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The tourism industry portrays itself as something which bridges barriers between cultures. While this can be true to some extent, the demographics of the modern tourism and travel writing industries have their roots in past western colonialism and the privilege westerners enjoy. White people, especially white men, who are well-off and love to travel have a lot of societal advantages that they may not be aware of. As a white man, I think it is important that we respect other cultures when we travel, and that includes encouraging more diverse groups of peoples’ perspectives in the travel industry. T his blog post is about how privileged travelers can do more to support more inclusive practices in travel writing, and to be aware of their privilege when making decisions about how to act in foreign places.

Travel is a great thing that can break down boundaries between cultures. I have personally learned a huge amount from traveling. But over the course of my time at college, I’ve begun to think more about the privilege I have as a white male from an affluent background.

My first time I gave this thought was when I turned in my first draft of an essay paragraph for my Fall Semester college writing class. My paper had been an introduction, and a description of being the only person of Western European descent on a train in Ukraine, and how exhilaratingly adventurous I felt. My professor, when she was grading my first draft, wrote a note that encouraged me to consider how my viewpoint was a privileged viewpoint, and that my travel writing should acknowledge this at the very lest.

My first reaction was a sigh of exasperation, after all, I felt that my professor had been upset at the fact that I was an avid traveler, and I was honestly kind of offended. I loved a lot of things about being in Ukraine – the architecture, the food, the language, and all that. How could I be somehow offending someone by saying that?

And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized – she had a point. Plenty of people in western countries have to put up with being the only person of their race in a room of people every day. I’ve learned that, for many people of color in western countries, due to historical legacies of racism and intolerance, being the only person of your ethnicity in a room is not an exciting, adventurous thing – it can cause anxiety that some have to deal with every day. White Americans are in a position of privilege where being the only person of their racial background in a room is an “interesting” experience, not a difficult one, and not one that regularly have to put up with in America. The way I wrote could have been more considerate of that.

I find some of the so-called “social justice warriors” at my university to be very extreme. Some are so politically correct that they just don’t think it’s ever ok for white people to write about issues that affect other groups of people at all. Many are less extreme.

But overall, I feel that when it comes to how modern travel writing portrays other cultures and places, there’s a lot that needs to change. A lot of lonely planet books, while they are great for tourists, have a tendency of feature culturally-demeaning cliches (even if well-intended). And despite the rising numbers of tourists from outside the western world, many travel books still feature western perspectives on the country over locals’ modern perspectives. At its best it can be cliche, other times it can be downright orientalist and exoticizing. At the end of the day, travel writing is a business, and many travel guides are in it for the money. But as western travelers, we should be aware that many books cater to our perspective. And we should make more of an effort to bring other travelers’ voices into the mix. Because travel is not just for white people. It shouldn’t be, and we should do more to encourage inclusiveness in backpacker communities.

1) Promote more blogs of people of color and LGBTQA+ travelers in travel media.

The way privileged white westerners experience non-western countries is not the same as how many people of color experience them. Growing up in a privileged background at home can warp your perspective on other places. It doesn’t mean your perspective is less valid, but there are things that marginalized groups of people experience which can teach them about the world through a different lens.

I’m not going to say what those things are, because, as a white person, I don’t know the intricacies of them. It is not my place to guess how people of other backgrounds experience travel. But I know one thing, let’s get real: when you come from a position of societal privilege, there’s bound to be differences in your worldview which affect perspectives and experiences while traveling.

Non-white travelers exist, and their opinions on places should be valued just as much. Despite rising numbers of non-western and non-white travelers, travel media remains largely white-dominated, which is ironic considering that travel can be a great way to bring people together. While white people can never completely relate, we can listen. Representation in travel writing matters. This blogger, on her blog, (Oneika The Traveler) (she is African-American), writes about why it is important that travel media becomes more inclusive of non-white people: http://www.oneikathetraveller.com/lack-black-travel-blogging-travel-media.html

2) Stop using orientalist words like “authentic” and “exotic” to describe non-western cultures.

