There are two options when traveling:

1) Go to all of the tourist places, and

2) Live like the locals.

Each has its own pros and cons but the local lifestyle may give you that vacation you have always desired. Let’s break it down to see what each option has to offer.

1. The tourist.

  • You have to see every monument, museum, and park. If it’s marked on a map, you will be there. You are also first in line to get a ticket for the double-decker sightseeing bus.
  • Your schedule is jam packed from sunrise to sunset. You have left yourself just enough time to have dinner at one of the tourist traps on the main drag.
  • You are just seeing the sights but not fully taking it in. You are secretly thinking to yourself, “If I see another museum…” or, “I have to be enjoying this right; it is the Mona Lisa.”

2. Travel like the locals live.

  • Wake up and start your morning off with an espresso at the local café on the side street. Sit back, relax, and enjoy people watching. Take in all of the sights and see what everyone is doing. You never know, you may end up with the best tips on places to go visit and restaurants to eat at.
  • Find an interesting place to visit – a museum, a nearby town – or ask a local to recommend a place that you will enjoy. The key here is a place not an infinitely long list of places that you must check off your list and just see. Find places that you will truly enjoy. Do you love gardens? Try spending the afternoon at your destination’s botanical gardens.
  • Explore. Go outside and get lost in the city. Take your map and put it in your bag. Find an area to visit and see what you happen to stumble upon. It may be the most beautiful thing that you have ever seen in your life. Maybe that trail leads to an overlook of the ocean that no one has ever captured photographs of before.
  • Leave your watch and schedule behind. This is vacation, right? Do what interests you and what attracts your attention.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. I guarantee that it will be worth it. Go to the restaurant that looks like a dive – the food may be worth a Michelin star! Climb to the top of the cliff even if you are somewhat scared of heights. Find the diamond in the rough and you will be ecstatic that you did. It will make your trip memorable and will be the event or thing you talk about to everyone that you see.

Traveling like you are a local in town is my favorite way to travel. You get to enjoy the best parts of the city that you actually want to see. You can explore and find the hidden gems that other tourists never even know of, and my bet is that some of the locals may not know about either. Enjoy that two-hour dinner out on the patio with a bottle of wine and great company without looking at your smartphone or your watch.

The key here is to fully enjoy your vacation doing the things that you want to do and not have to do. You will remember saying, “I loved watching that sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.” But if you are rushing around traveling like a tourist, you will be left saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

So, how are you going to travel on your next vacation?

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Featured photo credit: Travel Manitobavia Flickr

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