In my opinion there are three categories of people that travel:

1. The Tourists

2. The Travelers

3. The Good Travelers

I think the difference between a tourist and a traveler is obvious. The tourist is the one that comes to see something, snaps a few pictures and returns to his hotel or resort to lay by the pool and drink the all inclusive cocktails.

Now what is the difference between a traveler and a good traveler? Let’s find out:

1. Plan good, listen better:

I usually don’t plan too much when going to a destination. I read a few travel blogs, maybe I buy a last minute guide at the airport. Other than that I just go with the flow. What I do when I arrive at a destination? I go to a bar!

I talk to others that sit at the bar or start a conversation with the bartender if his time permits. They usually know everything. They know what I should see, they know who I should talk and they know what I should drink!

It’s like going to a restaurant and not knowing what to eat. Ask the waiter, he’ll tell you what’s best on the menu and you’ll leave the place happily!

What I also do? I start conversations with cab drivers. Cab drivers are the voice of the people. If you want to know what a country thinks about a newly introduced law, ask the cab drivers. If you want to know a great place to visit in the city or region, ask the cab driver. He’ll know and if he likes you he will even tell you ;)

Good Traveler

Enjoying Loch Lomond after a local in Glasgow gave us a tip that you can rent bikes at the lake!

2. Ask friends and friends of friends

You could consider me as a friend. I always consult other travel bloggers about a destination I’m going. Ask friends if they have friends at the destination you are visiting. First of all you can say hello on behalf of your friend and their friends will take good care of you and take the time to show you the place. In Istanbul I saw places that no tourist or traveler would see or smell.

Good Traveler - Friends of Friends

Enjoying the view over Edinburgh from Arthurs Seat with friends of friends!

3. Be an awesome traveler and take care of those that really help you.

Do you know what I mean? When you check out of your hotel you’ll probably leave a tip right? (I dare you to leave a tip!) This tip is often just shared among the receptionists, the guys that you see when you enter the hotel for the first time and when you leave the last time. What about the others? The unknown? The people that you don’t see but are there to make your stay as comfortable as possible?

Come on, leave a few bills for the people that make sure you sleep in a freshly made and comfy bed. They are the most under-appreciated people and probably some of the most important.

4. Talk, Talk, Talk

Again, take every chance possible to talk to strangers. To the single mom next to you in the bus or to the elder man drinking a coffee on the table behind you. Take chances, you won’t regret them!

5. Write with pen and paper!

Do something for those that you left behind and write them a real letter or at least a postcard instead of an email. People love to receive postcards. It’s the only positive mail we receive nowadays, everything else are just bills!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write emails on your travels anymore but try to send a few postcards here and there. You’ll create a smile on the receivers face. Promised!

6. Let’s bring style back to travel

I’m often guilty about this and I’m working on it. Let’s try to leave our sweatpants in our suitcases and travel with style again. Flying used to be sexy! Let’s bring a bit of glamour back to those metal tubes at 40.000 feet!

7. Accept invitations

How often do you get invited to someones house while traveling? Or maybe out to dinner? It happens quite often to me because people are friendly and open to strangers. This sounds weird to us, who are so close and appreciate their privacy in our own countries, right?

Let me tell you that first of all you will offend many people if you don’t accept their invitation but second people love being ambassadors for their own country and will probably enjoy your company as much, if not more, than you!

Please, accept invitations!

8. Participate in the local economy

Eat locally and most importantly live locally. Don’t stay in a hotel where you get the food you are used from home. Stay in an apartment and do grocery shopping like the locals at the market and cook for yourself.

One thing someone once told me was: Go to places for the experience, not to see things, you can see things at home!

 
Sebastian Canaves

Sebastian Canaves

Publisher & Marketing Consultant at Transit Media
Sebastian is the main contributor of Off The Path. He has been writing here for more than three years. Until today he has traveled to more than 60 countries and lived in more than 7 countries around the world including Australia, The Netherlands and Thailand.
Sebastian Canaves

@offthepathcom

✈ Travel Blogger ★ Marketing Consultant ☆ Social Media Expert ★ Co-founder @TransitMediaNET & @BlogCampDE ⚑ Tweets in German and English ⚑
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Sebastian Canaves

This post is also available in: German

17 Responses

  1. Laura

    Travelers experience things, tourists see things…No matter where I go, the best way to experience the most is to talk to people and to be open. The locals know usually know the best, hidden spots. Whenever I get invited to someone’s house, I always go. I’ve been lucky to meet amazing people and to even have two whole families I could visit any time I wanted; actually I did already re-visit one of them. I always feel so amazed my the hospitality of these people towards strangers, it’s for sure something we all could learn from!

    Reply
  2. Hans Jonas Hansen

    Hehe. I agree with you. But I must admit that if I go to the grocery store I don’t eat like the locals because you don’t learn at the grocery store what locals eat. Here it’s easier to visit local restaurants or if you have the chance eat at local’s home.

