Insider Travel Tips from AAA Travel Experts

15 ideas to help you see the world up close.

Samantha Brown Helps You Travel Like a Pro Getty

Looking to make a deeper connection to your destination the next time you travel? Our AAA Travel experts share their insider tips to uncovering the true nature of a place and help you go beyond the ordinary tourist experience. Whether you're a seasoned globetrotter or a first-time explorer, these tips will empower you to delve deeper into the heart of each destination, fostering connections and creating meaningful memories

couple enjoying an outdoor cafe Getty

3 Ways to Travel Like a Local

Go for a walk. Put down your phone and just walk through the streets, but veer away from the tourist centers and head to where the locals live. Sit down in one of the cafes and enjoy everyday life in another part of the world.

Create a ritual to slow down. Do one thing, then make it the same thing every day. Go to a coffee shop in the morning or enjoy a glass of wine at a nearby bar. That sense of ritual and familiarity slows down time and enhances your travels.

Ask locals where to eat. We often rely on social media for restaurant advice. But, if you’re in a cafe, why not just ask the person next to you? They’re less anonymous than an online reviewer, and you already have something in common just by being at the same cafe.

couple speaking the language abroad Getty

3 Ways to Make the Most of a Popular Destination

Avoid crowds. At the Great Wall of China, for example, you can walk just 10 to 15 minutes away from the main areas for a more interesting and personal experience.

Go in the off-season or shoulder season. It’s not just less expensive—fewer tourists also means you have a better chance of interacting with the locals and the environment.

Connect with people. Try to always know how to say hello, please and thank you in the language of the country you are visiting. And don’t forget to smile and make eye contact. To connect with people, you first need to be a person someone wants to connect to.

Samantha Brown travel tips Getty

3 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for a New Place

Read books before you travel. Learning more about the destination will stimulate your children’s curiosity and increase their comfort level upon arrival.

Treat it as an adventure. Yes, some things—even the food—will seem strange, but that’s what makes it exciting: “Look, they get to eat noodles for breakfast …”

Teach please and thank you. Learning a new language offers a feeling of accomplishment—and earns points with the locals. 

Woman with yellow scarf traveling Europe Getty

3 Not-So-Obvious Things to Travel With

Neck scarf. It’s a versatile piece of clothing in any season and any location because it can keep you warm, block you from the sun, cover your head when you visit a place of worship, serve as a beach cover-up and is easily washable.

Earplugs. Whether you’re dealing with music played at high volume, people yelling into their cell phones or the sound of 35 gate announcements, the cheap, foamy kind of earplugs do wonders for your sense of peace.

Mini power strip. Sometimes it would be easier to win the lottery than to find an open outlet at the airport. Bring a solution that turns one outlet into several—you might even help a fellow traveler in need and rack up good karma points.

Woman looking out window of hotel room. Getty

3 Things to Do as Soon as You Arrive

Head outside. Going for a walk will show you what shops and restaurants are nearby, and the fresh air and sunshine will help you deal with any jet lag.

Plan your return. If you’re arriving by plane, the terminal you are in will most likely be the one to which you return, so take notice of good restaurants or coffee shops, how long the security line is, and how far the airport is from your hotel. This knowledge will help you be more relaxed when you have to depart.

Check out your hotel room. Once you check in and before you explore, take a look around your room, figure out the shower and find the outlets (and charge up!) so you can get settled in your new space.

Keep reading in: