I hear this a lot from travelers, “I want to do something that no-one else has done, I want to go off the beaten track.” And then the next thing they do is follow the path that hordes of tourists take.
How can you truly go off the beaten track? What does it mean? When will you know?
Off the beaten track does not necessarily mean that there won’t be other travelers. Suppose you want to wander the backstreets and alleys of the city, its been done so many times before.
If you want to truly get off the beaten track, you’ve gotta get local. Getting local means meeting people who are well-integrated into the local scene. Its not an authentic experience getting local with an ex-pat.
The friends you make in the local circles will have grown up in the area. They will know the language, the culture, the food, the places to hang out (hopefully not a shopping mall), the local art scene (that tourists don’t generally care about), local customs, celebrations, festivals, hints and tips.
You’ll get under the skin of the city. Once you have lost your sense of comfort – you’ll know you’ve veered off the beaten track. You’re now in unknown territory. You muster all the experiences you’ve had, all the knowledge and know-how to survive out in the world on your own.
Because really, you could consider making friends with locals in itself a deviation from the beaten track. You’re away from the tourist traps. You’re away from the manufactured and packaged scenes that are so often used in tourism advertising. Maybe now you’re a local, too? Or maybe you preserved a little more heart and have become a little more human…?
Make a connection with people, people will connect you to a place.