No matter where in the world you are, just know there are 10 travel tips you can use anywhere to get the most out of your time there. Make it the best experience imaginable! Don’t look back – after some time – saying, “I wish I had done this and that”.
For this reason, we have created a
checklist of things to do for an in-depth look at customs and culture even if
you don’t have a lot of time.
Here is our list of 10 travel tips you can use anywhere at every destination.
Let’s go into detail. We’ll use Mexico as an example, as we’ve been living here for several months now! But really, no matter what destination, if you do these 10 things your stay will be so much richer.
1. Learn the Language
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to become fluent in all the languages of the countries you visit. Just enough to make a connection with the locals.
Learn to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. Maybe learn how to introduce yourself, and how to order a beer (or anything else). You will see that locals open up whenever you make the effort of communicating in their native tongue!
Sometimes the local people don’t
speak English, and communication can be quite challenging. What to do? Break
the ice in their language to build rapport, and
bust out Google translate to bridge any remaining communication gaps.
2. Go to a Restaurant Recommended by a Local
Wait, can we have two number one must tries?
The restaurants at tourist destinations are
often overpriced, and have all kinds of food on the menu – just not the real
deal. To really get to know the local cuisine you have to visit a restaurant
that only locals frequent. How do know you’ve arrived? A place where the menu
is not be written in English is a good sign. Another clue would be a slight
feeling of being out of your comfort zone. I can promise it will be a great
“What is your favorite restaurant” or
“Where do the local families go for dinner”? These are our go to questions when we are chatting with locals.
Want a fancier dining option? Just ask, ‘Which restaurant(s) do the locals go
to when they want to celebrate’. We suggest you add these Q’s to your arsenal,
as well, if you are keen on trying some good, and local food.
3. Visit a Local Market
Go where the locals go to buy their
groceries. Look at all the things that might be different from what is sold in
In Mexico, go to the market (not the
supermarket) to do your groceries, the produce is fresher and (so much) better
priced. You’ll also find delicious meals ready to devour at the market and get
a real look at local life. Just go, and try everything.
Apprehensive? That’s fine! Remember, they, you,
and I have been carried through our respective markets – sometimes kicking and
screaming – by our parents. You don’t have to call them mom or dad, but I am
positive you can find an AirBnB Experience or tour guide to help calm the
nerves. That’s how we got our feet wet with Mercado de Abastos in Oaxaca,
Mexico (a 15 block street market known for its variety of goods, and petty
crime). Now we feel at ease at any market even though we stick out like a sore
4. Use Public Transportation
To get to know a city use public
transportation, like the locals – busses or Tuk-Tuks or the Metro whatever the
popular mode of transport is, use it.
You will have the opportunity to
learn how locals move about their city and in many cases navigating a city by
yourself helps you get to know the place better.
Sometimes using public transport can be scary at first, but I promise it will
be a worthwhile experience. It can be quite complicated too if you don’t have a
good grasp of the language (see point one) and really is an experience in
The public transport in Mexico is vastly different depending on where you are but colectivos (a.k.a Combi: a kind of shared minibus or shuttle) are popular in many small-size cities. They are the perfect (and sometimes only) option for intercity travel between smaller towns. For long distance trips (major intercity or interstate travel) you can travel ADO (the Greyhound of Mexico) at a much less expensive cost than flying – best if you don’t mind slow traveling.
5. Visit a Religious Site
At every destination you visit, there are religious sites. Get to know the culture, a little better, by visiting
at least one. It can be a temple, a church, a shrine,
or even a religious pilgrimage site.
In Mexico, you’d have to be trying pretty hard to not make your way to a church. Wait, what? Almost every town or city is centred around a church, but each is unique – from the architecture to the religious practice. See our post here about the indigenous villages of Chiapas
6. Participate in a Cultural Activity
Most everyone knows, ‘When in Rome’. So, if you have the chance, wherever
you are, definitely participate in anything the locals do. Why? Well, it’s best
to ‘Do as the Roman’s do’, when the goal is expand your cultural
horizons! You know, not only learn and grow, but to blend in.
It can be anything from learning their dancing style to participating in ceremonies like building an altar for Dia de Muertos. Or Zen meditation, tantric yoga, and/or their go to local sport. Cultural festivals will give you a glimpse into the heritage and traditions – don’t miss out!
7. Visit a Place Recommended by a Local
If you only visit the tourist sites,
I am sure that will be a fun trip. But we want you to repeat the traveller’s mantra, “DMO (Don’t Miss OUT)!”
Ask around. The locals will know what kind of
places are really worth a visit, and which
places might not be.
If you prefer a more guided option, we highly
recommend an AirBnB experiences over tour companies as you’ll usually be
dealing with/having your experience with a person wanting to show you their
slice of the world.
In Merida, Mexico Cenotes (crater
filled with water) are a popular
activity but if you visit the known cenote
sites you are likely to be climbing over people to get in the water – ask around,
and blaze the trail less taken.
8. Walk Around Aimlessly
One of the best things you can do to really get to know a place is to walk around, and see where your feet take you. If you only go from tourist attraction to tourist attraction you will miss the most important part: The people living in the place you are currently visiting.
An additional bonus: It’s completely
free! Walking around is one of the best and cheapest ways to get to know a
Another one of our favourite things to do when we get to a new place is take a free walking tour. Try booking on Guru Walk.
9. Ask About the Daily Routine of a Local
Not only will you have a perfect
reason to start a conversation with a local, you will also probably learn
something about the culture of the place in the process. Just ask your host or
any random person you meet in a bar or on the streets.
A wise post once noted, ‘Get them talking about themselves and their is no limit to what you can learn’ – don’t miss out!
10. Capture all Experiences in Pictures and Text
To wrap up our 10 travel tips you can use anywhere, our advice is to capture all you memories. We write a blog about our experiences, but you don’t have to. You could just write a diary, or use an App. Or fill a scrapbook.
If you do these 10 things at every
destination, your trips will be awesome and memorable. Why?
Because you didn’t leave anything undone!
What other things should people do at a destination? Tell us in the comments!