Go to college, get a real job, save for retirement. Like so many of you, I got very sound advice life from my parents when it came to living a secure life. When it came to travel, not so much… Go where it’s safe, don’t spend all your money, and then the hammer dropped: “Shouldn’t you just stay home?” I love my parents, but their travel advice wasn’t the best. Here’s what I wish they told me:

If someone tells you how to see a sight, experience a city, or connect with a local, then you’re not traveling — You’re checking things off a list. You’ll be a tourist, and probably not a very good one.

Go to where the locals hang out, where they’re more likely to be relaxing instead of trying to sell you a ticket for yet another sightseeing package. Whether it’s at the neighborhood chai walla in India or the parques in Colombia, you’ll likely meet locals who are proud of their country and are happy to share their favorite restaurants, hikes, or weekend getaway.

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