How To Get Off the Beaten Path

off the beaten path

When you find yourself in a stifling crowd of people snapping photos of the (much smaller than expected) Mona Lisa, you may feel called to get off the beaten path. There is a reason many destinations draw hordes of people, but sometimes you just want to enjoy a new place and create your own adventure rather than follow a guidebook and get the exact same experience that countless others have had.

But how? If you research where to go and what to do, aren’t you inevitably relying on guidebooks and other tourists? Unless you can find a local’s online journal somewhere, your best bet is going to be…just go. We have a few tips to help you get off the beaten path, and on to an amazing adventure that is yours alone to experience.

Wander

The easiest way to get off the beaten path is to wander aimlessly. Choose a direction and go, with no destination in mind. If you’ve taken the public transportation in your destination, get off at the neighborhood that looks intriguing to you and walk around. Use common sense and be aware of what neighborhoods to avoid, but otherwise explore freely, with no place you must get to and no expectations.

Off the beaten path
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Travel by your own power

Driving, biking, or by foot, you will open your options up if you have full control of how you move through the world. Spend an afternoon driving through the countryside on small roads to discover small towns you didn’t know about. Bike outside the city center to get a feel for what it’s like to actually live there. And of course, walk the winding, narrow streets to stumble upon gems of shops and eateries.

Off the beaten path
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Use a map

But didn’t I say to wander? Another way to get off the beaten path is to not tread the tourist trail to begin with. Instead of heading to Paris and wandering until you find a quiet neighborhood, try going to a town where you’ll need to brush up on your French in order to read the menu.

Get your map out, and choose a country or region that you are interested in visiting. Then, cross off all the places you’ve heard of. What’s left is likely lesser-visited destinations that will give you an authentic view of the destination. Of course, this is a gamble on it’s own, as there may be good reason why people are not visiting this area. So do a little bit of research before you jet off to ensure you’ll be both safe and satisfied with your trip. Or don’t, and let the adventure take you where it will!

Grab a map and get off the beaten path
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Locals know best

The people who know the best places to go are usually the people who live there. Want to see the coolest vintage barware known to man? That’s not even something I knew I needed in my life, but after passing it so often while living in the DC metro area, I know that you should definitely pay a visit to The Hour. In fact, you should spend an entire day in Alexandria, VA next time you visit Washington, DC. Most people wouldn’t know that, and I highly doubt it is in any guidebooks about visiting the nation’s capital. Why would it be, when there are so many other things to see as well? A local’s perspective can easily point you towards hidden treasures that you really wouldn’t be able to find on your own.

Let locals tell you how to get off the beaten path
Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Follow your hobbies

What better way to get off the beaten path than to let your hobbies lead the way? Look up local sites that relate to your interests and see what you can get involved in. I’m obsessed with pencils and paper, so I usually look up stationary shops when I explore new cities to see what they have to offer. I also enjoy yoga and muay thai and can usually find a few gyms to visit. This is a great way to not only get off the beaten path, but to make new friends.

Get off the beaten path
Photo by Amy Rollo on Unsplash

We would love to hear about the great adventures you’ve had exploring off the beaten track. Join the Companach Facebook Group today to share your story and meet other intrepid women travelers!