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August 20, 2013

Get Off the Beaten Path

When traveling abroad be sure to stay away from touristy places as much as possible. Camouflaging yourself as a local might be the best thing you do for your language learning

Beaten path Most language learners want to travel abroad and practice their hard-earned language skills in a particular country. Travelling is a wonderful idea especially if it is planned as a long vacation. Short trips abroad can be relaxing and very fun, but if your idea is to pick up slang or new words in your target language longer vacations are recommended.

It is very tempting and fun to go sightseeing and visit places and restaurants where tourists frequently go. By all means if you do have a trip abroad coming up do those things. However, and this is my tip of the day, make sure you allocate enough time during your trip to “live as a local”.

Going off the beaten path (beaten by tourists) will allow you to experience the land as natives and locals do. Several advantages arise as a result of this. The two most important ones from my view are:

1. Language
Mingle with locals Assuming you want to improve your language skills this is a great idea. The traveller will mingle with locals at non-tourist places where language is spoken in its true form. It will be more difficult for you to stray to your native tongue instead forcing you to communicate in your target language. The other advantage is that you most probably will pick up some slang or new words, which will enable you to speak more like locals do.

You will find that by the end of the trip you feel more confident in your language skills and more adventurous.

2. Food
Local food There are gastronomic and financial benefits for getting off the beaten path here. Tourists more often than not get charged a premium at tourist places/restaurants and believe it or not the food is not always what you expect. You want to experience local food at local prices? Find out what areas in the city are less frequented by tourists and more by locals and go there. What you will find is the true cuisine of that country being cooked and enjoyed by the natives.

There is something to be said about the fun you have as a tourist at popular places and all the paraphernalia that those activities entail, especially the ones tailored to tourists at restaurants and bars. But you can experience the local culture and cuisine in its purity by staying away from touristy restaurants.

There are certainly worthy touristy attractions and places to visit at your chosen destination. But if you really want to take advantage of your journey do yourself a favor and try to be as local as possible, at least for a while.

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