Being a tourist can be fun, but traveling to foreign countries as a tourist can leave a lot to be desired.
You will always be caught in line for hours, you will get terrible service, and you will be tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.
What you need is a travel checklist to get you through your trip. We’ve put together our best advice on how to travel as a tourist in an under-visited location so that when you get there you’ll know exactly what to do.
1. Arrive Early, But Leave Early
I have a saying for this one: Arriving early and leaving early.
Most people think that arriving early means staying in a crowded, chaotic tourist hub all day. In reality, the opposite is true.
I always suggest getting to a foreign country’s main tourist city within 3-4 hours of the flight time. This gives you plenty of time to get your bearings and get your bearings.
It will also give you time to see the sights you want to see without having to deal with other tourists.
Arriving early means no crowd, no lines, and no pushy shop clerks or taxi drivers.
If you arrive too early, chances are you will get to the city just as the tourist sites are closing.
The key is to know when to leave. You don’t want to be stuck in a tourist area all day. You want to leave the tourist zone in plenty of time to see the sights you want to see before the crowds get too large.
This will mean leaving the country before the markets close and making sure you find your hotel before the local weekend tourists come out.
If you arrive in the country at peak season, you might be stuck in the tourist hub. And at peak season, there might not be anything to see anyway.
If you come in the off-season, there will be plenty to see in an under-visited location, and you’ll only have to deal with locals, which means no stupid tourists.
2. Stay In A Unique Hotel
Many budget hotels are similar. Same clean linens, same friendly staff, and same basic design. However, they are not always the best hotels.
On my trip to Oman, I stayed at a bed and breakfast in which the owner is a well-known photographer, and we started out talking about photography and traveling.
You have an opportunity to get a good deal on the place, with a local host who knows the country. You can eat their food or buy souvenirs there.
It’s a good example of what I want to refer to. It’s not a gaudy tourist trap, but it’s not a run-of-the-mill backpacker hotel either. It’s not anything anyone would see as special, but it turned out to be one of my favorite hotel experiences.
It was really fun. I saw the Blue Mosque and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque during our stay. We took their 7 km hike to the top of Jebel Shams. We got to talk to the locals and see their culture up close.
Check out this guide on other interesting things to do in Oman. It’s loaded with great recommendations.
3. Travel Off The Main Highway
Routes 1 and 15 are the most heavily traveled roads in the Middle East. But they are not the safest roads to travel in a country you are not familiar with.
Instead, consider taking the back roads when traveling in a new country. And in the off-season, don’t forget about the train.
The roads will usually have an “express lane,” which means they are only busy during rush hour. The slower roads usually have much smaller traffic.
4. Use The Internet
We live in a very connected world. You may not have access to a computer or Wi-Fi at your hotel, but you can still use the internet from anywhere in the world.
For example, I can use the free Wi-Fi at the Muscat airport to connect to the internet. I can also use Skype for free.
If you can get a cheap data plan for your phone, you can use apps like Google Maps and Waze to navigate while you’re driving in a country you unfamiliar with.
You can also use Google Translate to understand what people are saying around you and help you communicate.
That said, there are many advantages to using a native language or the online version of the language in the country you are visiting.
- You will have a richer and more authentic experience because you’re interacting with the culture instead of mimicking it.
- You can find more restaurants and bars that are safe to go into.
- It’s easier to have a better conversation with the locals and learn more about them.
- You can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
- There are many more advantages, but those are some of the big ones.
- Other things to know before visiting a new country
- If you want to avoid falling into the tourist trap, there are some other things you need to know before traveling to a new country.
- Most of them won’t negatively affect you, but it’s important to know what the locals expect from a visitor and to take some precautions.
- Be polite and respectful to everyone you meet. A simple “thank you” is the standard phrase for a new experience.
- Leave a tip at a hotel and pay cash for souvenirs.
- If someone tries to overcharge you, politely let them know.
- Make sure your credit cards work in that country.
- Before you depart on your trip, make sure your driver has a driving license, or get a lesson.
- Expect to tip your taxi driver and watch out for pickpockets.
- If your phone breaks, buy a local sim card so you can get more internet.
- Be cautious around beggars and begging children.
- Check out the street life in the local markets to know when to get out of the city.
- If you want to see other places in the country, rent a scooter and explore the country by yourself.
- If you’re traveling with kids, stay on the main roads or avoid the tourist areas. It’s much easier for kids to get lost in the crowd.
- The world is an incredibly big place, and you need to take advantage of it.
- Your travels don’t have to be stressful, confusing, and full of stress.
- And by following these tips, you can have a great travel experience no matter where you go.