Authentic travel and experiences abroad consist of the real thing. You get to live like a local for a few days, or a few weeks, along with everything that goes with that. It’s an incredible thing to do. While the tourist hotspots draw in crowds in their millions, there is a lot to be said for doing like the locals do.
So, how can you find an authentic, rather than a touristic, experience abroad?
Take it easy
Part of taking the headache out of travel comes from taking it a little easier. If you want to see certain sites, great! But don’t see yourself difficult to achieve or unrealistic goals. At best, you’ll arrive in time frazzled, sweaty and stressed. At worst, you won’t make it and will feel disappointed with yourself. If it’s an authentic travel experience you’re after, not a touristic one, you’ve got to take it easy! After all, you don’t see Venetians dashing around town, trying to fit in a gondola ride and St. Mark’s Basilica into one morning, do you? It’s totally fine to have things you want to do while you’re in a city or town. Just make sure this is adequately balanced with more relaxed activities.
Live like a local
If it is authenticity that you’re after, you’ve got to think about your accommodation. Hotels are all well and good, but unless you’re a celebrity or a member of a royal family, they’re not a home. Paris holiday apartments can never disappoint you, and in fact neither can any holiday apartments. This is because this is closest you can get to living in a real home in that country. They allow for a number of other benefits too. One of the premium ones is the access having a kitchen gives you to authentic, local food. Having your own kitchen means that you can go shopping for the local delicacies, and at the local markets. Back at your apartment, you can cook up a local dish.
On the topic of food, whether it’s stuff you’re cooking at home or items you be in a restaurant, be adventurous. A McDonald’s might be safe and familiar, but there is no authenticity there. Be bold with your choices and try new things. If you’re not sure what to get, ask the waiter or a member of staff. They will be familiar with the foods that are most popular. Ask questions like ‘what is the most popular dish on your menu?’. Or, ‘at home, I like to eat this. Do you have anything with a (insert country name) twist here?’
Learn some basics
So, we’ve covered what you should (or shouldn’t do with your time), your accommodation and your meal choices. Lastly, a note on language. You don’t need to do a 6-week course in Spanish to know the basic phrases. Just attempting to speak the local language will get you respect, as they will appreciate your attempt. Find out how to say the basics, like ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and also things like ‘where is’. A language translation app on your phone will come in useful. After all, you’ll have your phone with you pretty much everywhere you go. Speak slowly and carefully and the local is sure to grasp whatever it is that you are asking!
Good luck, and enjoy your authentic experience abroad! You’re gonna love it!