“Traveling is not something you’re good at. It’s something you do, like breathing”, said the author Gayle Forman. And, indeed, exploring new places and meeting new cultures is an essential part of our lives even if we don’t realize it right away.
Travelling can be fun and inspiring, as well as an educational experience. And, we at MSE Málaga think that one of the best ways to experience life is by going to new and exciting places and to make lots of unforgettable memories.
In order to help you get the best out of every trip, we made a list of all the things you have to do when you are on the road:
1. Talk to locals
Don’t be shy to meet local people and talk to kind strangers on your next trip. You will be surprised how welcoming people can be – no matter their age, religion or language. It is a personal and unique way to learn about the place you visit and you may hear some stories that no one else can tell you – those stories will connect you with a person and his name.
Talking to locals is a an opportunity to hear their voices, shake someone’s hand and why not, maybe you will make a new friend! Your local tour guide, street vendors or staff in the restaurants will help you see the place from the eyes of your new local friends.
2. Try new food
Even if you don’t like trying new things that much, eating local food when travelling is one of the best ways to experience your destination. Trying couscous in Morocco or souvlaki in Greece can be an opportunity for stories you’re going to tell for a long time after.
3. Leave your prejudices at home
Listen, observe and respect. When you travel RESPECT every aspect of the local culture, because it is probably one of the reasons that made you visit this country. LISTEN and don’t try to change these people. You travel to learn, not to change the world. Leave your prejudices at home -this will make you be able to OBSERVE what is happening in front of you without filters, make you understand why and how they do the things that they do.
People from different parts of the world have different traditions and ways of living. And you can learn something from all of them. Try to understand them and open your mind for new points of view.
4. Buy a typical local gift to a friend
When you visit a new destination buying a typical gift to a friend or to your family is a must. If you have the time, try not to buy it from the top touristic shops – go to the local market and find something characteristic for the place you are. That way it will be more authentic and appreciated by your friends.
Or use the old-fashioned way – send them a postcard. With all the social media, we forget about snail mail which still has its charm. Despite the delay, a postcard with your wishes or thoughts about the place you visited will be a more special gift.
5. Use all of your senses
Another great idea is to use all of your senses and take photos to remember them. Here’s a challenge: See most beautiful view; Taste the most delicious local meal you can find (to remind you the taste); be silent somewhere and just let your ear work – hear the birds, the church bells, the waves; Smell the flowers, spices; Touch the sand (to remind you the feeling). Sounds exciting, don’t you think?
6. Learn some local words
Please don’t go in linguistically blind. Good solo travelers—and travelers in general—should at least get familiar with the conversational basics of your destinations’ official language; the everyday essential phrases. Even if you botch the pronunciation, your willingness to make the effort will be appreciated by the locals. Also, many times it’s mostly funny to learn new words, as everyone is laughing when you’re trying to speak their language.
Did you know that in Morocco they have two official languages – Modern Standard Arabic and Amazigh (Berber)? And there is also the Moroccan Arabic (known as Darija), so it can be confusing, but it’s so fascinating to learn more about the places you visit!
7. Do the things that locals do
Visit local markets and shops, try and maybe buy clothes or accessories that the natives wear. That can be a nice way to immerse yourself in their world and way of living, and also a good memory of the destination. Eat with your hands when locals do, dance their traditional dances, drink welcome tea, say hello in a local way. All of this will make you closer to the place you visit and will leave a special mark in your memory.
8. Rent a bicycle
Nothing can compare to the freedom and pleasure of exploring a new city (or area) on a bike. You have optimal mobility and flexibility. The bike gives you the opportunity to be independent and get into remote areas (compared to traveling by foot). It’s another great way to get to know a place better (and faster), its people and culture by going beyond the most touristic spots.
9. Do your research
Before heading anywhere, look for festivals, cultural events, concerts and other interesting activities you can do once you get there. There are so many festivals and carnavals happening all the time – those in Venice and Rio are not the only ones. The Carnaval de Cadiz (a city in the south of Andalusia) for example, hosts the world’s third largest carnaval party. So don’t wait for another reason, check the event calendar and go.
10. Be spontaneous
Don’t plan too much. If you have the time, spend an entire day without plans, just go outside, put the maps and the mobile apps away and see what will happen. Not knowing where you will end up is one of the most exciting things about travelling
11. Try out typical activities
Another way to immerse in the local culture is to attend typical activities.
If you are in Italy – visit an opera, if in Thailand – go see a muay-thai fight, if in Sevilla – enjoy a flamenco show. If you’re heading to some exotic beach destination, hit the waves on a surf. You got the point, right?
12. Choose a different path
Don’t limit yourself on visiting only the hot touristic spots, find your own! This way you won’t miss the most exciting part of your trip – the adventure! Why not organize a particular and different excursion, something unusual that is only known by locals? Ask around the market sellers, tha bartender or your local friends, and seize the moment.
Sometimes it’s really tempting to stay in your comfort zone even when visiting an unknown place. But having an authentic experience creates the most lasting and beautiful memories when travelling! Such as the ones we create on Instagram!