How to Travel Without Being a Tourist

The word “tourist” can have some very big connotations around the world — some positive, and some quite negative.

There is a certain type of traveler that spends their entire vacation comparing the place they’re visiting with home, usually in a negative way. “These people don’t know how to build a house…”, “These people don’t know how to make an omelet…”, etc. They’re not really open to a new experience. What they’re really doing is trying to recreate their world at home while they’re away.

There are plenty of opportunities to have a vacation experience that won’t move you out of your cultural comfort zone too much… Disney World and cruise ships come to mind, and so does the old standby – the “staycation.” There’s nothing wrong with these types of getaways. For many people, they provide the ideal escape. Even the most adventurous mountain climber can sometimes crave the comfort of a resort hotel.

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Comfort vs. Adventure

Sometimes, though, we want our vacations to be more than just a respite from work. We choose to go to new places, have new experiences, and meet new people. And we want our experiences to differ from the ones we have every day. It’s hard, however, to let go of our America-centered prejudices (and there’s a reason these exist – we enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world) and truly embrace the culture of the places we are visiting. Here are some tips for better immersing yourself in the daily routines of your destination:

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Keep an Open Mind

Just because a culture does something you’re not used to, doesn’t make it wrong. There are places where the pace of life is a lot slower than it is in America, and many Americans are of the opinion that “These people just never get anything done.” Cultural customs, traditions, and even daily life have evolved differently in different regions. Try to enjoy the differences.

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