Did you know that community is not defined by one locality? In fact, you can find community no matter if you’re staying in your neighborhood or traveling around the globe. Recently, my quest for loving my locality took me to opposite ends of North America; namely, Vermont and Mexico. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned.
1.Look Outside the Map
I’m totally guilty of looking up tourist attractions before I visit a new place. I’ve got to hit the hot spots, I convince myself as I begrudgingly take out my phone to snap up the hot spots. While it’s normal and fulfilling to check out world renown places, it’s even more amazing when you stumble off the beaten pass to explore the authentic local attractions. The ones that are not written about in your latest edition of Fodor’s or Rick Steve’s. Finding those places comes down to my next tip.
2. Walk or Bike Around
Sure it’s tempting to take an Uber or taxi to scoot around a new town. Sure beats getting lost, right? However, if you don’t get lost (a little), you’ll never discover the true gems a locality has to offer. The last time I was in Venice, I remember walking an extra bit outside of my planned route. I was glad I did. I stumbled upon the vivacious Jewish Quarter, full of great restaurants and local artisan shops that were way more affordable than the ones next to my centrally located Venetian hotel. When walking is not an option for various reasons, don’t fret. There are tons of other ways to find the inside route.
3. Befriend the Locals
It’s no coincidence that hotels have concierges to help their visitors find a great restaurant or place to visit. However, have you ever wondered if the concierge has visited those same places themselves? Many times, hotels have unofficial contracts with establishments in close proximity to support each other’s businesses. A better solution – talk to locals in unexpected places. My daughter happened to make eye contact with another young girl in a Vermont restaurant. Turns out, her parent grew up in the area and gave us stellar tips on the best coffee spots or apres ski places. At least that was certainly the case for me. And now, my daughter appears to have a forever friend and ski buddy.
4. Ask Your Friends
You don’t have to be on the Metaverse to tap into your social network. By simply telling a few friends where you are traveling next, you will be surprised at how many recommendations suddenly appear. Even if a friend hasn’t been there personally, chances are they have a friend who has and would love to share their favorite places (and maybe a few thousand pictures).
5. Take Some Time To Research
I get it, thinking ahead before you take a trip isn’t for everyone. Some may find that an unscripted vacation could be meaningful. In my experience, there are so many answers out there, if you take the time. One book recommendation I received from a friend, was written by insider, and provided me more than enough places to check out when I visit Mexico next month. If books aren’t your thing, travel bloggers are abundant and easy to find through social media searches.
While some of these tips might not be new to you, I hope they’ve given you some inspiration, far beyond the in-flight magazine or the kiosk of brochures at the airport. Whether you travel outside your city or to another country, my best tips are simple: Don’t forget to smile and Don’t forget to look up. You’ll never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll discover.