I know that self-employed people starting a home business are freedom seekers that also love traveling and exploring the world.  Experiencing a foreign culture is about immersing yourself in its culture, art, food, and people.  But when Americans travel abroad, we sometimes have a bad habit of neglecting these experiences and instead just focus on sightseeing those tourist-guide-recommended attractions, one-by-one, like we’re checking off items on a list.  Don’t be a tourist, be an adventurer – a worldly travel ready to experience something new, different and exciting.adventure travel janae tourist

  • Leave the Camera Behind:  A Kodak moment can capture a memory in time, but more often than not, tourists take unnecessary pictures of attractions that a million other tourists have already photographed.   The camera can be a mental barrier between seeing something and experiencing something.  Ask yourself, am I here to experience a new culture or am I here to have a new picture to show off on my Facebook page?
  • Stop and Reflect – Tourists rush from place to place trying to see all the sites listed in their guidebooks.  Stop every now and then to sit at a café or park and blend in with the background.
  • Go to Church:  Where is the best place to see the natives as they really are?  Where do people let their guard down, socialize, and be real with each other?  Even if you are not religious, visiting a church is a great way to get an authentic cultural experience.
  • Stay out of the Gift Shop:  Nothing says “tourist” like a shot glass of the Sistine Chapel.  Souvenirs just weigh you down and make you look tacky.
  • Read their Literature:   If you’re going to Warsaw, don’t just read a tourist guidebook on Poland, read Sienkiewicz – the Nobel Prize winning Polish author.
  • Tip Accordingly – Different countries have their own tipping customs.  Find out what is a proper tip and always leave it, no more no less.
  • Move Independently – Don’t shuffle onto a tour bus, get a bike, car, or just hoof it to get around.  This freedom gives you the ability to explore off the beaten path.
  • Go Off Track – Step outside the pages of your guidebook and discover places yourself.  It’s more rewarding to find unique and hidden cultural treasures yourself than be told where to find them.
  • Eat with the Natives – The most authentic restaurants won’t be mentioned in a guidebook because that’s where all the tourists are going to flock to.  Find a crowded kitchen where the local crowd hangs out.
  • Learn a Few Words – Some students in other countries are forced to study English for a decade, so the least you can do is learn how to say “please” and “excuse me” in their native language.  No one expects you to learn the entire language for a two-week visit, but memorizing a handful of common words is respectful.
  • Leave the Heavy Travel Gear Behind – A fanny pack and an enormous bag or suitcase is the international uniform of the clueless tourist.  Travel light and shop at the local market or thrift store to dress like the locals.

As a single woman and one that has been assaulted overseas, I am an advocate of traveling safely. Here are some ways that particularly pertain to women travelers:

  • Use a Map Discreetly – Don’t get lost, but don’t advertise the fact that you need to avoid getting lost.
  • Be Prepared for the Weather – No one wants a rainy vacation, but the weather doesn’t care what you want.  So prepare according to the forecast to avoid getting stranded in the rain.
  • Don’t Wear a Tourist Shirt – Never buy and wear a t-shirt with the name of the place you are visiting.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to give away your nonnative identity?  What’s the best advice you can to someone thinking about traveling abroad?  Share your stories and tips below.

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Looking to start a business or own a small business? Please consider buying my book, How to Start Your Business with $100 because it will save you thousands of dollars and you should find what you’re looking for.

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