As the name of my website states I am an authentic girl, but also one who loves to travel authentic chic. But what is authenticity really and what do I mean with chic?
To me traveling authentic chic means that I always try to find elegant accommodations which are comfortable and sometimes luxurious. And I prefer accommodations which are original and characterize the heritage of their country.
But what is the real definition of ‘’authentic’’ anyways? I have read many articles debating the true meaning of the word and the miss-use of the definition, so to be clear, this is what the dictionary says it means:
having an origin
In this digital age where many things are curated and can feel fake, I feel it’s more important than ever to connect with others. Traveling and experiencing other cultures is much more than only visiting the famous sights and landmarks described in the travel guidebooks.
And there are many ways to experience a more genuine side of your destination and really get to know other cultures, without having to be a backpacker, sleep in home stays or stay with some remote hill tribe.
But on the other side luxury travel is often perceived the wrong way as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are different levels of luxury. I am not talking about the luxury type of all inclusive resorts with thousands of rooms, private beaches, drilled staff and buildings without character.
I am talking about the luxury of comfort, normal facilities, good service, nice locations and accommodations with authentic architectural features symbolizing the heritage of the country.
Traveling doesn’t have to be black or white! You can mix up both elements in my opinion and there are different ways to do this.
Hereby 10 tips on how to combine both:
1. Inform yourself and go with the flow
I love to be spontaneous, but I am also very curious by nature, so this comes naturally to me. But not everybody likes to plan in advance and some people just plan too much!
When you are NOT travelling the world and only have a few days or weeks to spend it can be practical to inform yourself about the country or city you are visiting in advance to find out what it generally has to offer. And most importantly where you really want to go and where NOT to go, so you can focus and explore a few areas more thoroughly.
After that remember also to go with the flow when there! Look for the areas you wanted to visit, but be open to your surroundings and the chances and experiences that come your way in the spur of the moment as well:
Met a local who invited you for coffee? Unique experience!
Don’t have enough time to see and visit all the areas and sights you had planned? Relax and stay longer in the spots you like the most.
Met some fellow travellers who said you really have to see this and that, although you read otherwise? Just try it!
2. The right preparation goes a long way
Again with the planning..I am not trying to say that you have to plan and book everything in advance, just make sure to use the right booking links, compare prices, check reviews and experiences of others, and look for inspiration on blogs and social media.
There is so much info out there nowadays and by knowing the right sites to use and the right platforms to look on, you will find many good deals, save money and find authenticity in a heartbeat.
I made a list of sites and booking links which I think work perfectly to find luxury stays for the best value for money incl. the best sites to get hindsight info and tips from fellow travellers and look for trustworthy reviews.
For authentic inspiration I look for blog topics about my destination, avoid the commercial sites and search Instagram by location or hashtag of the destination.
3. Focus on smaller accommodations and holiday homes
This may sound logical but not everybody knows this. People tend to think that booking on a budget means you have to stay in hostels, big commercial hotels or have to rent an AIRBNB. This can work out great but can also be risky sometimes and generally provides less comfort and privacy.
Instead I usually focus on boutique hotels, bungalows and holiday homes, you will find some reviews of my favourite and really unique accommodations here.
If you are open to share a pool or are fine with having no pool at all, you can find many affordable holiday homes which are quite luxurious and authentic.
If you are traveling in a bigger group these homes can become very affordable by sharing the rate. Or book off season when the prices can drop to half the rate!
Boutique hotels don’t have to be expensive at all, they often have short term offers and lower off season prices if you are flexible in booking dates.
4. Stay in more than 1 accommodation
Ok it is a bit more hassle, but if you are traveling somewhere for one week or more it really adds to your experience to book several accommodations in different locations.
This way you are naturally traveling around the city or country.
You will see and experience more of the different surroundings.
You can even get some short term discounts if you are willing to book the second or third accommodation on the spot.
5. Engage with locals and ask for tips
Especially as a couple it can be tempting to keep to yourselves and don’t interact to much with others on your well deserved holiday. But in order to learn more about the real culture of the country you must interact with locals.
Even the local taxi driver or locals working at your hotel will have so many nice and quaint tips, which you will not find in your travel guide books.
I found taxi drivers to be the best guides in many countries I visited.
6. Take your time
Like I said in #1 go with the flow while there.
Don’t be afraid to miss out and don’t try to visit too many sights in a short period of time. Make sure to relax and enjoy as well.
By walking around slowly and just sitting down somewhere to really take in your surroundings. This way you will get the chance to observe and experience the character and daily life of your destination.
7. Explore and wander
Go off the beaten path, visit the rural areas and smaller villages of the area and walk around the back streets.
I had my share of guided day trips as well, but I experienced that when you choose your own path and look around the corner more often, you will usually find the real gems and unspoilt spots.
A logical tip is to look for quaint restaurants and shops.
Avoid the big chain stores and restaurants, which are more commercial.
And always go to local markets, check out local festivals and just get lost sometimes!
8. Get cultural
This can be done by visiting the local festivals, but also by visiting the smaller expo’s and museums.
These usually characterize the culture of your destination better.
And a nice bonus is that you don’t have get in line for hours and they tend to be less crowded:)
9. Rent a bike
This always makes me feel like a local and helps me get connected with my location and surroundings.
Using public transport can do this for you as well, but I prefer to be outdoors during my travels as much as possible.
On foot or by bike you will be able to experience your surroundings to the max.
And last but not least, very important if you do book a tour:
10. Use trustworthy local agencies, look for walking tours guided by locals or volunteer.
Here are some good links to find these tours.
What's your experience with authentic chic traveling? Are you doing this already?
I would love to hear your opinion about this in the comments!
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