How to Avoid Getting Stuck in Tourist Traps; My Tips and Thoughts

We’ve all been there. You just wanted to go see this one really cool, really popular place, but it’s surrounded by all these neat little shops! Oh, whatever shall you do!

It’s common to go to a place intending to see the main attraction, but instead, you end up spending half your time and all your money in the surrounding area. I’ve seen it all over the US. It may be good fun, but it takes away from the rest of your experience by hampering your time spent exploring your true surroundings. Plus, no one likes arriving back home with a bunch of useless knick-knacks and an empty wallet.

So how do you avoid getting caught in a tourist trap? Here are my tips:

Move quickly. If you’re just standing around aimlessly in the middle of a touristy area, you’ll feel an urge to go into the stores and buy things. It’s healthier to be walking instead of standing, anyway. Just keep moving, and you’ll get through the tourist trap hazard zone unscathed.

Set a time limitAlright, so maybe you really want to get some souvenirs, but you don’t want to go overboard. Set a time limit for yourself, and you can keep yourself from wasting the whole day away in the stores instead of sightseeing. There are a couple ways to limit yourself. If you’ve got decent self-control, just pick a reasonable time and monitor your watch or phone clock. If you need more substantial restraints, set a countdown timer on your phone. Turn it on vibrate to make sure not to cause alarm, but adhere to the timer when it goes off.

Setting a time limit for your souvenir shopping adventure will ensure that you have time to enjoy all the attractions your vacation destination has to offer. It’ll also help you indecisive folks to pick souvenirs faster since you’ll be time-constrained.

Pick one store. I’ve been to lots and lots (much too many, really) of souvenir shops. I can assure you that they’ll all be more-or-less the same. Pick the one which looks the most appealing, and purchase everything you need in that one shop. I suppose if you really want one particular item you could check another shop if it’s not in the first one, but it’s probably a better idea to ask someone where you could find that item beforehand rather than shop-roaming. If you roam, you’re likely to spend too much time in every shop and buy a bunch of knick-knacks to justify all the time you’ve just wasted. Don’t do that.

Buy food beforehand or bring your own. I’ve not mentioned food yet here, but dining is the other component to tourist traps. The food in touristy areas is generally average at best and overpriced. Don’t eat there unless you want to spend some serious money for mediocre food. I suppose I personally violate this rule a lot to eat at Hard Rock Cafes, but their Twisted Mac ‘n’ Cheese is a favorite of mine and actually quite good.

Just make sure to be smart. There are likely food options surrounding the touristy area that serve perfectly good food for a reasonable price. You can also bring food with you to wherever it is you’re going to ensure you save time and money.

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