How to Have an Authentic Foreign Experience
For us at Untravelled Paths, it’s all about adventure. By definition, adventure means to have an unusual and exciting or daring experience, typically that involves some degree of risk. This doesn’t have to be anything major; the risk of getting a little lost in a new place, the risk of not knowing a foreign language, the risk of making a spontaneous decision that leads to something amazing. Having an authentic foreign experience is all about the adventure! So, if you’re heading off this year on a holiday adventure, here are some simple tips for having an authentic foreign experience.
Reach out to the Locals
When you want to find out about a particular place, the source of all knowledge will be the people that live there. For the most part, people are often proud of where they live and are more than happy to share their insider info with those who take the time to ask. Whether this is the best place to eat, the best street food stalls or where to visit that isn’t a tourist hotspot, engaging in conversation with some local people will open up new opportunities and allow you to explore the place in an entirely new way.
Don’t Use TripAdvisor
Yes, we know how crazy this sounds! The rise of TripAdvisor has meant that we all now have an all-seeing power when it comes to the best restaurants, best places to visit and how long we should spend in each location. Although all of these things contribute to a better overall experience, they also lead to a very curated and inauthentic experience, allowing you to see only a narrow slice of your destination. Take the time to explore the side streets in search of bars, cafes and restaurants, use your instincts and don’t be afraid to try something new.
It’s also worth noting that TripAdvisor can be a little misleading, as there are fake reviews placed by businesses in an attempt to bring in customers. We’d suggest using TrustPilot when you do want to make an informed decision, it is much more reliable in our experience!
Don’t Follow the Crowds
Linking on from the last point, when you’re looking for how to spend your time during the day, visiting the hottest tourist spots will mean you’ll receive a processed version of the place. Granted, there are some places that you just cannot afford to miss, regardless of how busy they are. But, for other attractions, try breaking out from the mould in search of something new. Whether this is a hidden beach just along the coast or a lesser known museum at the other side of town, you’ll get a much more rewarding (and quieter) experience when you take some time to explore for yourself.
Street Food and Food Markets
For many countries, where there is a restaurant of that food style in the UK, the food in the country itself will be miles better. Authentic food in its home nation is something that’s tough to be beaten, and never quite replicated when taken out of the country. Street food and food markets will offer a deeper insight into the culinary workings of a destination and open you up to new experiences and foods. Street food can have a perception of being ‘a little dodgy’, but as long as you aren’t the only one in line, you should be ok. Although this goes against the point above, crowds are a good sign when it comes to food, especially street food; if people consider it worth waiting for, it usually will be.
Head to an Event
Events such as festivals, carnivals and general activities that bring out the locals will give you a fantastic opportunity to join in the celebrations. These events are typically enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and can be a chance for you to connect with people of shared interests, such as music, art or food. Although festivals aren’t a great example of day to day life, with people enjoying themselves more than they would be on a typical day, it can be a great chance to see the core of the culture. This allows you to truly understand what they celebrate and why it’s important to them.
In Slovenia, one of our favourite locations, the city of Ljubljana has a weekly food festival called the Open Kitchen. This celebrates the food diversity of the city and allows restaurants and local chefs to set up stalls outside and prepare their favourite dishes in front of people. These events are perfect for meeting new people and connecting with locals that share a love of good food.
If you’re looking to plan your next adventure, why not check out our experience holidays? We offer a fantastic range of less travelled destinations such as trips to Ethiopia or Montenegro tours. Get in touch to find out more info or to book your next trip!