You know how when you’re expecting your first child, anyone and everyone is all too eager to give you their two cents about what you should or shouldn’t do? Well the same can be said for first-time travelers. As soon as you tell people that you’re planning your first trip abroad, all they want to do is give you advice – regardless of whether they have ever actually traveled themselves.
While we all know that their hearts are in the right place (most of the time), we’re going to tell you to ignore everything you hear. Instead, consider doing the opposite of what everyone else tells you to do:
Talk to strangers – If you’re consulting your travel guidebook the entire time you’re abroad, you’re only going to see what most every other tourist sees – and that would be a shame. Don’t be afraid to chat it up with the locals; ask them where they usually go for a great meal, or where some off-the-beaten-path bars may be. Often times, you’ll find that locals are all too eager to point you in the right direction, and you may even gain yourself a new friend.
Bring your phone everywhere – A lot of people will tell you to leave your phone back at the hotel because honestly, you’re abroad and international fees can be pricey – are you really going to be texting up a storm? Well no, but you never know when you’ll stumble upon a random WIFI hotspot. Your family back home is probably dying to hear from you, and situations like this could allow you to give them a quick ring on Skype to check in and show them the awesome view.
Use local transportation only – Sure, taking a taxi is quick and convenient, but you’ll be missing out on some great sightseeing and will spend more money than really necessary. So many cities offer rentals for bicycles, mopeds, row boats and even Segways, so take advantage!
Be selfish – If you’re really not into visiting museums and monuments, don’t go! This is your vacation and you should spend it how you want to spend it. If you’re traveling with a big group of friends or family members and most everyone else wants to go, don’t force yourself to join just because you’re outnumbered. Encourage them to go on without you and spend your day lounging on the beach and eating gelato.
Forget the store-bought souvenirs – No one really needs a t-shirt, keychain or shot glass from your travels. Spend the money on experiences while you’re still there and collect things like local recipes and pub coasters instead. It’s better to bring back a real piece of your travels rather than something generic that anyone else could order offline.
Enjoy the vacation that you planned, not what everyone else plans for you! For more less-than-conventional tips for doing this, visit HuffingtonPost.com and let us know if you have something else you could add to the list!