Some travel to put a check in a little box, but many are in it for the immersion experience that can only be gained outside of your own element. Sampling the local cuisine is a good start and a neighborhood hangout is an invaluable resource for living like a local — at least for a few days.
Read up on the area
Chances are you chose your destination because something about it interested you. Before your trip, brush up on local customs and handmade talents. What are they known for? You can also look up local fair trade organizations that make sure items are made by real natives or artisans.
Explore the neighborhood
Get your bearings. One can pretty quickly tell which blocks or streets are directed at tourists who want a cheap shirt and a postcard. Look for more subtle displays and signs. You want to find places that you would shop if you lived there everyday. Be safe but venture a bit out of the main tourist zones.
Find a local pub or restaurant
Sit down with a local glass of beer or wine and strike up a friendly conversation with the server or bartender. Explain that you are here to get some local flavor and are interested in the real history. Most will be pleased that you are making an effort to avoid the obvious shopping.
As a quick example, while honeymooning in Edinburgh, we wanted to take a tour of the old city underground. There were at least a dozen tours that claimed to be the best, but living in a tourist town made us wary of slick brochures and costumed guides. We explained our situation to the friendly pub owner and said we wanted the least “cheesy” tour there was. With a knowing smile he directed us to one company. He was proud of his city and was pleased that we wanted a real experience.
Despite being Spain’s third-largest city behind Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia is considerably cheaper to visit as a tourist than the capital of Spain and the capital of Catalonia. If traveling on a budget, here are a few ways to stretch your euros in Valencia.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the largest airline in Japan. With flights from the United States to Japan and all of Asia, it's the perfect airline to book your next trip with. From ANA's amazing in-flight food to its excellent customer service, it comes as no surprise ANA has been awarded five stars for its seventh consecutive year by the SKYTRAX World Airline Rating.
Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city (behind Madrid and Barcelona), but, upon first glance, it doesn’t feel too intimidating in terms of size and noise. The unofficial gateway to Southern Spain is rich in Spanish culture, including lazy days by the sea, mountains of tapas and rivers of sangria.