For me, travel is all about meeting new people and fully immersing myself in a different culture. And the only way to do so is to travel like a local! When I travel, I aim to make my trips as authentic as possible by interacting with the local people and community. It presents a unique opportunity to learn from a variety of people, life perspectives, and cultures that would otherwise go undiscovered! The next time you’re traveling, try these tips below to fully immerse yourself in the area you’re visiting.

Dress Like The Locals

Not everyone dresses the way we do in the United States. Although jean shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and baseball cap is the normal way of dressing while on vacation in Florida, that’s not the case elsewhere around the world! If you’re taking a trip to Paris, for example, you should leave the baseball cap at home and dress like the Parisians do. See this article for advice on how to dress on a trip to Paris.

It’s also important to note that you should dress like locals for safety reasons. If you look like a tourist, that’s a dead giveaway to pickpocketers who will target you because you’re likely to have a lot of cash and expensive electronics!

Break Away from the Chain

Regardless if you’re traveling in your own country or abroad, you will most likely find a chain that you’re familiar with. Although it’s comforting to have some familiarity when you’re in an unfamiliar place, you’re actually not reaching the full potential of your trip by going to chain retailers. Break away from the chain by shopping and dining out at locally-owned stores and restaurants. This will provide you with a unique experience that truly reflects the local culture and style of the country you’re visiting.

Go During the Off-Season

If you’ve ever gone to any country during vacation season, then you know streets will be packed with locals and tourists alike. With so many people around, it can be hard to take in the true sights and sounds of the area. To solve this dilemma, try traveling during the off season. Not only will your travel experience be less crowded, but travel expenses will be cheaper as well! This website has just a small compilation of places to visit during their less popular months.

It’s Okay to Wander Aimlessly

Although it’s always important to see the traditional and historical landmarks everyone raves about, going on a scheduled tour can be stressful since you’re quickly being shuffled from place to place and you might not have enough time to admire your surroundings.

Do yourself a favor and travel stress-free by letting yourself wander — you’re on vacation, so you likely don’t have anywhere else to go! Put the map away and meander down city streets where few tourists venture to. You might find yourself discovering a delicious farmer’s market selling fresh and local food or a new, but incredible restaurant few tourists know about!

Robert “Bob” Heidersbach is the author of Metallurgy and Corrosion Control in Oil and Gas Production. The book is based on Robert’s experience teaching new engineers that need to understand metallurgy and corrosion control in the oil industry. He is currently in the process of rewriting and updating the publication, and welcomes any suggestions about how to improve the book. In his spare time, Bob enjoys kayaking, biking and traveling.