Getting to know your destination
People often talk about traveling as though it’s always an enlightening, edifying experience. While trips can certainly be those things, the kind of trips that most people take just aren’t. People tend to get to their chosen destinations, ogle at the place’s most famous landmarks, eat some of the local cuisine and go back home.
To truly get a feel for the place, you have to be a little bit more adventurous than that. Some of the ways you can do this involve getting a little extra help. Some of them involve you actually being a lot more casual and independent at the location, treating the place almost as you would your own home town.
When we plan a vacation, we often make a list of all the things we want to see when we get there. While this can be an effective way of ensuring that you end up doing everything you want to do, it often doesn’t leave a lot of time to simply wander around. There always has to be some specific destination if we’re walking around.
But one of the best ways to get a much deeper feel of the place is to just wander around. Instead of planning to go to a specific landmark, take at least an hour or two each day to step outside and start walking in whatever direction takes your fancy. Take the time to explore the nooks and crannies. This will make you feel much more familiar with the place in no time. After all, most of us go for a wander around our home towns from time to time!
Get in touch with the locals
By connecting with the people who live in the place you’re visiting, you’ll come to understand the place a lot more. To you, this place is a somewhat strange environment; for the locals, it’s simply their everyday reality! You could also get some location suggestions from the locals. After all, the guidebooks and tour guides aren’t going to show you everything a place has to offer, and the locals may know some cool places off the beaten path to check out.
Of course, depending on where you’re headed, this may mean that you actually have to learn how to communicate with the locals! That means it’s really best to try to get to grips with the basics of the language of the place. If you’re just wandering around without a basic knowledge of the language, then you’re really going to feel alienated. After all, how many times have we been to a foreign country only to wish we’d tried to learn more of the language?
Take a tour
Sometimes, being led around by the right tour guides can give you a really in-depth view of what the place works, what its people is like, and what kind of history took place. A good touring holiday is recommended for those who don’t have much time to do their own research or learn any of the local language.
Because the tour guides themselves will have an intimate knowledge of the area, it’s worth talking to them for advice for places to go. They won’t always recommend the places that are shown specifically on the tour! In this sense, the right touring holiday can be a great way to have a sort of ‘sage’ on the trip with you, guiding you towards a strong familiarity with this new place!
This is actually something you can get started on before the vacation. Use the Internet to look up some of the history of the location. Another underrated tactic is to get some novels set in the place that you’re visiting. A lot of people may argue that fiction couldn’t possibly be that helpful in this regard. But seeing how people’s imaginations play out in such a place can actually work really well when it comes to giving you a great picture of the place and its people. To take a simple example, Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon can give you a very intimate feel for the people and places of New York City, despite its wild plot.
Reading the local newspapers when you get there, of course, can give you a really great picture of the place. It will also give you something specific to discuss with the locals! You can check out local news sites online before you head off, but try to pick up a newspaper or two when you actually arrive.