I love travel. My company and travel TV series Bare Feet was born from my love of dance and my love of travel. I'm the director of the Women's Travel Fest, which my business partner and I founded three years ago to really help promote, educate, inspire and empower women through travel, because that's what it's done for our lives.
If you're a small-business owner who's traveling for business, it's easy to feel like you have no idea where you spent the last few days by the end of the trip. To help you actually enjoy your business travel, try any (or all!) of these four travel tips. This way, if you ever come back, you'll know more about the city than if you were focused solely on getting from point A to point B.
1. Eat like a local.
If you're a small-business owner, you're trying to save money. When I travel abroad, I go to the local market. Most of the places outside of the United States have markets, which run daily or on certain days of the week, that sell in-season food or a specialty. Not only are you getting a taste of what is truly local from that place, you're also meeting some characters and you're practicing using the language. You get a feel for the place outside of a very bubble-like area for tourists. The market is a nice place to get out of your comfort zone while still taking in the local atmosphere.
Are your travels stateside? Instead of grabbing a bite to eat at a chain restaurant, find a nearby local coffee shop, diner, bar, or farm-to-table restaurant. (The best way to find these is by picking up the local free newspaper.) By eating locally, you really get a feel for the place you’re visiting. Bonus: You’ll be supporting a local small business, which helps the local economy.
2. Rent from the locals.
Renting an apartment from a local can often be cheaper than a hotel. I always rent when I'm traveling, especially in Europe—usually the owner of the place will give you recommendations of where to go and places to see. Also, you're saving a lot of money. You have a kitchen if it's an apartment or house, so you can buy the food that you get in the market, cook at home or pack a lunch.
3. Get around like a local.
When I go to different cities and airports, I make sure I can find the best route to the city center using public transportation. Most international cities have a really good public transport system from their airports because they want to promote tourism. It's usually a tenth of the price if you took a cab, and you get a better feel for the place you're going to.
If you end up taking a taxi, talk to the drivers. They know the ins-and-outs of the place you’re visiting, and they can always give you good tips on where to eat the best local food or hear some music.
4. Talk to the locals.
This tip goes hand in hand with eating locally: If you’re at a coffee shop or a bar, talk to your bartender or the coffee barista—they most likely know the ins and outs of the place you are visiting. Ask for some tips on places to check out in their town. Check the local community website or local newspaper for free events happening in the area: concerts, festivals, weekend markets, readings, talks, you name it! Since most of these things are seasonal, it’s fun to jump in with the locals with things that they like to do during specific times of the year. Obviously, I love to dance, so whenever there is a chance to interact with strangers in this way, I’m all about it—it’s a great conversation starter!
Also, before you travel internationally, you should learn at least the basic phrases in the local language (“Hello," “Goodbye" and “Thank You"). It goes a long way when you make an effort! Don't be afraid to talk to people, because a lot of times, you might be able to connect with them business-wise. When we were in Argentina, we talked to some people at a club and ended up featuring them in the show.
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Read more about how Mickela Mallozzi turned her travel blog into a successful TV series.