One of the things I stress to anyone I talk to about travel – client, potential client, friend or family – is how important it is to blend in with the locals when you travel.
Travel should not be about standing out in a new city, town, state, country or continent. It should be about immersing yourself within that destination. Leaving behind any preconceived notions and prejudices and just being there with your whole heart and soul. Standing, walking, dancing, eating – all side by side with the people who call the destination you are in, home.
You may be thinking “I love this way of approaching travel Thia – but how does one blend in with the locals? What do you suggest?” Well, my friends – you’re in luck, as I have plenty of thoughts on how to do this. And you can check them all out below, where I have listed for you just a few of the many ways that blending in with the locals can be accomplished. Let’s take a look.
Learn The Language
You’re going to a foreign country that you have never visited before. They do not speak English – or whatever your native tongue happens to be. If you want to blend in with the locals, you don’t have to do anything drastic like feign an accent – but you should take the time to learn their language. And no – I don’t mean a full on three- or four-week Rosetta Stone course. Just the basics will do. Hello. Good-bye. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. Start with common pleasantries and manners. You will want to add more of course – based on what you are going to be doing while you are there. For instance – if you will be taking public transportation you may want to learn how to say different phrases than you would if you were renting a car and driving on your own the whole time. Or if you are planning on taking a class or learning a new skill while there, as opposed to just say – touring museums and monuments – there will be different words and questions you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. Do them that courtesy and they will be more likely to embrace you and receive you warmly.
Know The Customs and Etiquettes
One thing you want to avoid at all costs while visiting a new destination is insulting the locals. And one sure fire way to do that is to disrespect their customs and / or rules of etiquette. Therefore – be sure and read up on such things prior to travel so that you have a good grasp of what goes and what are no-noes. For instance – in some cultures it may be disrespectful to tip – no matter how great the service is or how much you feel that it is not right to not leave a gratuity. This is something you are definitely going to want to know beforehand to avoid insulting your waiter, taxi driver, bellman, etc. Each foreign land we visit will undoubtedly have a set of written rules – regarding customs – and unwritten rules when it comes to etiquette. Take the time to learn what they are prior to traveling.
Follow Suit When It Comes To Clothing
Now don’t take that literally – I am not advising you to wear a suit – I am advising you to dress like the locals. Do the research. Check out the current styles. For instance – find out if most restaurants are laid back and casual dress is no problem or if you need to pack something more formal when dining out. Is it a country known for its modest approach to dress? If so – then tone down your wardrobe. One sure fire way to stick out like a sore thumb when you are in a foreign land is how you do – or don’t – dress. And if there is a customary piece of clothing that one or both genders wear that you do not have access to at home – take extra money and purchase it while there. Trust me – it could make a big difference in how you will be received.
Don’t Be The Tacky Tourist
We all know who I am talking about. They have a camera and a video recorder hanging around their neck, a backpack with maps sticking out of it and a book of foreign languages in hand. Yes – I said you need to learn the basics of the native tongue – but you don’t have to waive the book around while you are out in public as if to loudly proclaim “I didn’t do my homework.” And – electronics have come a long way – you can downsize to an all-in-one camera / video apparatus that is not the size of a professional photographers – i.e. – that’s more discreet. Or – just use your phone. Most of them these days have cameras and video recording features with high enough quality to capture your memories just fine. And yes – a backpack is a great place to stash the maps and the language guide – but they can be neatly stowed inside. No need to broadcast them.
Change Your Currency
Again – you are in their country. Do not expect them to take your currency or worse don’t put up a fuss if they don’t. There’s a reason why there are currency exchange booths before you even leave the airport (although I don’t recommend doing it there – but that is another blog). And that brings up another point – carry cash. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts – take what you need for the day and leave the rest in the safe at the hotel. But don’t depend on your credit card – especially in more remote destinations. And for heaven’s sake – once again – do not act like it’s the end of the world if they don’t take credit cards.
Eat What They Eat
Skip the chains and head for the locally owned restaurants and diners. Better yet – check out the food truck scene if they have one because it’s hard to get any more authentic than food truck fare! And so you are not totally surprised when you look at your first menu – do some leg work and check out what the most popular dishes are. That way if you are presented with something you cannot fathom eating – instead of making gagging noises or otherwise voicing your disdain – and thus insulting your server and the locals dining around your – you can quietly opt out of ordering it.
You see my friends – it’s not hard to blend in with the locals. Perhaps you have already been taking a few – or all – of these simple steps to prepare for your journey into unknown territories. And remember, when you book with Thia I will make sure to assist you in finding out all you need to know prior to travel so that you can blend in with the locals beautifully and get the full cultural immersion you desire. Have a place in mind? Contact me today and let’s start curating an amazing adventure for you!
Yours in travel,