While it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like travel, one thing most travellers will agree on is their often-undisguised distaste for tourists. Of course, this is completely hypocritical, as by nature most of us as travellers are exactly that, however, it’s more the stereotype of a tourist with which we generally have an issue.
No one wants to be lumped in with the idea of an uncultured mob, arriving at all the standard sites and blindly pointing their cameras at anything and everything. Of course these types of travellers don’t exactly have the locals running out to greet them with open arms.
So, how can you avoid being this type of stereotypical tourist? We’ve got six ways to avoid the crowds and looking like a tourist on your next trip.
Do your research beforehand
If you’re spending the money to go somewhere you may as well make the most of it by reading up on your destination before you get there. This also allows you to think about what you’d like to see so you can…
… Have a plan of attack
Fail to plan, plan to fail as the saying goes. Exploring neighbourhoods by foot and making interesting discoveries is one thing, wandering around aimlessly for hours on end is another altogether. In my experience it always helps to think about the areas you’d like to explore, what you’d like to see, if there’s anywhere in particular you’d like to eat, and try to develop a rough plan from this. You can always throw it out the window if it doesn’t work.
The early bird gets the best photos
One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to get out of bed relatively early and go for long walks. I’ll usually pick a park or area I’m interested in and set out to explore before the rest of the city wakes up. Not only a great way to get some exercise, most tourists don’t do this, leaving the streets relatively deserted. This is also a great way to get good photos of statues or other sights that don’t have opening and closing times. No crowds with competing cameras and the added bonus of better lighting.
Don’t take photos using your iPad
This should be a condition of gaining entry to every country, just promise you won’t use your iPad as a camera. Nothing screams tourist like someone holding up their iPad to snap a statue. Not only do you look incredibly silly but you’ll also irk the people behind you also trying to take photos (with their cameras or phones).
Ditto selfie sticks
Slightly amusing at first, selfie sticks have gone too far and need to be stopped. In fact, if you see someone using one, I’d say it’s fair game to go and photobomb them.
Get away from the guide book
While there’s no argument guide books are a wonderful way to learn about a new city and what you want to do there, you’re not alone in this thinking. Imagine how many other travellers are reading the same Lonely Planet guide as you? The best way to avoid ending up at the same restaurants, bars and sights as everyone else is to look for less mainstream information. Blogs are great for off-the-beaten-track suggestions and nothing beats recommendations from (trusted) sources who’ve been there before!
If you’ve got the time a final, sure-fire way to avoid falling into the tourist trap is to get out of town altogether and do a day trip beyond the centre of the city. This is often where you’ll get the most accurate glimpse into how the locals really live.
How do you like to explore a new city? Share your tips in the comments below.