Have you ever been excited about a trip, only to find that it didn't live up to your high expectations? Have you ever tried to recall the best part of a vacation you took a few years ago and found that you didn't really remember much—that it was all a blur? Have vacations to different cities started to seem all the same to you? If so, you may need some help making your next vacation one to remember. Take a look at some tips that will help you get the most out of your next vacation, no matter where you go.
See the Real City
One of the biggest mistakes that tourists make is sticking to tourist sites, tourist entertainment, and tourist restaurants. The best way to get a real feel for any city is to go where the locals go. Oh, and it will help if you actually meet some locals along the way.
Start by traveling like a local. Skip the cab and take a city bus, train, or other public transportation where you're likely to run into people. Don't be afraid to strike up conversations or at least ask for a restaurant recommendations. Shop at stands or stores owned and operated by local merchants, and ask what's fun to do in town. If you are traveling to a foreign country, make an effort to learn at least a little of the language ahead of time, and then use it when you're there.
When you eat, avoid chain restaurants, and don't order "safe" dishes. Try out the local fare, whatever it happens to be. Take a walk and let yourself get a little lost; this is a fun way to discover a fun cafe or pub that you never would have found otherwise. It doesn't matter whether the city you're visiting is Paris or Peoria; you'll come away feeling like you've learned something new and really experienced the city if you make an effort to find out what's great about it besides the tourist attractions.
Make Your Memories Tangible
Photos and videos are great, and taking plenty of pictures or videos is a must on any vacation. However, it may not be enough to help you remember the best parts of your trip. Carry a journal and a pen with you so that you can write down anything you want to remember that can't be captured on film while it's still fresh in your mind. Describe the taste of a local delicacy or recount an interesting conversation that you had. The act of writing these experiences down will help cement them in your mind, and when you go back through the journal, the vivid descriptions will help bring the memories back.
Speaking of tangible memories, choose your souvenirs carefully. A t-shirt or a shot glass that you could buy anywhere isn't going to help you remember the city just because it has the city's name emblazoned on it. Steer clear of gifts shops stuffed full of items that you can get anywhere. Look for flea markets, art shops featuring local artists, and clothing shops featuring local designers. Buying something locally made will more likely get you something unique and will help you remember what you enjoyed about the city you visited. You'll also be supporting the local economy, which is always a plus.
If you're nervous about exploring the city on your own or just want a shortcut to some of the best spots, consider using a tourist guide service that employs local guides. A good guide can fill you in on the local color and help you find what you're looking for to make your vacation a memorable one. Visit sites such as http://funexcursionsinabox.com to find a guide service that is a good fit for you.