Off The Beaten Track: Tips To Enhance Your Holiday

Some of our favourite ways to find a destination's hidden gems…
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Love travelling to far corners of the world but don’t want to follow the crowds on your next trip? Going off the beaten track on holiday is a terrific way to really get under the skin of a place and explore the lesser-known, crowd-free spots. What’s more, you can do it practically anywhere - even in the most popular beach resorts and heaving cities.

Get talking
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There's no better way to find the most authentic places that the other tourists haven't heard of than by chatting to the locals. Whether at a bar or restaurant, or even to the staff at your hotel, the people who live and breathe your holiday destination will know exactly how to escape the hordes and experience undiscovered sites. On a recent trip to Mauritius, it was thanks to a member of staff at our resort that we found a beach where the Mauritians like to go and it was well worth peeling ourselves from our all-inclusive comforts for a day to see the glorious sands and turquoise waters of Bras d'Eau in the north of the island.
Read the guide book - yes, really
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Believe it or not, guide books, such as those by Rough Guides or Lonely Planet, are an excellent way to discover some expert secrets and alternative sights to those that are well trodden. The authors spend months getting to know your destination and really go out of their way to find those holiday treasures while often revealing little-known ways to visit even the most popular attractions. Lonely Planet frequently features off-the-beaten-path maps and regions in its books, such as Wine Trails. Meanwhile, Spotted by Locals, VizEat and Duolingo are great apps to download before you travel.
Throw away the map
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Getting lost among cobbled streets and enticing alleys is the ultimate way to stumble upon places that you won't find in the guide book - as long as you stay safe, of course. Setting out without a target means you have the chance to come across small museums and hidden squares that you wouldn't normally enter. By planning as little as possible you will also avoid the disappointment of things not going to plan. It's a good idea to carry some form of map (or have Google Maps on your phone) in case you really can't find your way back to your hotel but you can cross out all of the well-known sites beforehand so that you're not tempted to head for that world-famous cathedral or viewpoint.
Stay as long as you can
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By booking a long trip (at least a fortnight), you will have more time to make friends, find out where the locals eat and discover the most secluded beaches. It will give you the chance to get to grips with the language and fully embrace the local community. If you do find yourself wanting to visit the theme parks on holiday in Florida, for instance, you'll have plenty of time to fit attractions on the tourist trail too. The longer you stay, the further you can travel to go off the beaten path.
Take public transport
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Getting a taxi from A to B might save you time but catching a bus, tram or train will help you travel like the ordinary people who live in your holiday location and take you to places that you didn't plan on passing. In Thailand, for instance, 'two rows' are small trucks that run on fixed routes or as shared taxi services, which will pick up passengers going in the same direction and give you the chance to spot new places off the tourist trail.