If you've followed my first six tips for solo budget travel, you can probably guess that I am addicted to creative adventure. For those of you thinking about or planning one of your own, here are the next three tips out of my top 13.
To access my entire photo-filled tip list, I invite you to visit my website at http://wordgeisha.com/WGblog2008.html. And now, tips #7-9:
7. Make the most of your budget. You can visit most major European cities for under $100/day per person. In many ways, the less you spend, the closer you get to the local culture and the farther you escape from your own. By living as locals do, you’ll have more opportunities to see authentic cultural differences and gain perspective about the ways things are done in a foreign place than you would on a big, organized tour. Rather than viewing a limited budget as a restriction, see it as an enticement into local markets, bistros, dive bars and front seats at street shows in world-class cities.
8. Relish the joys of solo travel. Independent travel allows you to custom-tailor your trip to your pace and interests. You can go where you want when you want. To maximize those freedoms, do your research and be creative with your itinerary. Put yourself in places where you can meet and communicate with locals rather than relying on service rendered with purchased smiles. If you allow yourself to be herded around like a school child to establishments offering plain-vanilla experiences to travelers and financial kickbacks to tour companies, you’ll diminish your chance to absorb cultural differences—presumably an important reason you’re traveling in the first place. By investing yourself fully, meeting people along the way, you’ll have a chance to see how other people live, think and look at the world.
9. Be a cultural chameleon. Forget McDonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks! Leave Holiday Inn and Ramada at home! Travel is a cultural Pandora’s box rife with new culinary and recreational experiences; to fully appreciate these, eschew American-style hotels and restaurants and patronize establishments that reflect the culture you’re visiting. Drink Guinness in Ireland, red wine in France, raki in Turkey and ouzo in Greece. Eat crêpes in Paris, gelato in Florence, herring in Amsterdam, octopus in Rhodes and tapas in Madrid. Wherever you go, look for places that cater to locals rather than corporate institutions. By sleeping, eating and playing like a temporary resident rather than a tourist, you’ll maximize your travel experiences.