This blog post was updated on January 25, 2022.
There’s really nothing quite like traveling. You get to explore the world, experience new things, and expand your horizons. It’s all good — unless, of course, you fall into a tourist trap. Nobody wants to be labeled a tourist. We all like to think that we blend in seamlessly with our surroundings, that we’re savvy enough to avoid being tricked. Unfortunately, some people make a living taking advantage of even the most experienced travelers. Luckily, you don’t have to resign yourself to being duped. Here are some simple and effective ways to avoid falling into a tourist trap the next time you travel to parts unknown.
Avoid Tourist Style
Most of us can spot a tourist right off the bat. They just tend to look out of place as they explore their new surroundings. If you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb (and invite a lot of unwanted attention), do some homework before you take cheap flights abroad. If it’s a new country or locale that you’ve never visited, study up on what people wear. Opt for comfortable but on-trend outfits that will let you blend in. You want to be able to explore without worrying about anyone planning to take advantage of an unwitting tourist.
Public transportation can be a great way to avoid tourist traps while traveling. Many must-visit locales have incredible public transit. So why blow all your money on cabs and rental cars? Instead, investigate your options and try taking the subway or train. When in doubt, walk when you can. It gives you tons of local color, and you never know what cool places you might stumble upon.
When you start to feel hungry, don’t default to what the guidebook suggests. Oftentimes, restaurants that are well-known end up being overpriced, underwhelming affairs. Instead of blowing your budget on an unsatisfying meal, do a little research before you dine out. See where the locals go when they get peckish. More often than not, you’ll find some hidden gems that are a fraction of the cost of those star-studded affairs.
Grab Some Coffee
And no, we don’t mean Starbucks. Seek out small local coffee shops and cafes in the area to see what’s really going on in your neighborhood. Settle in with a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy people-watching to get a real feel for the area. Many times there will be notice boards advertising fun local events; be sure to check those out. You might stumble upon a hidden gem that will make your trip unforgettable.
Aim for Off-Season
Sure it’s fun to hit up the hottest travel spots — but not during peak season. At best you’ll end up surrounded by other sight-seers, falling prey to bogus deals and a whole host of headaches. Instead, opt for off-season trips if you can swing it. It will be a quieter, more peaceful trip overall. Free from the hustle and bustle of fellow tourists, you’ll be able to explore at your own pace. Best of all, you’ll be privy to tons of deals and savings usually reserved for locals only.
Design Your Own Tour
While lots of tours promise incredible times, they can often be less than enthralling — and expensive to boot. Do some research before your trip and create your own tour of the area. That way you’ll be in control of everything: where you go, how long you stay, and how much you spend. You won’t have to drop a lot of dough on an overpriced tour guide.
Most museums and art galleries provide information packets for a nominal fee (or you can look up facts on your phone). It’s a fun, immersive way to see the most interesting parts of the city and ensure that you don’t miss a single thing. There are plenty of sites that help you create your own tour, so do some exploring and see which one is right for you.
No matter how hard you try, there are some tourist spots you’ll be tempted to visit. Unfortunately, so will everybody else. If you decide you absolutely must see the Mona Lisa or the Empire State Building, go for it — but be prepared to wait. Look for times that are less popular, or check out the crowd and see how long the wait really is. Be patient and bring some activities to keep you busy while waiting. In some places, the wait is inevitable — but we promise that your patience will be well rewarded.
Do you have any more travel tips and tricks to share? Tell us in the comments below!