It probably sounds a little dumb, but when I travel, regardless if it’s just to another city in Iowa or if it’s halfway around the world I don’t want to scream “tourist”. I like blending in as much as possible.
And most of the time, depending on where in the world I am, I can pass off as a local. Well, until I start talking that is.
When I went to Rome a few years ago, I was a bit uneasy as I was traveling abroad solo for the first time, and I had heart a few horror stories (or myths) about people mugging tourists.
So, I didn’t want to walk around looking like a helpless foreigner.
This meant, not having my camera out and around my neck, but at certain times this meant I taking photos on my phone because this was an easier way to snap a few pictures without digging into my bag for my big camera.
This also means not grabbing a big old paper map of whatever city I’m visiting. Google maps has come a long way over the years, and I always use that to get around.
I always wear the same exact clothes that I would normally wear at home. And you might think, well why wouldn’t you? But there are plenty of people who go out and buy “vacation” clothes. You know the dads that wear the Hawaiian floral shirts, the people who look like they’re going on a hike, but they're in a city, and the mom’s who wear the big, floppy sun hats.
Now, I have nothing against any of this. If you want to wear it, wear it, own it. I’m just saying that I like blending in, and there are certain things that scream, “I’m on vacation.”
This is probably the introvert in me but beyond sticking out like a sore thumb, I prefer to make myself at home wherever it is that I’m visiting. This means foregoing a lot of the touristy spots, and finding a few local haunts to hang out at. I like to get a taste of what it is about that place that people who live there enjoy.
I do like to pick a few of the must-see’s. Whether that’s a walk past the Eiffel Tower, down along the River Thames, or through the ruins of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. But there are certain areas I choose to avoid, and that’s usually the party scene.
And another added perk of avoiding the busier travel spots, besides the possibility of getting robbed is that there are certain countries or cities where tourists are more likely to get stopped by police, things usually cost more in the touristy areas, and there’s just a lot more people out and about.
You see, I’m at the point with traveling where I want to get into a routine where I am, and somewhat pretend I live there. Whether I’m there for a week or for a month, I want to find my spots to work, to eat, and to hang out.
In the end it’s all personal preference. There is no wrong way to travel. While you may enjoy filling your days with every great sight there is to see, I enjoy hunkering down for a few hours of work over a delicious cup of coffee before setting off to get out for a bit of adventure.