If you look at a typical travel guide’s introduction description of a western country, you can find a lot of cultural cliches for sure. The laid-back atmosphere of France, the open, diverse geology of the US, all that. The most prominent photos will often be photos of famous sites, or gorgeous landscapes.

When you look at non-western countries travel books, there is a very different tone. Typically, the photos featured are more likely to be of people in traditional clothing, as opposed to in books for western countries where the photos featured are of sights and landscapes in the country. Carelessly, there is liberal, orientalist use of the words “authentic” and “exotic”.

This is a big problem. Travel should be an activity which teaches people about cultural differences and cultural similarities in a balanced manner. It shouldn’t fetishize and hype-up the differences that exist between western and non-western countries, especially when those differences can be a result of decades of colonialism, oppression, and poverty.

3) Write about differences between regions a more well-rounded way

A lot of travel writing that compares different world regions does it in a compartmentalizing, demeaning manner. Europe? Go there for the culture! Africa? Go there for the national parks! When we reduce different regions of the world solely to their roles in fulfilling travelers’ wishes, not only do we look overlooked travel opportunities, but we also reinforce stereotypes that are rooted in colonialism and orientalist.

We need to acknowledge that there is more that a traveler can enjoy in Africa than Safaris, as there is more a traveler to Europe can enjoy than sightseeing. We need to see regions for what they are, beyond just what the tourism industry in those places promotes.

4) Respect the culture when you go abroad!!!!

This should be obvious, but it isn’t to many people. It’s extremely upsetting for me when I see people disrespecting the culture of a non-western country. When I was in Japan, I came across a white american man in the guesthouse I was staying it who would bark basic questions in English (the receptionist didn’t understand well) and wouldn’t even bother to learn “please”, or “What is it?” in Japanese. Learning the language of a country where it is important shouldn’t be a cool bonus thing travelers do. It should be expected .

Also, when I was in Peru, there was one woman on one of my tours who talked about the people in very belittling ways, and kept trying to take photos of indigenous Quechua-speaking children when the families told her they didn’t want to be photographed. She also made lots of tasteless remarks about Inca people believing in evil spirits. It was extremely tasteless to me and to other travelers. It is just not okay.

Another important point: If, when we are abroad, we only notice things that confirm our pre-existing ideas of cultures, we are not being open minded at all. But some travelers do that. And that’s not ok.

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The bottom line is that, I think there are things about travel writing which are overdue to change. The world is not static, and travel writing shouldn’t be either.

Below I have some good blog posts with interesting perspectives on travel and privilege:

http://inedibleroots.tumblr.com (blog which takes a critical look at the western-oriented nature of the tourism industry, the commodification of culture, and features writing with perspectives of non-white travelers)

https://feminismandhappiness.tumblr.com/post/56842139860/im-tired-of-seeing-white-people-treating-poor (a post about why traveling is not a cure for racism)

Respect in Developing Countries: 7 Behaviors Travelers Should Avoid

20 Jan

This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I recently got back from traveling around Peru for a month, and as it was my first major trip in a developing country, I’ve taken time to think about the most important tips for being respectful while traveling in developing countries.

I think that in rich countries, people get an image of poor countries as being hopeless places. When positive trends take place in developing countries, the US media doesn’t report on it, unless the supposedly positive trend is that white people are going over to help them. By watching the news footage of whatever tragic event has recently happened in a poor country, or by seeing charity ads with poor, starving African children, you wouldn’t know that extreme poverty has decreased from 30% of the world’s population to 10% of it since 1990. You wouldn’t know that Sub-Saharan Africa has several of the world’s fastest growing economies. You wouldn’t know that literacy rates in developing countries have seen incredible gains in the past 50 years. You may know that many Africans have no access to clean tap water, but you wouldn’t know that more Africans have mobile phone service than have access to clean tap water.

We get such a warped view of developing nations in the media, to the point where even when well-meaning backpackers visit those countries, they are influenced by this, using travel as a chance to confirm their pre-existing biases rather than learn things they may have otherwise not learned.

