When planning for a trip to a new country or destination, usually a standard city tour will be in the plans, yet with the advent of the Internet comes with the advantage of being able to see amazing sights without needing to be there. This leaves you with more time for experiences and discoveries that lean towards the unique yet highly memorable side. Here’s a shortlist of “hardly tourist-y” things you can do instead of the standard fare.
1. Get cookin’
And we mean literally. Designate one meal during your entire trip where you will be the one to actually cook an authentic dish using fresh, homegrown ingredients right in the heart of the city it originated in. Think rolling your own sushi in Japan, simmering a pot of green curry in Thailand, and churning out your own pasta in Italy. Vacation homes usually come with a kitchen and many locals offer cooking lessons for travellers and open their homes (or come to your vacation home) for such an experience.
2. Skip the postcard; paint a picture
Headed to a breath-taking tourist spot? Make a pit stop at the local art store and stock up on a sketchpad, some coloring materials, pencils and erasers. Once you arrive at your destination, pick a good spot with an amazing view and sketch and then color in the breath-taking sight before you. You can even get the whole family in on the project; it would be interesting to see how each one depicts the same sight. Months and years later, you have a memorable souvenir of your vacation – one that you made yourself right there.
3. Hire a local to clue you in
Instead of the standard tour group, try looking for someone who can give you a tour of a city’s underground scene or side street life. While others trudge down Main Avenue, you are busy exploring hidden gems around nondescript side streets or sipping a long black coffee homegrown and roasted at a local artist’s pub / gallery. Make a list of things you want to try (ex. Good eats, craft scene, local art, etc.) and let your trusty local resident research the best experience for you.
4. Enlist your own paparazzi
Since pictures paint a thousand words, why not have a pro take them for you? On the busiest day of your trip, consider hiring a local photographer to follow you around and take snapshots of you and your trip mates the whole day. The advantage of doing this is having amazing stolen shots that capture authentic reactions and interactions, as opposed to posing in front of one tourist site after the other. Now, those are picture-perfect memories you would want to look back every once in a while.
5. Conquer your fear!
If there is something that you are a bit afraid of or hesitant to do, nothing makes it more memorable than conquering it while on a vacation. Afraid of heights? Go parasailing in Hawaii. Fearful of insects? Eat a fried (and totally edible) one in Indonesia. Surely, there is something you want to overcome or try at least once in your life – and being on vacation is certainly a good opportunity to do it. At the very least, you can say you went out of your comfort zone in one of the world’s or region’s must-visit areas!
Traveling allows you to see other places and look into a culture worth peaking through. While you have the chance, enjoy it, savor every minute and details of it and discover a lot of things that you and your family or friends will totally cherish for a very long time.