You want a local travel experience. You start to research the destination. You will find that many cities are considered to be flooded with tourists. You have heard of some countries that seem to be very touristy, but others say they are not worth visiting.
This is real. There are many destinations in the world with many tourists/travelers. Therefore, if you want to stay away from mass tourism, finding the ideal tourist destination seems to be a real challenge.
But...think about this.
In my 19 years of constant travel, it seems to me that 90% of travelers (this is not based on any real data!) visit the same place, eat in the same restaurant along the same main square, and walk on the same street On, in and out of the same store all over the world.
There is nothing wrong with visiting the main attractions or the most interesting neighborhoods, or eating the famous pastries from the famous bakery.
However, if you want to experience local travel, all you really need to do is follow a very simple rule.
The 5-minute rule for the local travel experience
This is how it works:
- Step 1: Turn around.
- Step 2: Walk away.
Yes, it's that simple. This is the rule.
We have been in Lisbon for a few weeks now, and the city is definitely packed with tourists, travelers, cruise passengers and all kinds of foreigners. All "famous" areas have queues and crowds, and there are many "famous" areas!
If you don’t like visiting tourist attractions, you may have the urge to escape the city within a few minutes of your arrival.
Although Lisbon and Portugal as a whole are currently one of Europe's "tourist hotspots", our experience here is not a tourist attraction.
In fact, it is far from the case.
Again, all we did was turn around and walk away.
Local travel experience-community
When we look for places to eat, we look for blocks within a 5-minute walk of an area full of tourist-oriented restaurants.
When we wanted to have a cup of coffee, we turned from the famous square, lined with cafes serving low-quality food and beverages, and tourists were in a constant stream... and then we walked away. We walked along a random street and then climbed some random stairs.
When we want to explore the city, we head to the most popular area for tourists, then we choose a direction and start walking away. Sometimes we will return later and proceed again in a different direction.
Using this simple method, we finally got the local travel experience that we liked.
We finally found a cozy local restaurant in a quiet alley, without a TripAdvisor sticker on the door. Cannot speak English, the customers are Portuguese, the prices are only a small part of the nearby tourist restaurants...and the food is usually much better!
We also went to some cool places that few people seem to know, such as an excellent bookbinding shop, a scenic local meeting place, which quickly became our favorite cafe in the city, and an attractive but non-tourist beaches.
We caught a glimpse of real Lisbon life, in quaint parks where locals wandered everywhere, in hidden squares full of daily activities, in shops with the highest quality and cheapest fruits and pastries, and in the unpopular there are well-known attractions in the beautiful neighborhood to attract people.
It is real. This is very beneficial. And it's very interesting.
The real beauty of all this is that we don’t have to go to the outer suburbs of the city or the small villages an hour’s drive from Lisbon (which is great too!) to achieve this goal. All we did was walk for 5 minutes, away from the crowds of tourists.
It's that simple. The local travel experience is always available...anytime, anywhere, in every destination around the world.
Whether to own them or not is up to us.