time in Spanish and half the time in English. This is something you can usually schedule through a local school. If you’re going to be in a city for a while, an intercambio partner is a great way to learn the language, make a new friend and learn about the city from a different perspective.
- Go Where the Locals Go – Skip the chain restaurants and find local bars and hot spots. Not only will they provide more culture, they tend to be cheaper and have better food, too!
- Stay in Hostels – Big hotels might be more comfortable, but hostels let you get to know other travelers in the area and usually host pub crawls and events. Hostels are usually run by young locals or transplants who know all the best places to go.
- Learn the Language – I’m not saying you need to be fluent in order to be a “traveler,” but it’s a sign of respect to at least attempt to learn the native language. It might feel embarrassing at first, but speaking with locals is without fail the best way to learn a foreign language.
- Wander – One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to just walk. I usually have a map or track key landmarks so I can make my way back, but just wandering through a foreign city is, for me, one of the most liberating and enjoyable experiences. It’s time to ditch the beaten trail and pave your own!
- Shop Local – Find local farmers markets and stores where you can get fresh food native to the area. There’s a good chance you might not recognize some of the things they have, but hey, you only live once! Ask someone who works at the store how to cook and eat the different foods and try it out.
- Avoid Tourist Traps – There are always some big “must-see” landmarks when you travel abroad, but past that, avoid big touristy spots. There are so many amazing things that every country has to offer, so take the time to explore and find them!
Are you an avid traveler? What tips do you have for living like a local while you’re traveling abroad?
~ Miss Soucie