Traveling is an expensive hobby in many ways—each trip takes a lot of money, effort, time, and emotional energy out of you. As the AFAR community knows, it’s a worthy investment. But there are many ways to get more out of your trips (or, as we say, #traveldeeper) if you tweak your itinerary slightly. Here are six ideas for how to take huge advantage of your travels.
1. Go Under-the-Radar
There’s something to be said about touristy spots: They’re usually important, and a major part of a city’s identity. But going off the beaten path will reveal a place’s nuances and quirks, and you’re more likely to meet locals at a hidden tapas bar than at a major attraction. Try these spots in Europe for unique under-the-radar experiences. Or, skip the city altogether and make your destination a rural one.
2. Rethink Your Transportation
Buses and planes are inexpensive and direct—but, sometimes, half the fun of traveling to a new place is getting there. Rent a car and make stops along the way, or do it the old fashioned way: Take a train.
3. Hit the Local Markets
Equipped with an open mind—and, maybe, an open wallet—head to the city or town’s markets for a glimpse of the shopping culture. From Florence’s San Lorenzo leather market to São Paulo’s open-air fleas, it’s a great way to pick up unique souvenirs and people watch.
4. Eat the Street
Street food is cheap, easy to find, and a good entry into a culture’s food. Some of our favorites? Fried corn cakes with cheese in Ecuador, banh mi in Ho Chi Minh City, and rice-stuffed mussels in Istanbul. Here’s a guide to some of the best in the world.
5. Don’t Rule Out Day Trips
Yes, it’s okay to go outside the city limits of your destination. Whether you go by bus, car, train, or—if you’re feeling really adventurous—plane, venturing farther into the countryside or to another city can be a welcome excursion, especially if you’re on a long vacation. You can do it pretty much anywhere: Seattle, Cancun, Vegas, Stockholm, Seoul. You can even take a day trip from London to Paris. Think about that.
6. Get Creative with Your Accommodations
Get out of your comfort zone when it comes to the place you sleep. Stay at a hotel perched at the top of a waterfall. Stay in a tent hotel or a tree house. Or maybe a cave or overwater bungalow is more your speed. Either way, it’s more fun to make your unique accommodations another memorable facet of your trip.
Photo by Julee K.