When the weather starts to warm up, we start daydreaming about jet-setting. Predictably, we've been bitten by the travel bug, and we can't wait to start exploring. Summer is the perfect time to hop on a plane, jump into your car, or even travel by sea to new and exciting places around the world. Wherever your travels take you, we know you want to make the most out of your whirlwind trips and spontaneous adventures. But the plight of the tourist is real: navigating, communicating, and exploring in a new place can be a serious challenge, and it's pretty tempting to simply stick to the basic tourist tropes in lieu of venturing out on your own. Upgrade your status from tourist to true explorer with a few simple tips and tricks that'll make the most of your globe-trotting this summer.
1. Befriend locals before your trip.
While guidebooks are a great place to start, they can’t compete with the insights and tips of an actual local from your destination. Everybody loves to show off their city’s unique culture, gems, and attractions, so hop online and connect with someone new. Start by asking friends and co-workers for any connections, and check out these websites that are specifically designed to connect tourists (and explorers!) with locals eager to take you on unique tours, new experiences, and little-known destinations. Let the journey begin!
2. Do your research.
This one’s simple: after you book your trip, do your homework. School may be out for the summer, but for travelers, learning new things is a part of the fun. You’ll get the most out of your trip if you spend some time reading up on your destination’s history, culture, and current events. Your research will inform and enhance your sight-seeing, and it’ll give you something to talk about with locals and other tourists. Not sure where to start? Mango’s courses are fully-equipped with fun and interesting culture notes to jump-start your learning.
3. Utilize your social network.
During your trip, you’re likely to flood Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with photos of your adventures abroad (tag us, please?!), and odds are, they will be a hit. But we want you to avoid every traveler’s nightmare: a friend comments on your photo, alerting you that a close friend owns a beautiful villa right near where you're staying – if only they’d known sooner, you could have visited! Don’t wait until you’re on the trip to alert your social network of your plans. You never know who’s connected to who in the vast labyrinth of social media – use it to your advantage!
4. Get cultured.
Traveling to a non-English speaking country can be intimidating – trust us, we know! Calm your nerves by brushing up on your conversation skills in your destination’s language, and familiarize yourself with their common customs and social norms. Mango's courses are designed to teach practical, relevant vocabulary and phrases; you’ll learn to introduce yourself, order food and drinks, ask for directions, and more. When you arrive, you’ll feel confident enough to skip the English-speaking tourist traps and venture out to explore authentic cuisine, new hang-outs, and unique experiences in the area. Now that’s our kind of vacation.
5. Take public transit.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Romans use public transportation, so why shouldn’t you? Many of the most popular destinations abroad (think Paris, Brazil, Hong Kong, and London) have excellent public transportation systems, so skip the rental car and join the masses on public transit. You’ll see more of the city, spot destinations you may want to visit, and interact with more locals. Keep a map on hand and download transit apps on your smartphone to help you navigate the new-to-you system.
6. Start a conversation.
Bet you saw this one coming. This is one of our favorite mottos for a reason, and we think you should give it a try. Take your well-practiced language skills, your cultural know-how, and your enthusiasm to explore, and start a conversation with anyone and everyone you meet (extra points if it’s in their native language!).
Traveling season is here, Mangos. Pack your bags, burn your guidebooks (just kidding, there’s some good stuff in there!), and get ready to have some really awesome vacations.