I often hear phrases like ‘off the beaten path’ or ‘discovering the less touristy’. Today taking the unusual road has become so popular that I think after a while the very idea of going off the beaten path will get clichéd. What I intend to talk about here is how to experience something different, yet simple in our regular tourist destinations – Shimla, Goa, Kerala or maybe Rajasthan and if we talk about international destinations – London, Paris or Switzerland.
To some extent, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to keep exploring something new or unique. Some people simply settle for a tried and tested holiday destination, which is fine. In no way, they are any less of a traveler. It’s actually the inquisitiveness in you that makes you explore a place and discover something unusual which others fail to notice.
Have you been to Shimla innumerable times and now looking for new destinations? How about reinventing an old town from a new perspective? I think when you look at a place from your own point of view and extract its uniqueness, certain traits, character, atmosphere or anything unexpected, that is when you really travel!
How to achieve that is what I have listed down (Also read my earlier post 5 Unexpected Things You Can Do On A Trip) –
Choose to stay at a guest house or a resort instead of a hotel
To begin with an unusual holiday, you need to figure out where you want to stay. A hotel stay is extremely clichéd. If you choose to stay at a spacious guest house or a resort, it gives you a whole new perspective of a place and adds a new meaning to your vacation.
Besides the resorts and guest houses, you can also look for an acquaintance who could welcome you for a stay. The idea is to feel at home and get away from the usual touristy hustle-bustle.
Try to stay in the midst of nature – avoid guest houses in the midst of a market.
|A secluded haven in the midst of nature|
Cook on your own
Yes, cooking is something that many people enjoy. If you are staying at a friend’s place, you can let the host relax and you can treat everybody with your specialty.
Most of the guest houses have a kitchen, where guests can cook on their own. We also stayed at a private guest house in Sattal, where we cooked on our own and it was so much fun!
You don’t need to go out for food. Simply dig in and enjoy the view from the window.
|Brew your own tea|
Skip visiting all the tourist hotspots
The first and foremost thing that you need to do in order to have an offbeat holiday is to skip all the tourist hotspots. Yes, that’s right! For instance, if you are in Shimla, forget about the Ridge and Mall Road or if you are in Mussoorie, don’t even bother to visit Kempty Falls or Lal Tibba.
If you have visited a hill station quite a few times, there’s nothing new to see as far as the tourist hotspots are concerned. So brush them aside and hunt for some new places – a new trek, a local market where you can pick your own groceries and also interact with hawkers or an old-age home maybe.
|Interact with street hawkers|
Spend time relaxing, listening to music and being quiet
Relaxation is at the heart of a holiday. So relax, listen to some good music and soak in the quietude of nature. Whether you are in Goa or Kerala, where tourists are all over the place, you can simply sit back at your own secluded haven and absorb the ambiance from a distance.
There is no need to rush or do exactly what others are doing. You can be yourself and still say that you have done what you were supposed to do.
|Soak in the quietude|
Visit a library or a book store
If you are fond of reading then you must explore a local library or a book store. Even if you are not much into reading, you can still give it a try. There is an old public library in Shimla on the Ridge, which may have something interesting in store for the reader in you!
The idea is not just to visit a book store or a library and come back if you are not an avid reader. Spending some time at such non-touristy places unfolds some hidden insights – the librarian could tell you some quirky anecdotes about the place, which a guide would not know!
So look for possibilities.
|Public Library in Shimla|
Make a video of your day
It’s not something new to make a video; it’s quite usual for tourists to record moments of their trips. However, making a video of an entire day spent as a local would be something endearing.
Start with morning tea and breakfast followed by a stroll and then a little bit of shopping, chitchats with local school children, shopkeepers and random people on the street (that’s completely up to you) followed by lunch, afternoon tea and evening bonfire or candle-lit dinner.
Watching such a video later will make you smile smugly.
|Capture your day as a local|
Wander and explore
Wandering has become quite a hackneyed term these days, but the true meaning of wandering is to be open for new paths. It is completely independent of tourist guides or even maps.
The real fun of wandering is when you just follow your heart and turn your feet on impulse. Well, it’s important to be careful and keep asking local people about the way. Such random wanderings will make you discover new restaurants, cafes or an excellent view for photography.
So, don’t shy away from rediscovering your favorite ‘touristy’ destination! Feel its texture, smell the air and take home its trademark essence.