We may be basking in the July sunshine, but in reality, Old Man Winter will return in as little as four months. Now is the time to begin planning your winter escape abroad and maybe considering a new approach to travel.
We can’t deny the comforts of a luxury hotel or the importance of seeing landmarks generally found on travel destination websites. But think about getting off the beaten path and mingling with locals. Food markets are often the best introduction to a culture, where you can learn about both the food and the people. You may find handicrafts and gifts at lower prices than at tourist shops. Plus, locals can provide greater insight into any locale.
Words of wisdom when traveling off the beaten path:
- Dress simply and leave your jewelry behind. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Learn a few words of the local language, such as “please” and “thank you.” Language phone apps may be helpful. Smile.
- Exchange some U.S. dollars for local currency. Know the exchange rate.
- Study local customs, such as whether bargaining is considered acceptable.
- If you take a local taxi, negotiate fares prior to the drive.
- Bring anti-bacterial wipes for cleaning hands before eating.
- If you try street food, see food being cooked to be certain it’s very hot. Vegetarian dishes are generally safer than those containing meat or seafood. If you have a weak stomach, limit dining to hotel restaurants.
- Bring bottled water or buy something familiar like soda or beer. In tropical places, try healthful coconut water sipped from a freshly cracked coconut.