Travel rituals

Hi Frugalistas!

What are your travel rituals?  The things you must do, no matter where you go?  The activities or places that make your trip a trip?  Here are the things I love to do no matter where I am visiting:

1.  Markets

Every destination has a market of some description.  I love markets for a number of reasons – it’s a good way to get in touch with locals, to see, taste and buy local goods and produce at a good price and sometimes to find a “truer” version of the place you are visiting.  In Bali this year I read in my guidebook that there was a market each Saturday just near my hotel.  Not sure what to expect, my young daughter and I headed off and found ourselves the only non-locals in the market – in downtown Jimbaran in the heart of tourist-laden Bali!  Amazing!  We had a wonderful time wandering the aisles and being the centre of attention – lots of good mornings and welcoming smiles came our way.  We were able to see produce and goods just not seen at home or in the more tourist oriented shops.  We purchased an offering for our hotel room – which my daughter loved having.  I loved the ability to take my daughter away from the beach and the hotel buffet and find the essence of the local community – on our hotel doorstep!

Hindu offering from a Balinese market

Our Hindu offering – purchased for 10cents at our “local” market

2.  Eat regional, seasonal food prepared in the local tradition

Regular readers of my blog will know I have a bit of a thing about France, and Paris specifically.  Obviously there are a lot of choices for food, but my one, true Paris food ritual is to eat duck confit.  I’m not sure how it started – duck confit is a southwest regional dish.  I’m not obsessive about where I eat my duck confit – any convenient brasserie that looks inviting and has it on the menu will do.  But no trip to Paris is complete without it!

I also make a point of working out the local regional ingredients (markets come in very handy here) and seeking out restaurants that serve it in the traditional way.  Whether it is local lake fish in Northern Italy or raclette in the French Alps, that’s what I eat, and what I love eating.  I skip the pizza unless I’m in Italy, and avoid “international cuisine” (what is that anyway?) like the plague.  I think it is fine to treat the food of the country’s old colonial past as local – a rijstaffel in Amsterdam was fantastic for example!  I also make sure I add a local drink wherever I can – whether it is a Bintang in Bali, a dark draught beer in Germany or a local rose in Southern France – the best accompaniment for the best local cuisine is the local beverage!

Eating local food prepared to a regional recipe is the only way to eat

3.  Places of worship

Regardless of your religious persuasion a visit to a local place of worship can also enrich your trip.  Much more than the religious component can be learned.  A quiet place for reflection (or even just to sit during a busy sightseeing day), a place to understand local art and society, and often a place to understand history.  Think the frauenkirche in Dresden – it is a lesson in the horrors of 20th Century history that packs a real punch and leaves a lasting memory…….

The frauenkirche in Dresden – a priceless lesson in history regardless of your beliefs

4.  Water

I love finding water wherever I am traveling.  Whether it is the beach, a lake or a river, I love to walk along it, around it and sometimes cruise on it.  No reason in particular – I just like it.  And sometimes that is the best reason to do anything when traveling……….

I try to be near water whenever I can – just because I like it! Here, the Loire River in Saumur, France

I would love to hear about your travel rituals.  Drop me a comment and let me know!


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21 Comments on “Travel rituals”

  1. Geek Goddess 26/09/2012 at 12:18 am #

    I’m with you on the local food and drink. I try to buy something to take home as well, that I can’t get in the US, or at least not easily. A local pastis from Provence, some special spice blend in the spice market in Istanbul, a bottle of Calvados I got from a farmer that grew the apples himself.

    I also read about places before I go, so that I know a bit of local history. I stayed outside Uzes in southern France a couple years ago, so read about that area before I went. I went with friends on a cruise that included a stop in Puerto Vallarta. Instead of following the tourists around the crappy shops and bars, I found out there was a “chocolate, vanilla, and tequila” festival at a botanical garden outside of town. The food wasn’t for sale – it was about the plants. The staff, mostly ex-pats from Canada and the US, were surprised to see our group because they won’t pay the cruise ships a fee. After wandering through the beautiful tropical plantings, we ate lunch at their open air restaurant, which looked down and out over the mountainside of the coastline, with the Pacific ocean crashing below. I had a margarita the size of my head, and fresh-caught fish. Without the pre-trip research, we would have seen a couple gift shops, a tired church, and walked along the beach for an hour.

