Traveling to a new country is exciting, but can also be quite daunting if you're unfamiliar with a language or culture, writes Twice The Baggage.
But it needn't be, which is why we've come up with this list of ways to ensure an unforgettable experience of any new country you visit.
1. Indulge in famous local dishes
It’s always wise to eat as the locals do. Be sure to do your research before you go on your trip. There is just something about trying the local dishes, whether it is something you have never had before, or just new flavors. However; try to not go to the touristy local restaurants. Get off the beaten path and try some authentic locations, or better yet, find a market! Ask someone at the location you are staying at, or ask someone in a local shop. Find out where their favorite place to eat for local cuisine is and give it a go. Try not be scared to try something new, you might just like it!
2. Talk with the locals
This is best done at a local pub over a pint of beer, and goes hand in hand with trying the local food. Chat with everyone you meet, find out about their culture, what they like to eat, drink etc., basically just be friendly. Tell them where you're from, why you're visiting and ask for some recommendations on things to do – everyone will have their own ideas.
TTB tip: Wise safety advice is not to tell anyone too much about your own travel plans, or where you're staying.
3. Explore through an excursion
You may want to be immersed by the major cities throughout the world. However; TTB highly suggests booking an excursion to a smaller, lesser-known city, in the same country. One of the best days we have had while traveling together was when we took the train from Brussels to Bruges in Belgium. On this trip, we were able to see the countryside by train, learn more about the country's history, and get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
We have also ventured out from London to see Bath and from Athens to see Santorini.
4. Remember your trip with a quality souvenir
We have all been there, you are walking the streets in a large city, and you purchase a very cheap $5 I love [insert city/country] shirt. Two weeks later the lettering falls off in the wash.
Do some research before you leave and try to find a local company. For example, when we were in Germany, we purchased clothing from Jack Wolfskin (Germany version of North Face), and treated ourselves to Longchamp bags in France. Looks for something you will actually use and have memories from.
We encourage you to shy away from the cheap, overproduced knick-knacks. They will end up sitting in a junk drawer until you find it five years later. You want to purchase something that you’ll actually use and make you smile every time you see it.
5. Find a free walking tour
If you know us or have visited our site before you know that we walk quite a bit everywhere we go. Walking is great for many reasons:
- Exercise after eating a lot of local food and trying the beer
- It is a great way to take in the city/country you are visiting.
So that brings us to the point of #5, research walking tours! Free walking tours are one of the top things you should do. Almost every major city we have visited has had a free walking tour. You will be expected, and should, to tip the guide as they are most likely a working student making ends meet, so it's not completely free. Nonetheless they're invariably interesting, fun and help you become accustomed to any given city.
6. See the city at night
You get a whole new sense of the city when it is lit up at night. One major memory from our trip to Paris, which I will never forget, is when we got to see the Eiffel Tower turn its lights on at night. We rushed to the local grocery store to be total cliche French.
We quickly purchased a bottle of wine, some beer, a baguette, and some cheese. After rushing to the Eiffel Tower we sat on the grass and just enjoyed life. Seeing the city at night is definitely one of the things you should do as you will never forget it.
7. View the city from multiple perspectives
We love to see the city we are in from every angle. This includes walking, taking a boat tour, climbing a cathedral, and seeing the city from above as you land. You’ll always find something new and exciting to see. Plus, you’ll meet people from all walks of life and hear their best tips/tricks.