4 Ways to Avoid Tourist Traps

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It’s no secret that there is a tourist stereotype. Wide-eyed, map-bearing, American-flag wearing visitors are easy to pick out in other countries. Tourism forces around the world have picked up on this stereotype and have pounced with their sales tactics, eager to make the most money off of foreign visitors. If you have any desire to keep your money in your pockets, you should stay far away from these schemes. Here are four ways to avoid tourist traps during your travels.

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1. Be Wary of Major Tourist Sites.

When you travel to a new place, of course you’ll want to pay a visit to all the popular sites. However, beware that these attractions are a major playing ground for tourist traps. Restaurants, shops, and tours will typically be overpriced in the general vicinity of any tourist attraction. Besides being overpriced, these venues often lose cultural authenticity in an attempt to keep up with the tourism industry. If you know what to look for, it’s usually easy to pick out these tourist traps. In general, if restaurant staff is lining the streets, desperately trying to convince you to check out their menus, you should probably keep walking. Additionally, restaurant menus that have a lot of pictures and are translated into many languages are typically directed towards tourists and will lead to overpriced meals. As you are shopping, if you start to notice similar merchandise in nearby shops, the products will most likely be cheaper quality, overpriced, and inauthentic. In regards to city tours, you should be careful of people on the street trying to sell you a tour package. These street tours can be overpriced, and they may not even be legitimate.

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2. Research and Plan Ahead.

In order to avoid these tourist traps, it is important to research and plan ahead. Look into the local restaurants and shops to familiarize yourself with a couple venues and have a few ideas of what to look for beforehand. Trip Advisor can be a good resource to start your research, as it offers many reviews from previous travelers, but always take advice with a grain of salt. Try to plan the tours that you want to go on ahead of time. This is almost always a better option than paying for a last-minute tour you find on the street.

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3. Get a Professional or Local Opinion.

One way to ensure that you don’t fall into tourist traps is to get opinions from others. Locals are often more than happy to give you recommendations of where to shop, eat, and have fun in their native cities. Asking hotel staff, taxi drivers, or someone you meet in a café for their favorite places can lead to unique experiences that will help you get a real taste of the culture. Additionally, Airbnb offers several resources such as their Guidebooks and Experiences options, which offer unique opportunities and local recommendations from Airbnb hosts. Another great way to get recommendations is to consult a travel planning company that specializes in creating memorable and authentic travel experiences such as Once in a Lifetime Travel!

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4. Travel Off the Beaten Path.

One of the best ways to avoid tourist traps is to travel off the beaten path. Wander away from the major attractions without a map or an agenda, and you are sure to find many hidden treasures. Some of my favorite memories and experiences have come from getting lost and stumbling upon restaurants and shops by accident. Choose to immerse yourself in the culture by visiting local farmer’s markets and cafés in neighborhoods far away from the typical tourist attractions. Doing so will provide you with a culturally rich and unforgettable experience.

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Following these tips to avoid tourist traps will help you save money, prevent frustration, and create an authentic experience for your next trip. ~ Kalina Davis

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