At home, making trips to the supermarket or running around doing errands are hardly an exciting adventure. I’m known for my ‘errand days’. It’s just a part of your mainstream life. When you’re travelling, supermarkets, pharmacies and the like are sources of entertainment, amusement, information and free stuff. You can meet the most interesting people who’ll share their travel tips or pearls of wisdom on life, love and growing old.
A little reconnaissance (or ‘reky’) goes a long way if you’re interested in seeing and doing as the locals do, as well as the potential for new friends, freebies or experiencing events you didn’t know that were on.
CHECK THESE LOCATIONS OUT:
- Supermarket – have you ever stopped and realised all the weird and wonderful things you can find in a supermarket? Not only will you find the ingredients for a homemade dinner, you’ll most likely come across food and products you’ve never encountered at home (or feel homesick when you find Tim Tams in Thailand). From guns to turtles (as food, not pets) to pink camouflage vests (for ladies who hunt) to chicken in a can. Grocery shopping will become an exciting past time and you might even find something interesting to taste or smell!
- Public library and/or bookstore – always bring travellers and locals together. A great starting place to reky local noticeboards and newspapers as well allowing you to peruse books and other information about what’s popular in town or an upcoming event, such as a sporting event or a comedy show. Or just knowing what’s going on in current affairs or pop culture. (Feel free to avoid these places also, if you just want to explore the here and now. For one entire year, I managed to avoid celebrity gossip and you’ll be surprised how much time and brain space becomes available)
- Markets – What’s your bartering skills like? Pick up gifts and souvenirs, grab a bargain, eat local food with locals and do some people watching. Enjoy the crowds and the noise. An experience far more interesting than any clinical shopping centre! Be a good traveller, and don’t bargain too hard. Remember these stores are the livelihood of its workers. Be good at mental maths or use your phone calculator. Otherwise, you might find yourself arguing over 10 cents because you weren’t calculating the exchange rate correctly.
- Museums – expand your knowledge, and appear cultured and smart! Museums are a good way to learn whilst travelling and keep the brain ticking. Keep an eye for small museums and galleries – they’re full of surprises! A lot of well-known museums have free exhibitions, or days with free tickets, such as the permanent exhibitions at the Louvre in Paris (free on first Sunday of each month) or Museum of Modern Art in New York City (free on Friday nights between 4pm – 8pm). So, line up early!
- Waterfront areas – if you’re visiting a city on the coast or by the river, you’ll find that the locals utilise their waterfront areas for business and pleasure. Whether it’s a refreshing swim, a floating bar, fishing docks, international ports or row boats, there’s something for everyone.
- Tourism centre – this one is pretty self-explanatory. Where else will you greeted by a local with local advice and suggestions for activities, accommodation and entertainment?! It’s also where you can grab your free city map. I’m a big fan of signing visitor books!
- local park – nature, fresh air, people watching and picnics – what’s not to love about parks? Eat, relax, watch performers, sleep or exercise. Perfect for first dates, weddings and somewhere to wait before checking into your accommodation. Make sure you do some reky, if it’s too secluded or your gut feels unsure and uneasy, then move on. Don’t compromise on your personal safety.
- browse pass a travel agency – unless you need to book something in particular (and you feel like you’ll get a better deal in person), get ideas from the window advertisements. Sometimes, you’ll find pre-purchasing all your accommodation and activities aren’t always the most cost-effective (though, the most organised, if you’re so inclined). In Ushuaia, Argentina [the most Southern city in the world, therefore a gateway to Antarctica] we found cruises advertised locally from AUD2000 and online from AUD5000. Not all price differences are that significant, so weigh up the pros and cons. You know what to do 😉
On the go, we like to do a little reky before we arrive in any destination, just so we don’t look like first-time travellers (this can open you up for scams or unsolicited new friends!) and to maximise our time (Not all have the luxury or opportunity to go on a year-long adventure!).
Here are some of favourite bookmarks and apps:
- Historical and geographical info – wikitravel or The World Factbook
- Ideas for things to see and do – TripAdvisor or Viator
- Potential accommodation – Hostelworld or HostelBookers or booking.com or AirBnB
Do you have specific types of places that you visit in every destination? We’d love to know where you go, or did we miss somewhere?
Happy trip planning
Prue and Rob