As tourism becomes more and more of an industry, it can be challenging to feel as though you’re truly experiencing a place that you travel to. You head to an incredible historical site, but instead of being able to take your time to soak in that history and beauty, you’re surrounded by people snapping photos and pushing through to get closer to whatever everyone wants to see. While heading to traditional tourism sites can be enjoyable, more and more people are looking for opportunities to also experience countries and cities more like locals. Follow these tips to  make the most of your travel experiences; go see the main sites, but also learn to travel like a local and make unique memories.

Rent a place

Instead of staying at the most popular hotel, consider looking for a well-rated hostel or using a service like Airbnb to find a more local place to stay. You could even look at local rentals and find places you can rent for a weekend, a week, or however long you plan to stay. These types of rentals are usually in less congested areas and run by locals who can give you great tips for places to see and eat.

Strike up conversations

When you’re walking around or checking out local sites, don’t shy away from engaging people in conversations. Talk to the people who work at bars, cafes, and restaurants and ask them for their recommendations of what to do and see while in the area. People enjoy sharing their favorite places and talking about what makes their home so special.

Find a local forum

Before or during your trip, check out forums and online communities for the place you’ll be visiting. Feel free to ask for local suggestions on what to do and how to best experience where you’re traveling. Getting a feel for the place from an online community can help give you a lot of direction and great tips.

Create your own itinerary

Instead of going with a pre-packaged plan, consider creating your own itinerary. This way, you can make sure you get to see all the places you truly want to and find hidden gems without having to work those into a schedule that was created for you or involves a group of people.

Go for a random walk

Walking tours can be incredibly useful, but so can going on a walk on your own. Check out the neighborhood where you’re staying and wander around to take in the local scenery and culture. You could stumble across a charming place you want to try out or discover a lesser known attraction.

Do your research

Before you embark on your trip, do your research to discover what are the top places to see and what locals recommend. Make a plan for where you want to go while on your trip so you do not have to waste time deciding while you’re there or simply go along with what all the other tourists are doing. It’s also important to research the culture and safety of where you’re going so you can be respectful and avoid any issues while traveling.