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Ways to be a tourist without leaving your hotel room

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It’s one of those worst-case travel scenarios you never plan for: pick a destination, research the best deals on flights, spend months planning your itinerary… only to get sick by the time you arrive.

Don’t worry, your trip isn’t a total bust. Here are 8 ways to be a tourist without even leaving your hotel room:

 

1. Look out the window. It’s sounds too simple but it’s true; you get a great understanding of how a city works by watching the locals live their daily lives.

Take a look at how people move around: do they bike, walk, drive or use public transportation? Look at where and when they eat, how they dress, how they communicate, and acknowledge how it’s different from your life back home.

Plus, buskers are always entertaining… and you don’t have to tip ‘em from your room!  Of course, you’ll be curious about the weather too. If it’s cold and wet, you’re best indoors anyway!

 

2. Read all about it! Even if you can’t read the language of the local newspaper, scroll through and take a look at the pictures; you’ll probably see places you never knew existed.

Check out magazines that give insight into your destination. Read pamphlets that advertise local events and museums. Often these pamphlets will provide info on popular attractions and plenty of pictures.

If all else fails, read your totally bland and boring guidebook, which will inevitably put you to sleep.  But if you’re sick, you need the zzz’s anyway.

 

3. Watch TV. You should always watch the local news to see if there’s any breaking stories you need to know about. Plus, the news will show you around the city, especially human interest stories and local events.

Watch the popular sporting events or check out the culture and entertainment programming to discover what the locals are interested in.  Just know that in many foreign countries, nudity and naughty language are permissible.  It’s like pay cable without the extra cost.  Score!

 

4. Order local food. The hotel staff will have plenty of recommendations for great local restaurants that deliver national or popular cuisine. Just call the concierge and ask if they can order you food that the locals eat.

You might want to skip room service since the food is usually grossly overpriced and unauthentic.

 

5. Contact a tourism office. Even small cities have tourism centers with a staff that speaks some English. Ask them about events taking place around the city, or have them send reading material to your hotel room.

Tourism centers will have plenty of information explaining customs and detailing cultural events, exhibitions and celebrations.

 

6. Meet the locals. Yes, you can do this without ever leaving your hotel room. Use an instant messaging service that allows you to search for people by city who are currently online.

Go on MySpace or Facebook, look for groups about the place you’re visiting, and send some people a message. You can even go on Skype and talk or text with face-to-face with locals via webcam.

Many locals will want to talk with you to brag about their country and practice their English.

 

7. Read reviews online. Here’s another thing you can do online: go to sites like TripAdvisor or VirtualTourist and read about other people’s experiences.

Live vicariously through other travelers by reading firsthand accounts of their experiences at places you planned on visiting. Better yet, check out travel blogs.

Bloggers detail their trips like a journal and offer insight that you can’t get from a guidebook. Just search for “travel blog” or “blog list” in a search engine and you’ll come upon thousands of blogs (just like this one!) with articles about your destination.

 

8. Raid the mini bar. Hotels usually pack the mini bar with snacks and beverages that are available locally.

Every country specializes in some kind of food or drink, and chances are it’s already in your room — everything from sodas to snacks.  Sure, it may not be great for your tummy, but it’s worth it for the yummy.

Being stuck in your hotel room obviously isn’t the ideal way to spend your trip. But sometimes it’s better to sacrifice one or two days of sightseeing in favor of fully recuperating so you can actually enjoy the remainder of your trip.

Have you ever been stranded in your room due to inclement weather or sickness?  What have you done to make the most out of your trip?