Tourist vs. World Explorer

As a self-proclaimed world explorer, I believe it to be very different from the word tourist. Tourists wait and save for their next trip. World explorers will find an adventure in just about anything.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a tourist; it all comes down to a choice of lifestyle. Yet, I think world explorers have more fun (I may be a tad biased). When you don’t know what the next day will bring, life is truly an adventure. When you keep an open mind and have a positive attitude, every adventure is a good adventure. With that in mind, if you want to live life as a world explorer, here are some ways to do that:

Blend in, don’t stand out. Visit this page this may the only time you ever hear this, but it pays to fit in when travelling. Looking like you belong makes you less of a target for theft.  Act as a local. Your looks may give you away sometimes, but the goal is to look like a foreigner living in said place. If someone asks you for directions, you know you’re doing it right.

Book trips based on last-minute deals, not on dream ideas. You never know where life will take you. Your favorite destination may prove to be a place you haven’t even heard of yet.

Avoid souvenirs. Souvenirs are tempting. Souvenirs are pretty. But trust me: the moment you get home, you’ll forget about your dinky key chain or t-shirt. If you want an item to remember your adventure by, choose a unique item: a handmade piece or something you wouldn’t find elsewhere. I like to get handmade clothes or jewelry when I travel. My parents collect unique instruments.

Don’t rush your trip. Take the time to slot machines online absorb the culture of each place you visit. Read my post on unique ways to discover any city you visit. Life isn’t a competition to see who has traveled the most. Focus on the quality of each adventure.

Back home, I was reliant on a sense of familiarity. When you live in a place for a long time you start to get comfortable. You have your favorite spots, your go-to people, and a safety net. When I came to New Zealand, I didn’t have that so more than ever before, I relied on myself. It’s kind of like re-starting in a sense — I needed to work at building new relationships and learning my way around a different city and country. But there’s something really exciting about the unfamiliar — new places represent possibilities.

Unique ways to explore a city

Set aside the guidebooks and consider exploring your next destination in a whole new way. The guidebooks will only tell you the bare minimum, but when you explore a city like a local, you get a feel for the culture.

Couch surfing. If you’re visiting a city for the first time, chances are, the only knowledge you’ll have is straight from a guidebook. A good Couch surfing host will not only provide a place to stay, but will also let you in on all of the secrets. They may even show you around.

Visit a local market. Nothing beats talking to a local artisan about their handmade work, or walking down the street eating a bag of fresh cherries. Visiting any kind of market is a great way to experience the city like a local.

Go to an event in the city you’re visiting. Sites like Event tribe are great ways to find out about local events, and many of them are free.

Plan your own tour. Choose a specific thing you want to explore, like graffiti walls or themed coffee shops. Some things are site-specific; for instance: next time I’m in London, I plan on tracking down the Seven Noses of Soho.

Volunteer. I once made the mistake of paying an obscene amount of money to volunteer in Guatemala (which didn’t work for many reasons) but there are ways to donate your time, and not your money. W Woofing is perhaps the most known way to do it: you work on an organic farm anywhere in the world, in exchange for food and a roof over your head.

Get lost. Get on the first bus, headed in any direction, and get lost in the city. You’ll get to see snippets you may not otherwise see, and can challenge yourself in finding your way back with no map.

Although the make the most of every day motto is a cliché and every English teacher, I’ve ever had would probably throw something at me for using it, I think it’s important. That’s the thing with clichés — maybe they’re not terrible, just overused because there’s some truth to them. Anyways, where I’m going with this is that every day has so much potential. When I go to bed, I like to feel like I lived up to the potential of that day. Five months may seem like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t. Before long, I’ll be back on a plane headed home to the land of the glorious and free. Until then, I plan on climbing more mountains, meeting more wonderful people, and going on many more adventures.

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