Travelling to a new destination is always an exciting adventure and can offer a variety of experiences. Whether you’re exploring the streets of a new city, or heading out and immersing yourself in nature there are certain things that you should always do to make the most of your trip. From researching and planning before you go, to experiencing the local culture and cuisine, below we will guide you through the essential activities you should engage in when visiting a new destination.
Things to always do when visiting a new destination
1. Research and plan before your trip
Before heading on your journey, it’s crucial to research and plan your itinerary.
You can do this by reading online, such as on blog posts and other articles so as to understand your destination’s climate, local customs, and any necessary travel documents. You can also familiarize yourself with the country’s culture, traditions, and etiquette to ensure you respect local customs during your stay.
As well as this, research the best time to visit, popular attractions, and any events or festivals taking place during your trip. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on any unique experiences.
When planning your itinerary, strike a balance between must-see tourist attractions and off-the-beaten-path destinations. While it’s essential to visit famous landmarks, exploring lesser-known areas will give you a deeper understanding of the destination and allow you to uncover hidden gems. Take advantage of online resources, travel guides, and fellow travellers’ recommendations to create a comprehensive plan that aligns with your interests and preferences.
2. Experience some of the local culture
One of the most enriching aspects of travelling is immersing yourself in the local culture. To truly experience the essence of a new destination, engage with its people, traditions, and way of life.
Watch and interact with locals and locals to learn about how they live their daily lives, as well as their customs, and traditions. You could also try having conversations with them, asking for recommendations, and being open to new experiences. This will provide you with valuable insights and create meaningful connections and lasting memories.
Immerse yourself in the local arts scene by attending cultural performances, such as traditional music concerts or dance shows. Visit local markets and bazaars to witness the vibrant array of goods on display and support local artisans. If possible, see traditional ceremonies or festivals to witness age-old traditions come to life.
By embracing the local culture, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the destination and its people.
3. Try the local cuisine
A trip to a new destination wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Each region has its own unique culinary traditions and flavours, and trying the local dishes is an enjoyable way to explore the destination’s culture.
Be adventurous and sample traditional street food, visit local restaurants, and seek out authentic food experiences. From aromatic curries to mouthwatering desserts, every bite will transport you closer to the heart of the destination.
To enhance your gastronomic journey, consider taking a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional dishes. This hands-on experience will not only teach you new culinary skills but also provide a deeper understanding of the local ingredients and techniques. Find cooking classes.
Don’t forget to pair your meals with the country’s signature beverages, whether it’s sipping tea in a Moroccan tea house or indulging in sake in Japan.
Exploring the local cuisine is an excellent way to connect with the destination on a sensory level.
4. Learn about the destination and its history
To fully appreciate a new destination, take the time to learn about its history and significance. Understanding the historical context will give you a deeper appreciation of the attractions and destinations you visit.
Guided tours are a great option as you’ll get shown around many of the best locations in the city learning about the destination. You’ll often find a variety of options available including walking tours (sometimes free options), bike tours, segway, bus and other options. GetYourGuide and Viator are a few options of places you can find these. Or read our article on some of the best places to find tours when you travel.
Also visit museums, historical sites, and cultural centres to delve into the destination’s past. Engage with knowledgeable guides or audio tours to gain insights into the historical events that shaped the region.
By immersing yourself in the destination’s history, you’ll develop a stronger connection to the place and its people.
5. Visit some of the must-see tourist attractions
While it’s important to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, it’s equally essential to visit the must-see tourist attractions. These landmarks are popular for a reason and offer a glimpse into the destination’s iconic features. Research the top attractions and plan your visit accordingly, keeping in mind any time restrictions or ticket requirements. It can often be worth getting skip-the-line tickets in advance as this can be a big time saver on the day that you’re planning to visit. Especially for super popular attractions.
Also, consider booking guided tours to fully appreciate the historical and cultural significance of these sites. Head to our tour finder page to start your search.
When visiting these attractions, be mindful of respectful behaviour. Follow any rules or regulations in place, such as dress codes or photography restrictions.
Avoid overcrowded times if possible to ensure a more enjoyable experience. Remember, these attractions are popular for a reason, and by visiting them, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the destination’s significance and history.
