Spring has sprung and it’s time to beat cabin fever with a trip to paradise. If you don’t want to stand out as a tourist, or be mistaken for a rowdy co-ed, keep these five strategies in mind to blend in with the locals.
Dress the Part
You’re not going to fool anyone if you hit the local sandy-floored watering hole wearing dress shoes and a polo. Loosen up a little and dress like a local. Beach style isn’t a tough art to master if you observe a couple fundamental principles where functional comfort meets carefree style. You can look polished and relaxed at the same time if you know where to go for appropriate threads.
It’s time to get on island time. Forget your crazy itineraries. You don’t need to do everything. You just need to soak up the joy of the experience. Soothe those aching feet with a walk by the sea or a margarita by the pool. If you know how to chill, you won’t attract unwanted attention for your out-of-towner status.
Local entrepreneurs put up with the hordes because it benefits them economically. But if you can take the impatient, inflexible city-slicker thing down a notch, you can be good for their souls as well as their wallets. Besides basic human decency, it’s to your advantage to keep the people who serve you feeling good. They’ll tip you off to experiences you’d miss out on if you show the more uptight aspect of your personality. Business owners, service providers, craftspeople, these are all awesome resources for unique activities to try while you’re in town. Being nice reaps rewards—and earns you karma points, too!
Get Outside Tourist Town
Every spring-break town has its establishments full of hungover college kids and obnoxious tourists. But you needn’t let yourself be herded to those corrals. Make an effort to try something beyond the standard party town fare. Obvious signs that locals favor a place: they attract an eclectic mix of beach bums, after-work professionals, elderly and families. There’s nothing homogenized about these hidden gems. It can take time and effort to discover them, but you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Develop a Sense of Adventure
Sometimes year-rounders like to put visitors through a bit of an initiation to determine whether they’re truly worthy of becoming honorary locals. Suck it up and try that crazy hot hot sauce that’ll earn you a blistered tongue and serious street cred. Participate in the moonlight ritual. Do whatever you have to to show you’re game for anything.
Talk to Everyone
Put down your phone and do some real social networking. Meeting the people around you makes any trip more fun. Don’t discriminate, either. From your waiter to the dude waiting with you for a bus downtown, everybody’s got a story to tell, and potentially, a great tidbit for you. You don’t have to come right out and beg for travel advice. Starting a natural conversation will get you more traction. Broadening your perspective helps you squeeze the best experience out of your vacay.