Whether it’s your 1st or 100th time overseas, we all feel like newbie travellers when we visit a new country. The point of exploring a new destination is to immerse yourself in a culture or landscape that’s different to what you’re accustomed to. At Park on King, we say that’s the spirit of travel. How then, do we get better at being first-time visitors? The answer may seem antithetical – but the old tenet is true. Practice makes perfect. If you’re not a seasoned traveller yet but want to visit somewhere new without looking like a stereotypical tourist, here are some tips.
1. Go easy on the big attractions
If you want to blend in, reconsider visiting the high-volume tourist attractions, especially in peak season. Don’t plan your trip around the most popular thing a country has to offer – instead, pick a neighbourhood you want to explore and go from there. However, if you’re determined to see a popular sight, make sure to leave the guided tour group at home.
2. Spend a while getting to know one place
It’s impossible to get a feel for the rhythm of an area if you only spend 2 or 3 nights there. When visiting a city that you really want to explore, get an AirBnB and spend a week or so wandering and visiting whatever shops, sights, or restaurants catch your eye. You’ll get a feel for the area and its vibe, plus you might even make local friends to hang out with for the duration of your visit.
3. Act like a local
In a lot of countries, ex-pats or tourists can get away with not strictly adhering to cultural or religious customs. Middle Eastern countries with a large international population like the United Arab Emirates are quite lenient toward foreigners. However, it’s worth researching a country’s customs in order to be respectful toward, and blend in with, its citizens. You don’t want to attract unwanted attention, and dressing like a local will afford you fewer stares, and maybe lower prices.
Before you go stumbling around the Colosseum with your Lonely Planet, try and brush up on a few key phrases on the plane or before you travel. Basic greetings and a – ‘do you speak English’? – can go a long way toward getting respect from locals.
5. Befriend locals
Getting a local’s perspective on the city you’re visiting can be an invaluable source of information. A language barrier may make things more difficult, but be open to chatting with people you may meet – AirBnB hosts that’ll be there while you stay, taxi drivers or people offering ride services, vendors, and shopkeepers. If you get the chance to dine with a local, always say yes! It can be a great cultural experience that you won’t forget.
For your next holiday, why not focus on experiencing the country like a real traveller? Before you book your flight, remember to check out Sydney’s best airport parking. After a stint of travelling, it can be great to come back to a familiar car and a friendly face. We’ve got your back.