When we travel abroad, it could be so easy to fall into the role of the everyday “tourist.” But with a few alterations to your plans, you can easily feel connected with everyday life in any foreign country. If you want to get under the skin of a location and experience anywhere like a real local, here are some amazing ways to travel Europe under the radar.
Learn the Customs and Language
The fact is that if you only know “thank you” and “hello,” this means that you are making more of an effort to engage with people anywhere in the world. It doesn’t take much time to find out how to say “please” and “thank you.” While there are sites like G-Extreme Travel that have an abundance of languages under their belt, there is no need to feel intimidated. A quick Google can easily show what the local customs are. And when you make a point to greet people in a nice manner it’s amazing what you will get back.
What’s more, there are plenty of ways your phone can help you with this too. A quick use of Google translate can help you understand some of the local instructions. And, downloading an app called DuoLingo will allow you to learn the basics of a certain language whilst you are on the move, which can enrich your communication skills and allow you to use a couple of phrases; even ordering in the native language, like a local.
There is no point hitting the tourist sites because there will be plenty of people going there anyway. In Europe, there are so many destinations that are highly walkable that you can easily get to know a place on foot. Wherever you go, don’t forget to get lost and discover places you’ve not been able to find with a quick Google. And if you are concerned about getting lost there’s always the trusty phone that will get you out of a jam. The fact is that you might find so many little restaurants and spots that only the truly local people know about.
With a little bit of research before hitting your destination, you can get an idea of what is around and the kinds of things that you can see and visit. This way you can earmark specific landmarks, buildings, or attractions that you want to see, and make your way there by yourself. This shows courage and initiative, and will make you feel more like someone who belongs there.
Start a Conversation
When you venture outside of your vacation bubble take the opportunity to speak with people that cross your path. You may already be in conversations with people via Instagram and so if you know someone that knows someone, get together for a drink. The great thing is that you may make a new friend, or you will find some amazing local spots that you would have never encountered.
Take Public Transport
This is a no-brainer, not just because it’s cheaper but the fact is if you go around in taxis or on a tour bus you are not going to get a lay of the land. Using a metro or bus line is going to give you a different perspective of daily life where you are. And as an added bonus, you will have a subway ticket that will be a nice little souvenir of your travels.
Ride the metro the length of the city and get off at a random stop, maybe just one you like the name of. Spend a bit of time here, and then get back on and head to somewhere else. Of course, you should also do due diligence, so that, like a local, you know about the sketchier areas that you need to try to avoid on your own.
Eat the Regional Foods
Local specialties are always an amazing way to get stuck into the history of where you are. The fact is that variety is the spice of life and if you don’t try it, you don’t know if you’ll like it! From a brioche crema in the center of Milan to snails in the middle of Paris, there’s plenty to choose from that can tickle your tastebuds in ways you had never anticipated.
Whichever destination you’ve chosen to visit, pick the popular local dish of that town or city and try it. You might get to try things you’ve never had before, and you may even uncover some delicacies that you are a big fan of. So, you need to try to make the right decisions that will help you to have a fulfilling culinary experience.