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.
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!