For example, a person may go to a country in Latin America and have no problems getting around on buses most of the time (as I did). But as soon as they have one experience sitting on a delayed bus with a driver running late, they see it as evidence of the “laid back culture” of Latin America. And so, it makes them feel adventurous, as if it’s an interesting story to tell. But if these same people had more delayed bus rides in the United States, it wouldn’t be about a “laid back culture”. Instead, they’d be complaining about America’s infrastructure problems nonstop, and talking about the failures of the US government to build High Speed Rail and improve the nation’s congestion problem.

When Western tourists visit developing countries, they can contribute to local businesses and help their economies. But they can also give locals a sour impression of westerners, sometimes deservedly so. I think that in developing countries, it’s especially important to respect local norms and respect the people.

And so, this list is of 7 problematic behaviors westerners should avoid in poor countries.

1) Taking photos of local people without permission

This is problematic because it violates the privacy of people, and also turns human beings into “props”, or trophy pictures for your Instagram profile. It’s important to remember that when people take these photos, they often selectively choose the most “exotic” looking people in the most “exotic” places. In Peru, hardly anyone takes photos of the local people in Miraflores, a wealthy suburb of Lima. But many people take pictures, without permission, of rural, traditionally dressed indigenous people in the Sacred Valley region near Cusco. And since that’s the image that many westerners get of Peru, they don’t realize the fact that wealthy suburbs exist in the country too. This contributes to the problems with how developing countries are perceived by westerners. No one ever goes to wealthy places in the US and takes photos of the “strange Americans going to work in their business suits”. So neither should you do that with people in developing countries, unless they really want you to.

2) Making tasteless jokes or remarks

You’d think that travelers who go to developing countries would know better, but unfortunately, many will make tasteless or downright racist remarks or jokes, often to other tourists, about how local people live. On the first trekking tour I did in Peru (in Colca Canyon), there was one woman who kept making offensive jokes and remarks about “primitive native people believing in evil spirits”. This shouldn’t be happening. Traveling should be an experience that teaches people how insignificant we are as individuals in this world of seven billion, and how millions of people are fine living differently than we do. Sadly, some travelers don’t realize this.

3) Choosing tour companies that don’t have ethical business practices

It’s important to research the business practices of companies that offer tours. Make sure tour companies give back to their local communities with the money they make from tourists. Not all of them do. For example, In northern Tanzania, there is a lot of competition among safari companies, and many have unethical business practices. These practices can include racism, a lack of commitment to preserving wildlife, not giving back to locals, and cutting corners with safety.

4) Volunteering to do work that locals could do themselves

In March 2012, The Atlantic magazine published an article called “The White-Savior Industrial Complex” by Teju Cole. See the article here . It talked about how a voluntourism industry has grown massively in the years following the Haiti Earthquake. Many westerners who want to do good in developing nations will pay money for the chance to volunteer in a rural village for a couple of weeks, laying bricks for a local school, taking pictures with the kids, and then going home with a huge ego and idea that they are a hero. It may sound harmless, but it really isn’t. The problem is that in many of these communities, the work tourists do is work that locals could do themselves. When tourists do this work, it contributes to the problematic “white savior” narrative and takes work opportunities away from local people. So unless you have a really specialized skill that no one in the local community has, it’s best to avoid being a “voluntourist”.

5) Ignoring Local Customs and Etiquette

In developed nations like those Western Europe or Japan, American tourists are made fun of for being ignorant and not knowing the local customs. And while it annoys the people who live there and do business there, it is often given a pass. But when you ignore the local customs in a developing country, you are doing more harm, leaving the people with a very sour view of the few Western tourists they get (relative to developed nations), and sometimes leading them to lose faith in the ability for tourism to help their communities. Vang Vieng in Laos is notorious for attracting backpackers who go tubing, party, and trash the place while ignoring local customs. This has really hurt the locals’ relationship with the tourism industry. Just don’t be another neocolonialist. Learn basic etiquette.

