5 Tips for Going off the Beaten Path When Traveling

Have you ever considered going off the beaten path when you travel? “Going off the beaten path” can mean different things to different people. For my family, it’s simply escaping the crowds and exploring spots that are somewhat less touristy. This doesn’t mean that we skip the tried-and-true tourist stops, it just means that we try to find attractions that may not be in most travel guides.  

Here are a few tips for going off the beaten path when traveling.

Do your research

Do Your Research

Whether you’re planning a camping trip, a volunteer expedition or a tour of a foreign city, it’s important to learn as much as you can about your destination before you get there. No matter where you want to go in the world, find articles that tell you what the most popular tourist attractions are, as well as those that are less well-known. If you’re traveling to a foreign country, it’s also a great idea to learn about the history and culture of the place you plan to visit. Read up on local customs, traditions and holidays. Learning about your destination will help you show respect for the place you are visiting, and it will give you a better idea of what to explore when you get there. The more you do your research, the more beautiful places you'll discover.

During our trip to Cancun, Mexico, we made it a point to stay in Akumal, a less crowded part of the city located about 45 minutes away from the Cancun hotel zone. We learned that Chichen Itza and Tulum were the most commonly visited Mayan ruins sites in the area. However, we also found out that the Mayan ruin Coba, about 60 miles east, was less crowded and had more shade. We also discovered that visitors can still climb the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, which is the tallest one on the Yucatan Peninsula. We made sure to add this to our list.

Get advice from the locals

Get Advice from the Locals

Don’t be scared to talk to the locals.  This is a great way to hear about the location’s best-kept secrets, top places to eat and tips on navigating the area. Years ago, when we visited St. Croix, we became very friendly with our taxi driver. We asked him about his favorite places to eat and he raved about a food truck that was a popular lunch spot for the locals. We asked him to take us there. When we arrived, there was a long line of people, but the line moved quickly. It was worth the wait. The food was delicious.  

Take Public Transportation or Rent a Car

We found that the best way to visit Coba in Mexico was to either take public transportation or rent a car. We opted for the public transportation route, but still had to take a taxi to bring us to our destination because the buses did not travel that far. Using public transportation or renting a car when visiting a new place is a great way to see lesser-known attractions and experience the local lifestyle.

Learn the Language

Learning a bit of the native language will help you navigate local transportation and negotiate good deals for places to stay and eat. It’s also important to know some useful phrases just in case there is an emergency and you need help. Knowing a few phrases or having a phrase-book on hand can make all the difference to getting the help you need. On our way to Coba, we somehow got mixed up and missed our stop on the bus. Since I knew some Spanish, I was able to ask for directions to get us back on track.

Stay Safe

No matter where you are, traveling in remote areas can pose risks. Using a little common sense can go a long way to ensuring your personal safety, especially if you’re thinking about going off the beaten path. It’s always a good idea to check the U.S. State Department website for travel alerts and International travel safety tips, should you be traveling abroad. The basic rule of thumb when going anywhere is to be aware of your surroundings and be smart about where you're going. Avoid isolated areas at night. Be mindful not to wear flashy jewelry or brand-name accessories that call attention to yourself.

Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to at least consider traveling off the beaten path next time you go on vacation. Happy travels!

Vacation Stories

More Travel Hacks & Tips


Vacation Planning Activity: Travelgories

Vacation Planning Activity: Travelgories
Looking for a fun challenge to get your family talking about vacation ideas? Play a round of Travelgories with your kids to get some ideas flowing!

Best Places and Times to Travel as a Family

Best Places and Times to Travel as a Family
Jumping on a last-minute flight to an idyllic vacation destination sounds wonderful, but the perfect getaway requires a little planning. Start with these smart travel tips.


10 Bucket-List Vacations to Take Before Your Kids Grow Up
Kids grow up fast – in the blink of an eye, they’re heading off to college. Take the time now to get away with your family. Make lasting memories by going on a trip to these spectacular bucket-list destinations across the United States.

About the Author

Diane Nassy

Diane Nassy, a digital influencer and social media consultant, is the publisher of the lifestyle blog Juggling Family Life where she provides moms with practical tips and tricks related to parenting, health, home and travel. She is a busy mom who left Wall Street behind to focus on her family. Professionally, she holds a bachelor's degree in Urban Legal Studies and a law degree from Rutgers School of Law.