Spontaneity Quotient on Your Next Trip

Nothing against relaxing on beachfront daybeds or doing the cathedral-monument-museum circuit, but for travellers like me (and, I’m guessing, like some of you) the ideal vacation is one that combines relaxation and sightseeing with unexpected finds down narrow streets, lively conversations with surprising locals and wrong exits leading to hidden treasures.

Alas, such experiences are not sold online. It takes good fortune to stumble across the Montana farm stand with the juiciest peaches imaginable, a Swedish farmer who invites you to his Beatles-loving friend’s home for music and whiskey, or the Albanian seaside restaurant owner who dares you to come back at 6 a.m. to fish for the next day’s catch.

Those are my serendipity-aided stories and you can’t have them, but it’s easy enough to create your own. Serendipity is essentially a synonym for good luck, but it’s hardly random. “The harder you work, the luckier you get,” golfers like to say. Good news for globe-trotters: No need to put in hours at the tourism range to lower your travel handicap. A few largely effortless adjustments can up your serendipity game.

You can’t force a local to chat, as I’ve found out on many an uncomfortable bus ride. But you can stack the odds in your favour by visiting countries, regions or cities where you don’t have to. My top travel axiom: The fewer visitors a place gets, the more eager locals are to talk with them. To put it another way, you’re unlikely to befriend a Parisian who lives a block from the Eiffel Tower. (Unless he’s got skin in the tourism game: souvenir sellers worldwide are more than happy to be chummy.)

Where crowds are sparse, or at least not Venice-level oppressive, locals are often just as curious about visitors as visitors are of them. So wherever you’re itching to go, consider alternatives that may not be as flashy but have just as much to offer, minus the crowds. Sardinia over Tuscany; Kuélap, Peru, over Machu Picchu; Algeria over Morocco.

You can apply the same principle within a popular destination. As a New Yorker, I instinctively flee from sidewalk-clogging clumps of tourists in midtown Manhattan. But across the East River in my culinarily blessed neighbour hood of Jackson Heights, Queens, it’s a different story. When I recently spotted a youth group from the Midwest gawking at the South Asian shops and food stands on 74th Street, I practically pounced on them. Where are you all from? Why are you here? Where are you going next? How may I help?

About mouton 30 Articles
The author of this article is an award-winning writer who is passionate about Diet & Nutrition, Dentistry, Surgical Treatments, Medicine & Treatments, Lifestyle, Pet Animals, and Travel. He expresses his views regularly through his blog.

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