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Don’t Just Visit. Belong

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Mohit Gupta

16 Sep
2017

Do you know that feeling?

If you’re reading this, chances are you love to travel. To delve into a new city, town or culture is an unmatched experience, and with today’s shrinking borders and increased accessibility, the world is at our fingertips. Read on for a few pointers on making the most of your next visit!

Live authentically.

You know that feeling when you’re in an alien place, yet feel oddly at home? Chase it. A good way to do this is opting for homestays or apartment rentals when travelling. You’re thrust directly into living as a local, but have the luxuries of your own space. You may get to explore neighbourhoods you wouldn’t otherwise see, and chat with residents who can be a treasure trove of information. It’s also far easier on the pocket than a hotel, with access to a lot more room.

Talk to locals.

You know that feeling of stumbling onto an amazing spot that not a single guide book or website mentioned? Seek it out. Engage with people who know their way around – they’ll have the best insight into the place. Chat with the caretakers of your homestay, the neighbourhood shopkeeper, the group by the bar – in all likelihood, they’ll be generous with tips, tricks, hacks and recommendations for your visit.

Do your research.

You know that feeling of investment in a new city, because you finally understand their history, culture and context? Don’t underestimate it. Do some research before you take off on your next trip. Now, if you’re the type of traveller who prefers to just show up without an itinerary, by all means – play it by ear. But read up on the history, customs and traditions of a place: arm yourself with enough knowledge that you don’t end up offending anybody. Moreover, it will give you context as to why things are the way they are and how a society or culture has developed – and isn’t that the very point of travel?

Embrace the food and drink.

You know the feeling of completely shocking your taste buds? Of discovering a new favourite dish and flavour? Will it into existence. One of the greatest joys of travel is exploring new cuisines and their nuances. Opt for the Turkish breakfast, the Sri Lankan curry and its thousand accompaniments, the crêpe with traditional Breton tripe sausage. Go for the Michelin stars, and stay for the authentic hole-in-the-wall.

Write things down.

You know the feeling of wanting to just transform into a maximum-absorption sponge because this moment is so beautiful? It’s ludicrous, but that’s the feeling you aim for. Record those moments – write them down at the end of the day, take photos. You’re absorbing so much information so fast; this will help keep it in order and let you relive the moment ten years down the line.

Another handy tip: make a physical note of your homestay address, your next destination, or a common meeting point. You never know when your smartphone will die on you, so make sure you have at least one safe address handy that can get you out of a tough spot.

Deep dive into life as a local.

You know that feeling of utter satisfaction, having cracked the code to navigating the city like a local? Pursue it, using public transport where possible. For one, it’s usually most cost effective, leaving you a bigger budget to spend on food, recreation or adventure. When traveling between towns or cities, it will also open up views and landscapes that you would never otherwise see. A city’s transport system provides great insight into its infrastructure, which is often a good lesson to take home with you – and that’s the point, after all: to keep learning across borders, cultures and communities.

 Mohit Gupta

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