Why you shouldn’t be ashamed to be a tourist

Living like a local and travelling off-the-beaten-track have become popular travel trends in recent years, encouraging people to become travellers over being a tourist. There are arguments that by immersing yourself into the local community you get a more satisfying vacation, that it provides you with a better experience by avoiding over-crowded tourist attractions and only shopping at farmers markets.

It seems that being a tourist has become cheesy. I have been guilty of thinking this, at times I didn’t want to get my camera out when I saw something interesting for the fear of looking stupid. However, looking back I realised this was a big mistake.

Now I’m not saying only visit tourist traps! I think we can have it both ways. There’s nothing wrong with seeing the highlights of a new destination whilst enjoying the local culture.

Here are my do’s and don’ts for effectively living like a local whilst being a tourist.

Don’t miss out on the big attractions and sights

You wouldn’t go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower, would you? Whilst it may be tempting to avoid the crowds, there are reasons tourist attractions are popular: they are often beautiful. Rise early to dodge large masses of people or if you can, travel out of school holidays. But, don’t be ashamed of seeing the sights.

For example, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of top attractions in Nova Scotia. It’s visited by masses of people each year. When we went in October it was difficult to get a picture without everyone else in the frame. However, visiting in January there were far less people.

Do rent an apartment

Air Bnb is making it extremely easy to achieve this one.  Renting a holiday home or apartment gives you incredible freedom, you can leave the bed unmade and clothes on the floor without feeling guilty when housekeeping comes knocking.  In addition, many Air Bnb hosts leave detailed information of their favourite places to visit as well as maps for you to use.

Floating Home (8).JPG

My Favourite Air Bnb was a floating home in Vancouver

Don’t forget to visit your local tourist office

If your hosts haven’t left you a few maps, then one of the first places to visit when exploring somewhere new is the tourist information office.  Not only will they have information on the local area they often have discounts and vouchers.

Saskatchewan (14)

Cutest Tourist information center I’ve seen!

I like to collect maps from tourist information centres as souvenirs and to use in scrapbooks when I get home and have the holiday blues.

Do use public transport

If you want to do as the locals do, then public transport is the way. You often see streets you wouldn’t travel down on transit routes so it’s a clever way of going off the beaten tourist track. It also tends to be more cost effective than getting a taxi or uber. Do a little research before you leave on where to buy tickets and passes as well as where stops are to ensure a smooth journey.

Don’t be scared to take photo’s

Sometimes you don’t want to stand out as a tourist by whipping out your camera and snapping at everything you see. But I say go ahead! We tend to take pictures of things we see beauty in, which is nothing to be ashamed of. My parents have a huge box of photographs from family holidays that I love to paw through every now and again. You are making memories, so snap away!

Do visit the local grocery store or market

This is by far one of my favourite ways of indulging in local life. Roaming around the neighbourhood store and trying all the delicacies is always fun. I enjoy seeing the deli counter as there is always something different in each country (and sometimes free samples!) Plus, you never know what bargains you might find, for example 1 euro beers in Lidl!

Don’t go to Mc Donald’s

Yes, they are everywhere and yes, they are convenient, but I would suggest avoiding them. I can eat these at home, so I try to steer clear of the Big Mac whilst exploring. I know sometimes, around bigger attractions food can get expensive and this is when the lure of Mc Donald’s is strong. Instead have a look around and see if there is somewhere you haven’t eaten before. You don’t have to avoid chains all together, as I’ve commented before, I’ve enjoyed visiting fast food restaurants you can’t get in the UK. A&W, Tim Hortons and In & Out have been great alternatives to Mc Donald’s without breaking the bank.

Do you prefer being a traveller or a tourist? Or like me do you like a bit of both?






24 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t be ashamed to be a tourist

  1. Leah says:

    The mix is the best for me. My partner and I like to live like locals, doing the slow travel thing while house sitting and staying in one place for weeks at a time. Other times, it’s AirBnBs, tourist attractions, hop on-hop off buses, and eating in restaurants (am I the only one who still uses TripAdvisor? I do, and I like it a lot).
    Oh, and I’m totally with you about McDonald’s (unless I’m desperate for wifi, then I might cave, because: easy).


  2. Tif says:

    This is such a good post!! I agree that you can’t be ashamed of being a tourist!! I do enjoy feeling like a local but also love being a tourist and seeing the local spots as well!!


  3. Seeking the Spanish Sun says:

    I totally still class myself as a tourist. When I go to a new place im straight in the tourist office grabbing maps! It’s a shame people seem to turn their noses up at going to the local attractions but I also understand that some popular sights are just too busy now. I think we really need to be careful to travel responsibly, not overcrowd places and create negative tourism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • airmailadventures says:

      Definitely, the maps are my favourite! Totally agree about trying not to have a negative impact on places, it fustrates me so much when i see people not put their litter in the bin, go beyond barriers or touch things they shouldn’t we need to keep places nice so everyone can enjoy! Thanks for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. fromtoddlertotraveler says:

    I really loved this post. You’re absolutely right–sometimes there is this pressure not to be “touristy” but don’t we travel to see the things we’ve heard about? Sometimes I even like being a tourist in my own city; I see it in a whole new perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • airmailadventures says:

      Exactly, we often go because an amazing place has been recommended to us and because there is something great to see/do there! I love exploring my own town too, we often forget about the joys of what’s near to us! Thanks for reading 😊


  5. Boarding Call says:

    To be honest, I can’t be bothered with either term! I always think, who cares is you are a tourist or traveler, as long as you’re enjoying yourself 🙂 Nice post – and I agree, people shouldn’t be ashamed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • airmailadventures says:

      Yes, I agree enjoying yourself is the main thing for sure! Currently IM either neither or both as I’m on a working holiday visa in Canada, I’m living here but all do all the touristy things as I’ve never seen them before! Thanks for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Teja says:

    I miles prefer to be a traveller!! They are not comparable experiences! But to ‘Travel’ requires quite a bit more preparation and time away. For short breaks, I’m cool with being somewhat a tourist. There’s no shame in that. But even then, I still have my traveller habits with me – still curious, still reflective, still open to change and veer off to pursue random leads.

    What I do consider shameful though, whether you’re in traveller or tourist mode, is if you’re doing it unsustainably. That’s a more important point than whether you’re out for an immersive experience or a highlight tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carly says:

    Spot on. I tend to have the same snobbery with group tours, you know the ones that follow around a person with an umbrella in the air telling them everything they need to ‘know’ about a site before moving onto the next? I need to shift my mindset there, I think!

    Loved the pic of your air bnb in Vancouver – looks so quirky!

    Liked by 1 person

    • airmailadventures says:

      I know what you mean, i think it depends how you like to travel. My parents love the organisation of a group tour whereas I like to wander a bit more freely. I do have to admit the group tours I did with my parents recently in Alaska were amazing though so might be worth giving them a try! The air bnb in Vancouver was amazing, it was one of the floating homes so totally unique experience! Thanks for reading 😊


  8. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom says:

    I love this! What’s the point of going somewhere famous you’ve never been if you don’t go see the must-visit sites? Being a tourist is cool! Just as long as you’re one of the obnoxious ones haha

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Renata Green - www.byemyself.com says:

    This is a really good advice. I think the advantage of being as old as I am is that you don’t care so much what the standards are and which crowd you should belong to. I travel a lot and met many of these young ‘ambitious’ travellers…I mean, travelling should be all joy and pleasure – why label everything even here?!

    Liked by 1 person

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