Any city that you travel to in the world has its own unique charm. Whether it’s a beautifully famous city like Paris or a wonderfully modern city like Dubai or a culturally rich city like Tokyo, each place has something amazing to offer travelers. Just as any New Yorker hates the crowds of tourists in Times Square, most people that actually live in international cities stay far away from the tourist traps. And even as a tourist in these different cities, you should explore beyond the touristy parts of town as well. Here are ten legitimate reasons that you should get intentionally lost in every city that you travel to:
10 You’ll See The Non-Touristy Part Of Town
Parisians don’t climb the Eiffel Tower, New Yorkers avoid Times Square like the plague, and Sydneysiders don’t take photos in front of the Opera House. As great as it is to sometimes delve into your dorkiest touristy side, it is also great to explore the non-touristy parts of any city you visit. There is so much more to these great cities than just their tourist attractions. In true local fashion, hop on a bike and get lost along the canals of Amsterdam and step off the map in Bangkok. Lose yourself in the maze of the old city of Barcelona and wander the residential side of Beijing. Wherever you travel, snap that money shot at the biggest attractions and then leave them behind you so you can lose yourself in the real heart of the city where the locals sweat, breath and live every day.
9 You Can Explore The Local Commute
In every city in the world, there is some way for people to get around. Some cities have fancy and luxurious infrastructure to take you from place to place while others have less sophisticated methods for transport. However the locals do it, hop on the local transportation for a ride. Riding the native subway or bus or collective taxi system will help you to better understand the way people live there. Sit beside the truest of locals and strike up a conversation and then lose yourself in the city as you pick any random stop to hop off and explore some more.
8 You'll Hear And See The Local Language
When you’re in a foreign country, you certainly want it to feel that way. If people who speak your native language are constantly surrounding you, you won’t feel so far from home. So, get lost. Step off the beaten track and brush up on your language skills (or, at least, sign language skills!). Try to order your meal in the local tongue. Tell your taxi driver where you’re headed using your phone’s translator. Open your eyes and “read” the signs in the local language. Lose yourself in a foreign world to grow and expand your own.
7 You Can Explore The Unexpected Places Not In The Travel Guide
Travel guides are great. They introduce us to a place we otherwise know nothing about. They help you up off your feet and point you in the right direction to go. But, make no mistake, travel guides are certainly no bible. As a tourist, you should absolutely spend at least one day in a new city when you leave the travel guide at home and explore on your own. Forget the maps and the recommendations and wander off to find your own best local hangouts to recommend to your friends when they go to visit the same city.
6 You Find The Best Street Art
It is no secret that cities are playgrounds for some of the best artists in the world. Street artists and street performers tend to gather in cities to share and grow in their respective arts. Getting lost in any city will open your eyes to a new world of artistry. Soak in all of the imaginative graffiti and take a pause to listen to the talented buskers on the street. Throw some coins into the street performers’ basket and watch the talent come to life. Getting lost in a city will show you some of its hidden talents and its most creative side.
5 You Stumble Upon The Best Nightlife
Being in a foreign country in an exotic city surrounded by people that may as well have grown up in your hometown is not super exciting. To really get a feel for and explore a city, you need to get lost away from all the other tourists. Unless you’re hoping to get stuck on a bar crawl with your neighbor, go out and explore the city in unlikely places. Ask for recommendations at your hostel or hotel or meet up with your new local friends to find the best nightlife around to party all night long in true local fashion.
4 You Get To Meet The People Who Actually Live There
The best part of travel is always meeting new, interesting, and unique people. Traveling to a foreign country with a foreign culture is especially eye opening to explore how the rest of the world lives. Learn a new language, taste a new food or just laugh and explore with a new friend as you blindly wander the streets of a city that you are unfamiliar with. Instead of meeting only the tour guides, when you intentionally get lost in a city you travel to, you open the door to the opportunity to meet so many people that you would not have otherwise encountered. So go out and explore and makes lots of new friends (that also know the best places in town to check out!).
3 You Will Find The Best Local Food
No New Yorker would ever be caught dead eating in Times Square. So why should you, as a tourist, eat there? Not only is the quality of food much lower, but the prices are also much higher. The same rings true for any city you visit. If you want to find the best local eats with the most local-friendly prices, wander off the beaten path. Go lose yourself in the city to explore some of its best-kept secrets. Ask a native for a great recommendation or stumble upon the most unassuming but best smelling restaurant for miles. Pick your food straight off the street from a vendor or dine with your newfound local friends. However you get there, be sure that you are far away from all the tourist traps.
2 You Get A Feel For The City
We all know the Berlin Wall does not define that dynamic city. St. Basil’s Cathedral is just a tiny piece of Moscow. The Little Mermaid Statue of Copenhagen is so small that it makes you question how it is so famous. Big Ben is just a clock to Londoners and the Hagia Sofia is nothing more than a museum to the natives of Istanbul. So why is it that tourists spend all of their time in these magnificent cities exploring these sensationalized monuments and sites? Of course, they are all well worth the visit, but when exploring a city there is so much more than the tourist sites. When traveling, definitely get lost to really get a feel for the vitality of any city you visit.
1 You’ll Build Your Own “Google Maps” In Your Head
Any city native doesn’t need a map to know where they’re going. Of course, as a visitor in a foreign land, you likely will. But, if you explore and wander far enough, you’ll really start to understand the layout of a city. Memorize the grid system of New York or understand the rings of Paris. Learn the parallel streets that run through Hong Kong or wherever you may choose to explore. Study the map and then leave it behind as you walk out and wander getting lost in the magic that every city holds. Create a map within your own mind using landmarks to help identify your way and just enjoy the sensation of not knowing what’s coming next.