There’s nothing wrong with tourist traps. What’s the first thing people think of when they consider a trip to Paris? The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. New York City? The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway. San Francisco? The Golden State Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. There’s nothing wrong with hitting up any of these places. They’re iconic. Often, there’s a reason that sites are as popular as they are – because they’re beyond amazing.
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But, so often, these tourist traps are jammed with other tourists, tons of cheap souvenir shops, and at times even pickpockets. The time that it takes to get to your destination, find parking (if not taking public transportation), fight the crowds, and keep your wits about you can sometimes cancel out the exhilaration and joy of travel, and tourist traps are rife with it all.
So, for your next excursion, think about trying out some of the lesser-known jewels with a few of tips.
1. Think like a local when planning your itinerary:
You already know where the famous spots may be, so cast a wider net. Find a hotel just outside the touristy areas (that way you’ll be centrally located to reach the more famous destinations but still able to try out new areas). Build in time to wander in your less-crowded spot. This is one of the best ways to find a fun cafe or unexpected store.
2. Go with the familiar:
It may sound contradictory, but by knowing your favorite things to do it helps you search out experiences that you already love but in a new way. Think about what you enjoy best about your own area. Is it the eateries? The arts scene? Great nightlife? The athletic events? For example, if you love seeing plays, you’ll always remember the show you saw at a big city’s world-renowned theater or a performance lovingly produced by a sweet little community theater. Plus, the playbill makes a great souvenir.
3. Pick one uncomfortable new activity:
Just as going with a familiar activity gives you a new perspective on an old favorite, picking a new activity gives a very different perspective on your travel experience. Even if it’s eating dinner at a different time while traveling in Europe, you’re stepping out of your comfort zone in order to see the world in someone else’s shoes. You may surprise yourself by deciding to make a few changes in your usual day-to-day routine after trying it out!
4. Use technology as your guide:
Check out online message boards and search lists of ALL the things an area has to offer. Trip Advisor is a great site to get the real low-down on a place from travelers and locals alike, as is an app such as “Like a Local City Guide”. Airbnb will help you find a local spot to stay, along with a local’s suggestion for favorite hangouts. And always stay safe off the beaten path with your phone’s interactive map.
And, if all else fails and you’re just too excited to avoid the traps, go full steam ahead with no apologies. There’s nothing like a good, high-energy romp a la “On the Town” through a famous crowded street!
|MEGAN MCCOY DELLECESE: Megan,writes about her life as a mom and her family’s attempts at living a realistically green life at her blog Meg Acts Out. She has a soft spot for DIY blogs, Katharine Hepburn movies, the Monkees, and community theatre. Megan lives in upstate New York with her husband, two quirky kiddos, and three rescued cats.