In my opinion there are three categories of people who 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 sitting 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 to and 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 😉
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.
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!