    I really like the idea of postcards but I have giving up on them. At least the ones where you go out to buy a postcard and a stamp to send it. Now there are services where you can send postcards with your own Instagram photos. So no pen and paper for me. :D

    Reply
  3. TinaD

    Taxi drivers in some parts (i know for mexico) receive commission for advertising/promoting certain bars/restaurants/especially clubs when talking to customers. So what taxi driver says is not always what he knows it is the best but what he is payed for. Taxi drivers can be really tricky :)

    Reply
  4. Tina

    Not going to leave my comfy leggings out of an red eye flight east or west but around Europe? Dress up!

    Reply
  5. Don

    Taxi drivers pick people up at the airport and leave them at homes and hotels. They are no more inclined than anyone else to see the sights that are overlooked by others, in fact, the opposite is true. Go to a cool club, or a cool place and count the number of taxi drivers there: zero. They have neither the money nor the time to go there. I have a great affection — also wariness — for taxi drivers, but they are bad source of advice on where to go. Ask a local person like yourself instead. This author seems overly obsessed with leaving a good impression on people he will likely never meet again, and that has little to do with creating a lasting memory. Be nice. Be generous, but don’t overestimate their attraction to you. It’s just a business to them. My bit of advice is to take long, long walks. When you’ve exhausted the district where you are staying, take a city bus somewhere and walk some more. 3 miles per hour X 3 hours = 9 miles per day. Finally, don’t post photos of what you ate. I personally hate it when people post food photos. They look so lazy and glutinous.

    Reply
    • Sebastian Canaves

      Seems like you’ve ONLY had bad experiences. I’m so sorry!

      Being scammed is part of travel. I expect it and therefore don’t worry too much about it anymore! I still trust the advice of cab drivers. Especially in big cities like in Bangkok they often are affiliated with some shops etc… but I also found some incredible places due to a good conversation with a cabbie!

      It always depends on how you speak to them. Learned a few local sentences? Bonus point for you. Treat him like “just a driver”? Of course he’s going to show you the bad places!

      Reply
    • Monika

      I absolutely agree with the opinion about taxi drivers. While there are a few good and helpful ones, it much more likely that you’re going to be cheated.

      But as for food photos… I love them! I love taking them as well as watching them and I’m happy my friends are just like me:)

      Reply
  6. Renuka

    It’s an interesting topic. I think being a good traveler is all about being more observant and eager to learn.

    Reply
  7. Diana Edelman

    I’m with the group in regards to taxis, as well as some hotel/shop people. When I was in Turkey, everyone got a kick back for everything. The best thing I have learned it to just go out and ask locals — engage them in conversation — and get their tips. I’ve been to some amazing places thanks to simply striking up a conversation.

    Reply
  8. Alex

    You have some great tips here and I think the crux of them is to engage with locals! Always a good idea :-)

    Reply
  9. Sara Chukoian @Green Travel Review

    This is such a useful post! I especially loved the last tip about getting involved in the local economy. I have never thought about this, but will be passing this tip in addition to all the other tips on this post. It is good to stay locally while traveling! Great tips, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Ligia

    LOL at the sweatpants thingy. I’ve just jotted that down, although I’m quite sure I wouldn’t travel wearing that. Not yet. (giggle)
    I’m a new traveler so I cannot tell if ALL the advice given by the 8 sentences are all right. However, I’ll check them all in practice.
    For all we know that we need not to be boring travelers. We’re there for experience, good or not. If not, what’s life?
    Take care you all. My regards, Sebastian.

    Reply
  11. turterunsfast

    this is why sometimes I can’t travel with some of my friends because I take things slowly and always do things spontaneously. When I was in Taipei with a friend of mine, I was really exhausted following her “schedule” which she revised quite a few times at home before we flew to Taipei. I think I pissed her off with my “laid-back” attitude. After she left Taipei first, I stayed there for another few days and amazingly I saw more, experienced more, and “felt” more. I could go whenever I wanted without being afraid of getting lost. I could stay at one place as long as I wanted, and spent as much time as I wanted for a photo. I ate in local and not so fancy restaurants. I walked a lot but also saw a lot more. When I think about Taipei, I can only remember the time I spent alone there even though I didn’t really visit any “must-go spots”.

    It depends on the place but most of the time I had good experience with locals whenever I travel. They give me lots of “aha” moments and show me places that I never know exist. I think sometimes people should be less skeptical and should place more trust in strangers. Good and bad people are everywhere after all :)

    Reply
  12. Dee Dee

    I just got back from Paris, Brussels & Brugge. The places are amazing (fell in love with Paris). But had a pretty bad trip partner(AND WHEN I SAY BAD, I REALLY MEAN IT). So I suggest that when you decide to travel with someone make sure he/she won’t make your trip a nightmare.
    But still tried to enjoy everything. It worked.

    Reply
  13. Travelling Penster (@travellingpens)

    I completely agree about listening to the locals! I only ever very roughly plan trips, and then ask locals and other travellers for tips along the way. It’s the only way to travel in my opinion! And eating locally is the best way to truly experience the culture, people, and food! :)

    Reply

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