When you plan a vacation to a major destination, guidebooks are typically full of ideas for popular spots to visit. As any local will tell you, however, tourist destinations are rarely the real heart of the city. On your next trip, instead of planning your trip around well-known attractions, go out of your way to find historic places that have shaped the town’s local culture.
Traveling to an unfamiliar part of the country—or another country altogether—can be a little intimidating. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. Protecting yourself while you’re vacationing is important: be sure that your valuables are secure, whether they’re in your hotel room you’re carrying them with you. And if you’re traveling outside of the country, be sure to secure travelers’ health coverage like Atlas insurance before you leave.
Guidebooks can point you in the direction of the most popular historic sites, but beyond that, it’s up to you to do some research and find the places that will be most exciting to visit. Search online before you leave for vacation and, along with ticking items off your vacation checklist, come up with a preliminary list of places you want to see. Start with the ones that interest you most, but don’t be surprised if something at the bottom of your list becomes all you talk about once you’re back home.
Chat up visitors and personnel at the sites you choose to get recommendations for similar places you may be interested in seeing. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t see everything during your trip. Just make a note to visit the following year.
When you visit each historic building or site, make an effort to understand why it’s so important to the city or country’s history. Read what you can about its time period and importance and consider the perspective of the people who experienced it then. For example, if you are at an old village church, note its architecture and think about the people who constructed it. Think about the parishioners who used the space to celebrate or mourn and the sense of community created by everyone who frequented the space. As with any of your destinations, take plenty of photos to help you remember, but make sure you also experience the site without a camera in front of you.
Responding to your trip
Your experience of visiting historic places doesn’t have to end when your vacation does. You may find that you return home with a lot of information to process, especially if the sites you chose were well off the beaten path. Consider taking a journal with you to make notes about what you saw for future visits or to write an accurate blog post when you get home. Look into the history of the sites you visited. Learn more about building design from a specific time period to understand why this historic site is important to present-day commerce or culture. Your trip might even encourage you to see your own city in a new light and investigate historic buildings with a property search or a visit to the city records hall.
Including historic places in the itinerary for your next vacation will give you a more well-rounded perspective of the place than just visiting the main tourist sites would. Although a bus tour or visit to the biggest modern attractions can be fun, these often gloss over the centuries of history and leave you with a shallow perspective of what the destination is actually like. Think like a historian or investigator to unearth some interesting destinations to visit and explore a new way to experience a popular destination.