So you pick a destination, get a plane ticket, find a hotel for at least the first night, and maybe even sign up for a tour group before you even leave your home. You’re on your way to travel and have the experience of a lifetime. However, what if you want something more? What if you don’t want to go to the same places where everyone else goes to? What if you want something more authentic?
As I have lived and travelled in a couple of different countries, I have found out that there is a significant difference between the tourist experience and the authentic experience. So for the adventureous traveller who wants to see a different version of a country than the spots designed for tourists here are some tips to make your travels more exciting and safe while keeping the costs down.
Let’s face it, hotels are expensive. Think of all the extra activites you could participate in if you didn’t have to pay for a hotel. Depending on what country you’re in and how nice the hotel is you are going to be paying $40-$150 each night. Think about how much more you could see or the extra days you could spend in the exploring and having fun if you didn’t have these costs.
One alternative would be to use a hostel. The average cost of a hostel in most countries throughout the world is $10-$35. Now some of you may be wondering what a hostel is and how secure it is. There are usually two options–shared or private room. If you have a friend going along then you could do a shared room. Even if you are by yourself you could do a shared room. They usually give you a security box, so you can keep valuables inside. This is a safe and inexpensive way to travel. You won’t find swimming pools, spas or game rooms, but hey are you here to see the sites or to pay more to do the same things you do at home.
Obviously while travelling around, you’re going to have to eat. There are a lot of options for eating. Now if you want to eat a couple of meals at a really nice restaurant–no problem. Walk around and talk to the locals and see what they suggest. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t eat at an expensive restaurant every night or else all your money is going to go to food. You could look for something familiar–McDonalds is almost everywhere…or you could be a little adventurous and try out some authentic food. Not the recipes they Americanize, but the same food the locals eat. Yes, I’m talking about street food and those hole-in-wall restaurants. Some of you may be panicking thinking about all the diseases you could pick up. Here are some pointers to some great food that is cheap but won’t make you sick.
First of all just observe. If a little restaurant or street food plaza has a lot of people eating there chances are the food is safe because if people were getting sick, they would stop eating there and business would be slow. Also, if you can find someone who speaks the same language as you ask them about the food at these places. Ask the vendors if there water is bottled or where they keep their meat when they are not using it. If they don’t want to tell you about it, don’t eat there, they are probably hiding something. However, if they are happy to tell you about their food then it is probably safe. Meanwhile you get the homemade authentic food, which is always better than big restaurant food, at a cheap price.
3. Not Your Average Tourist Spots
If you go to another country, you are probably going to want to hit a few of their major tourist attractions. For example, if you go to Paris you will want to see the Eiffel Tower or if you go to China you will want to go hike The Great Wall for a day. However, there are a lot of awesome places to go that you won’t find on your average tour group. Find some of those or go on a tour that is for people from the country. There is a good chance that they will be showing you different spots than where they take foreigners. These tour groups are often cheaper as well.For example, even though, The Great Wall is a tourist spot, they have less touristy spots. Some parts of the wall have been changed to be more impressive to tourists; however, if you are interested in original then do some research and go to the section of the wall that is more authentic. If you do go to some of the nontourist areas, find a local to go with you.
Sometimes people at the entrances will try charging foreigners more because they can. If you take someone who lives there and speaks the language with you, they can make sure you don’t get ripped off. Also, while you are walking around, people will try to sell you stuff. Many countries will use a system of bartering. They intentionally start at a high price so that you will barter back and forth until you can settle on a price that you both like. A local person will know approximately the value of the item you want so that you don’t end up paying 10 times its value. Having someone with you who knows the area will also elliminate a lot of stresss and make your trip more enjoyable.
So if your ready for an adventure and authentic travel experience, put a few of these tips into practice. You’ll have great stories to tell and amazing pictures to show. You’ll have better views, see awesome sites, and save more money.