I recently teamed up with Credit Card Insider to discuss ways to maximize your travel experience.
Making the most of your trip depends heavily on what you are looking to get out of the experience. When I travel I want to get to know a city, see the ins and outs of the locale and then leave with a deeper understanding of that culture.
After looking back on my time during study abroad and my time traveling, I’ve come up with the ways I make sure I get the most out of my travel experience. Without a doubt, my most valuable experiences happen when I let go of my plans and live like a local.
Learning to Live Like a Local
1. OPT FOR HOMESTAYS OR BED AND BREAKFASTS
There is nothing to rival the experience of living with a host family during study abroad. You are dumped right into the local culture all the way down to the family’s daily routines. As for when you are traveling, family-owned bed and breakfasts are the way to go. I made my way through the Greek islands one B&B at a time and received amazing restaurant recommendations, tips for where to go, advice on how to get there and the warmest welcomes I could have asked for.
2. AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, STAY OFF THE BEATEN PATH
When I studied abroad in Paris I opted to live in an apartment near Oberkampf. In addition to enjoying all of the regular tourist attractions, I settled into a quiet little neighborhood, mastered the metro system and explored parts of the city I never would have known existed.
3. EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT
It’s always fun to indulge in a great meal when your in a new city but some of my best meals have been devoured in tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants or crouched on stools outside of a street food stall. This is no secret, so do a search online and ask other travelers, expats or locals where they like to eat. You’ll find an abundance of great reviews.
4. TAKE THE TRAIN, RIDE A FERRY, GO FOR A WALK
When I traveled through Italy, we opted for the slow train between cities, and in Thailand we took the bus and the ferry to the islands rather than fly. It may take longer, but choosing the slow route creates relaxing downtime and you get to experience your surroundings.
5. MAKE A FRIEND WHO HAS ALREADY MASTERED THE CITY
Before I go on a trip I find at least one blogger who has been there before and get their experience on the destination. When I arrive I make friends with other travelers who have spent more time in the area. Having their advice saves me time and helps me hit all the highlights.
6. AND ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS
Whether it’s directions or a delicious dinner that you need, ask for help. Locals are generally willing and friendly, plus they are full of great recommendations from personal experience. As an added bonus, you’ll get to meet people.
Got the travel bug? Want to plan weekend trips during study abroad? Here’s how I planned my excursions to Italy and Greece.
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