Ten Tips to Travel Differently

Curious how we travel differently?

  • It’s like watching a movie in 2D vs 3D.
  • It’s like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean vs the Dead Sea.
  • It’s like eating an ice cube vs ice cream.
  • It’s like listening to an eight year old’s plastic recorder vs a world-class violinist.
  • It’s like walking on concrete next to an interstate vs a mountain pathway lined with wildflowers.

Catch the difference? It’s subtle, but powerful.

Here are 10 ways we travel differently, and so can you!

Before you leave…

1 – Book an airbnb in a local area—close enough to the main sites yet in a non-touristy area. I use the map feature to search for places in the exact spot I’m looking for. Also, be sure to thoroughly read through the reviews. I love to pick a place with a host who is friendly and goes above-and-beyond to interact with guests.

One of my all-time favorite airbnbs was two blocks from Lake Bled in Slovenia. It was a quaint alpine cottage nestled in a quiet district that was still within walking distance to the grocery store and tourist district.

Planning a trip? Get $40 toward your first airbnb booking when you sign up using this link, and we will receive a small travel credit too. Win-win! 

2 – Download Google Maps offline. We didn’t learn this until a few months into our travels.

In fact, one time in England we drove through six round-a-bouts to get to the grocery store and then couldn’t find our way home…and Brett was driving on the “wrong side” of the car and the “wrong side” of the road—that’s when we discovered offline maps! Now we don’t travel without them!

3 – Research the local culture. Star the must-visit tourist sites on your map, and some less-popular sites worth visiting. Hunt for blogs written by locals who recommend their favorite park, restaurant, and hang-out spots.

4 – Learn a few words. Seriously, learning how to say “Hello” and “Goodbye,” “Thank you,” and “Where is the toilet?” will completely transform the way you travel.

Hint: We also like to learn how to ask: “Do you have wifi?” “What is your favorite…” And a few basic foods (chicken, potato, coffee, gelato, fish, etc.)

While you’re traveling…

5 – Don’t eat on the main square. Seriously, unless it’s like a top-rated restaurant, always go a few blocks away. It’s cheaper and less crowded and wayyy more likely to have local people and food.

I won’t forget the afternoon we walked through a small town in Germany. The restaurants closest to the tourist sites were packed and pricey. Plus, you know how annoying it is when you walk by and waiters are shoving an English menu in your face. No thank you! However, we walked a few blocks away and found a restaurant without an English menu with only Germany-speaking patrons. That’s our kind of spot!

6 – Ask for recommendations. Airbnb hosts, or even the staff at your hotel, are a great place to start! They are locals who live and work in that town. Where do they like to go hang out with friends? Eat lunch? Shop for clothes? Hike for a view? Don’t be afraid to ask. They’re usually more than willing to help, and often ask “What did you think?” after you get back.

7 – Keep your schedule open. Yeah, you wanna make sure you have time to see all of those famous sites. But give yourself some spare time. Spend an afternoon at the park with your kids. Walk along the waterfront before dinner. And allow yourself the freedom to meet a local or make friends with other travelers.

We were visiting a family in Rome, Italy. Their 3 boys wanted an afternoon at the park, so we all went to the playground. Other families were there too since it was a lovely day. Brett ended up having a ten minute conversation in Italian with a grandpa. I met a Mom married to a Brit, and we spoke for a while (in English) about what it’s like to live in Italy. If our trip had been packed to the brim, we would never have had the opportunity to make new friends and memories with these peoples.

After you return home…

8 – Hang your pictures on the wall. What a great way to remember your trip! Plus, stunning photographs are an excellent conversation starter. We have thousands of photos, so we compiled them into printed photo books that we have piled on our coffee table.

9 – Reflect on the many ways that travel has changed you. You’ve seen the stories of history come alive. You’ve feasted on fascinating natural wonders. You’ve tasted flavors of foreign lands. You’ve explored the world beyond your own backyard. And that will forever leave it’s impression on you.

10 – Plan your next trip. Traveling differently has exposed all of our senses to a whole new world (literally). Seeing the Swiss Alps made us want to explore the French Alps. Wandering around an Italian village made us wonder what a Slovenia village was like. Eating German food made us curious about Austrian dishes. One trip down, another one on the way!

How has travel changed you?


Jana is an SEO copywriter and content editor plus travel YouTuber. She loves all things gelato, sunshine, and words. Her perfect day? Tossing on sunglasses to read a book and catch some rays, then dinner with her husband and friends. In her free time, Jana disciples teen girls and cooks from scratch (like homemade pasta). Jana lives in Switzerland with her husband, Brett.

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