A Few Tips on Getting the Most out of Your Travel
You miss a lot while traveling on wheels – street vendors, hole-in-the-walls, questionable-yet-curious alleys, etc. Just be aware of your belongings in crowded areas and wear culturally appropriate clothing. Put on thick skin for stares and heckling if are traveling in a region where the locals are not used to seeing people like you.
Ride public transportation
Although this will require more time, you will get more chance to mingle and talk with locals. In developing countries expect a lot of waiting time as many buses may run on a “leave when filled to capacity” policy instead of a schedule. Sometimes there may be unexpected detours. In those situations plan on traveling early to give yourself more room for impromptu adventures. Public transportation in Europe is cheap, easy and pleasant and you avoid the hassle and stress of driving in a new country.
Forget the guides, ask a local where the best eats are.
I always ask “Where do you go to eat?” instead of “What’s a good place to eat?” Because if you use the latter, people will sometimes point you to where they think the tourists wants to go. There are also street vendors and nameless hole-in-the-walls that guidebooks miss.
When asking for directions, ask at least two different persons.
In certain countries, it is impolite to say “I don’t know”. So the direction you get will be their best guess. Sometimes there are language barriers and the person may not have understood exactly what you were saying and might have just been nodding yes to your question. Also be aware of gender issues in certain countries. To be safe, ask people in the same gender as you for directions.