6. Get off the beaten path and explore hidden gems
While the must-see tourist attractions are undoubtedly worth visiting, don’t limit yourself to just those. Take the time to get off the beaten path and explore hidden gems that are often overlooked by tourists. Talk to locals, and fellow travellers, and read blog articles and other online resources to discover lesser-known destinations and experiences. These hidden gems will provide a more authentic and intimate connection with the destination.
Venture beyond the city centres and popular areas to discover quaint villages, serene natural landscapes, and secluded beaches. Explore local neighbourhoods, wander through local markets, and embrace the spontaneity of your discoveries. By exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, you’ll gain a unique perspective and create memories that are truly your own.
7. Try out unique activities or experiences
To make your trip even more memorable, seek out unique activities or experiences that are specific to the destination. Whether it’s learning traditional crafts, participating in local sports, or embarking on adventurous excursions, these activities will add a special touch to your journey. Research local tour operators or activity providers who offer these experiences and book in advance if necessary.
Consider trying out activities such as snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, hiking through breathtaking landscapes, taking a local food cooking class, or learning traditional dance moves.
Engaging in these unique experiences will not only create lasting memories but also allow you to connect with the destination in a more meaningful way. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the opportunities that the new destination presents.
8. Interact with the locals
Travelling is not just about visiting places; it’s about connecting with people. Interacting with locals will provide you with a deeper understanding of the destination’s culture, traditions, and way of life. Engage in conversations, ask for recommendations, and be open to new friendships. Locals are often the best source of insider tips and hidden gems that are not found in guidebooks.
Strike up conversations with shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and restaurant staff. Attend local events or community gatherings to meet people who share a passion for the destination. You could also join language exchange programs or volunteer opportunities to connect with locals on a deeper level. By interacting with the locals, you’ll gain a more authentic perspective and create meaningful connections that will last long after your trip ends.
9. Support a local business
When visiting a new destination, make a conscious effort to support local businesses. Instead of opting for international chains or familiar brands, seek out local establishments, shops, and restaurants. By supporting local businesses, you contribute to the local economy and help preserve the cultural heritage of the destination.
Shop for souvenirs at local markets or boutique stores, where you’ll find unique and handmade items that reflect the local craftsmanship. Dine at family-owned restaurants that serve authentic cuisine, and visit local artists’ studios to purchase original artwork.
Consider staying at guesthouses or bed and breakfasts, to support the local hospitality industry.
By supporting local businesses, you’ll not only have a more authentic experience but also make a positive impact on the destination and its community.
10. Support buskers or others on the street
As you explore your destination you may come across locals performing traditional music. It’s nice to stop when you do to appreciate the experience and their performance, as well as to give them some cash if you have some.
As well as buskers and performers we’d also recommend supporting homeless and others in need on the street. A small amount of cash could make a big difference to someone who doesn’t have anything and it’s a good way to make a positive impact on those that live in the country you’re visiting.
11. Capture memories through photography
When travelling don’t forget to capture the memories of your trip through photography. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply using your smartphone, photography allows you to document your experiences and share them with others. Take the time to capture the beauty of the destination, its people, and its landscapes.
Try different compositions and angles when taking your images as well as taking pictures during sunset and other times throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to step away from the usual postcard shots and try to capture the essence of the destination in a unique way.
In addition to taking photos of landmarks and attractions, focus on capturing candid moments, local street scenes, and everyday life. These photographs will serve as a visual diary of your trip and allow you to relive the memories for years to come.
12. Take a moment to sit, relax and truly appreciate where you are
Lastly, often when travelling and especially when visiting somewhere new the experience can be very hectic as you will want to see as much as possible. However, it’s important to make sure you put time aside to sit, relax and take a moment to absorb your surroundings and where you are.
So if you’re hiking in nature and see a beautiful scene, don’t just take pictures of it, but also stop and take a moment to take it all in. The same for when you’re in a city, so try and rest, such as on a bench or at an alfresco restaurant and spend a bit of time without looking at your phone, taking pictures, or deciding what you will do next on the map, but instead just enjoy the moment.
Visiting a new destination is an opportunity to expand your horizons, embrace new cultures, and create lasting memories.
By researching and planning before your trip, experiencing the local culture and cuisine, exploring both famous landmarks and hidden gems, and engaging with the locals, you’ll have a truly immersive and enriching travel experience.
Remember to support local businesses, capture memories through photography, and most importantly, embrace the spontaneity and adventure that comes with exploring a new destination.
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