  2. frugalfirstclasstravel 26/09/2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Agree wholeheartedly! I don’t bring food back because of the incredibly strict customs requirements we have here, but yes, aree with the sentiment. Research is absolutely key. The other thing I tend to do that I didn’t include in the post is to get lost occasionally – you never know what you’ll see!

  3. Emme Rogers @ Roamancing 28/09/2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Seems we could travel together. These are a few of my must too.

  4. Margaret 29/09/2012 at 6:20 am #

    I agree about visiting markets. That’s one of my favorite things to do, and it gets me to try a lot of foods I wouldn’t know about otherwise. One thing I like to do when I go places is visit cemeteries. Some of them are so beautiful and have interesting histories, etc., (much as how you describe churches).

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/09/2012 at 6:56 pm #

      While I personally don’t gravitate to cemeteries as a ritual, there some very nice ones. I’ve visited the one in Salzburg which is particularly pretty both in terms of location and style.

      Thanks for dropping by

  5. Pretraveller 30/09/2012 at 5:26 pm #

    I have some similar tastes to you – my husband always groans when he hears the world ‘market’ but we definitely go and enjoy it! We also try to find the local eateries and cuisines, and the local places of worship. I am less fussed about water, I am probably more likely to gravitate towards mountains.

    Last year I visited California and I had the opportunity to be a tourist for a day and I chose to drive to San Juan Capistrano, which is a small town with an old Spanish mission. I think I must have ticked all of your boxes on that day – there was a small local market on (I visited and shopped), I ate a fantastic authentic Mexican breakfast at the local Swallow Inn (which was open and serving both food and alcohol early in the morning…), I visited the mission (the local place of worship) and I got to drive along the coast road each way which was lovely.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/09/2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Wow, you managed to hit my list all on one day? I’m very impressed. I’m particularly fond of water in mountainous areas!

      Thanks for dropping by

  6. blinkpack 03/10/2012 at 1:58 am #

    Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. Call me crazy (and artery-clogged), but I always like to visit the local greasy spoon — especially for breakfast — when traveling. The food is always great and cheap, and I find it a great way to meet the locals.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 03/10/2012 at 8:31 am #

      Yes – that’s a good one! Also a good budget way to eat well. I have a cheap brasserie in Paris I often visit for breakfast for precisely the same reason – I go early when the staff aren’t too busy and we talk about all sorts of things and I get to eat bacon and eggs!

      Thanks for dropping by

  7. Holiday Addict 03/10/2012 at 4:23 am #

    I am with you on a lot of these rituals, especially with regard to places of worship.

    The number one for me is just to go out on long walk. I like to find my bearings! It inevitably means getting a bit lost, but I love working out how to get back again. Then I always familiarise myself with the local tipple!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 03/10/2012 at 8:33 am #

      Yes, long walks and getting lost (either deliberately or accidentally) are definitely part of a trip. The reality is you are never truly lost – it’s just sometimes you don’t know exactly where you are!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. annbenjamin 13/10/2013 at 8:43 pm #

    I love visiting local markets – especially grocery stores – you never know what you’re going to find. Even global brands will have some sort of local flare and it’s always fun to see.

    My other big ritual/tradition is jumping pictures! I’m well known in my group of friends for pictures in front of various landmarks around the world leaping in the air. My husband is always a good sport and is quite good at catching these moments.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 14/10/2013 at 1:49 am #

      What a great tradition! And what a good husband! Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment

  9. Nita 25/01/2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Those are pretty great rituals to have and to get to know a country 🙂 I’m all with you in the local food and drinks department, and also the water (lakes, seas, rivers). I also like to search for scenic spots to look over and admire the entire town 🙂

  10. jpilkington09 24/02/2014 at 8:49 am #

    I normally try and hunt out the most famous view of the city for myself, to try and capture my own version. And I always make sure to walk as much as possible – you can find so much just from getting out and exploring on foot.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 24/02/2014 at 8:53 am #

      What a great idea John!

      Yes, I love walking too. If I’ve got time in a particular place I try not to take public transport at all. You see so much more from the footpath.

  11. Jeff | Planet Bell 10/03/2014 at 4:04 pm #

    1. Drink a local beer
    2. Eat local specialty food (like your #2)
    3. Find a place to watch a sunset with a view over the city or area


  1. My Paris itinerary – making a new place feel brand new in practice | frugalfirstclasstravel - 10/09/2013

    […] Travel rituals […]

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