How to Travel Without Being a Tourist

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Don’t Be Afraid to Meet People

A country’s collective culture is the sum total of all the people who live there. While it can be unnerving to introduce yourself to complete strangers (especially if there’s a language barrier), you have to remember that it’s the human bonds you form on your travels that make an experience in a foreign culture memorable. While it’s important to be careful, remember that 99.9% of the people you meet aren’t criminals, and that most will be just as happy to meet you as you are to meet them. Now, this isn’t to say you should throw caution to the winds and follow complete strangers down dark alleys. Use your common sense, make sure somebody knows where you are at all times, and have regular check-ins.

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When in Rome

Try and stay away from the “tourist traps.” They’ll sell you a watered down version of the local culture at an inflated price. Seek out people who live in the region, and do what they do. If everyone commutes by bus, don’t take a cab. If you look around a restaurant in Europe, and see more Americans than locals, you’re in the wrong place.

Stay at places off the beaten path. You’ll not only save money by moving away from “luxury” accommodations of resort hotels, but you’re far more likely to have a “genuine” experience in a hostel or a downtown hotel than you’re going to have at an all-inclusive resort.

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