Travel, as opposed to tourism, is about how to get off the beaten path and integrate with the locals. When you “integrate,” you discover the color, flavors, and texture of the country in which you visit. From these experiences, you can develop rich adventures that stand out in your mind. After all, it’s the experiences we remember, not the color of the hotel room where we stayed. Here’s how to get off the beaten path so that you have experiences, not just memories, to enrich your travels.
The way to integrate is to get out of the tour bus, off the cruise ship, or away from the Marriott and put on your walking shoes. It’s through the platform of walking you’ll uncover the beaten path.
A List of the Off-beaten Path
Here’s things to look for to find the off-beaten path.
Look for food carts on the street. Taste the flavors offered. If your language skills are good, ask your chef about her family or where she likes to eat. Engage in a conversation about music or dance.
Sit in the local coffee shop and strike up a conversation with the coffee maker. Ask him where the coffee came from and find out if you can go see the farmer who raised the coffee.
Join in on a pick-up soccer or basketball game. Make friends with the players or their parents. See if you can get an invite to dinner.
Check out the major intersections where mass transit goes. Ride the bus to that destination, get off the bus, and then get lost. Make a friend by saying hello or waving, and see if your new friend can help you get un-lost.
Go to the local church. Read any posters or flyers about goings-on, and attend the local concert, reading, or performance.
Find the walking group by googling “walking group” or “free walking tours.” Make friends with the leader who will know about what’s happening in town.
Buy some produce at the local grocery or market. Ask the grocer how to use one of the vegetables you buy or find out where a cafe might cook a good version.
It’s an Attitude, Not a Destination
Many folks blog and write about getting off the beaten path. You might enjoy a few of these book recommendations. But remember, getting off the beaten path isn’t so much about a destination, it’s about an attitude of adventure.
Those were just a few of the ways for how to get off the beaten path and into the community. Have you done any of these? Do you have other suggestions? Post below how to get off the beaten path from your adventures.