6) Eating the same food you could eat back home

This isn’t common among all backpacker circles, but still does happen. There are people who will go to Southeast Asian countries and eat cheeseburgers, pancakes, and pizza, and only eat from touristy restaurants. Sometimes it is because people don’t want to venture outside their comfort zone, but It’s often because of an irrational fear of local food. It’s usually very safe to eat local food as long as you do your research on food safety beforehand, and avoid places where locals aren’t eating.

7) Becoming a pretentious, “enlightened” narcissist after your trip

Look, I’m sure three month trip in South America was great. You learned a lot. You gained a lot of knowledge about the world. But it doesn’t make you superior to your friends back home. It doesn’t give you an excuse to be a pretentious narcissist. Travel shouldn’t just be about you “finding yourself” (whatever that means), it should be about the places you go and what you learn about the world from it. An insecure person becomes an arrogant know-it-all after traveling, who talks about travel when it isn’t wanted. A happy, knowledgable traveler should become more humble after traveling, as they learn more and more that it’s impossible to know everything about the world. Listen to what friends back home say, especially if they’ve had a different travel experience then you. And don’t dismiss those who love to read about other cultures but haven’t traveled much. Travel is a great way to learn about the world, but it isn’t the only way. Travel is a privilege and costs a lot of money too. Many people can’t, no matter how many articles on the internet talk about someone who “visited 100 countries for free” or how “Anyone can travel if they put their mind to it”.

So there you have it. These are seven very problematic behaviors to avoid in developing countries. It’s important to keep these in mind as you travel and plan future travel.

Peru – The Traveler’s Ideal

7 Jan

The View from Machu Picchu

Within every region of the world, countries are known for different things, and staggeringly diverse Latin America is no exception. In Latin America, Brazil is known for its party culture. Costa Rica is known for its accessible natural beauty. Bolivia is known for its indigenous culture. Overall, It’s not always the case that, to a traveler, a country seems to have just about everything a traveler could want. But it’s exactly the case with Peru. If a god could design a country to be interesting and ideal to travelers, there’s a decent chance that country would look something like Peru.

Since December 12, I have been exploring this incredible country. I had my first impressions of the country in Lima, where I visited Huaca Pucclana Pyramid and tried some fine Ceviche. Afterwards, I took an overnight bus to Arequipa. Arequipa is a high-altitude city at the foot of El Misti, a large volcano whose famous snows sadly disappeared five years ago due to Global Warming. From Arequipa, I took a 3 day trekking tour into Colca Canyon, one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth. It is the world’s biggest canyon, home to Condors and various types of Cacti. Indigenous people live in villages in the bottom of the canyon, where local tour groups stay overnight between hiking days. After I got back from Colca Canyon, I took a six hour bus ride over to Puno. Puno is not a particularly pleasant town, but it’s a good place to spend a few days in, as it is the base for seeing the Uros and Taquile islands. Then I took another 6 hour bus ride, this time to Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, now known for its blend of Spanish and Indigenous culture. I went on the Salkantay trek, a longer but less pricey alternative to the Inca trail. Afterwards, I took a wildlife tour to the Amazon, specifically the edge of the Manu reserve. The wildlife is breathtaking. There’s a staggering variety of species. The most memorable to me were the bullet ants, the monkeys, and the macaws.

Peru does culture and sights, and it does those very well. No other ruin in the Americas is as famous as Machu Picchu. Peru is also home to other ruins, such as Huaca Pucllana in Lima and Kuelap in the north. Peru has great food too, from Alpaca steaks in the mountains to Ceviche on the coast. Peru also is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. The coast, amazon, and andes all have incredible landscapes and opportunities to experience nature. The tourism infrastructure for trekking and other types of tours is well set-up.

Peru’s cuisine is very good. It isn’t as renowned as that of the French of Chinese, but a trip to Peru is a far greater culinary experience than say, a trip to Ireland or Poland. You have to try Cuy (guinea pig). it’s expensive and there isn’t much meat, but it’s very tasty!

Peru’s culture has a fascinating blend of indigenous and colonial influences. There are three languages: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. While Spanish is spoken almost everywhere, adventurous travelers can try out speaking a bit of Quechua in the Andes region. The indigenous peoples of Peru, in some places at least, still wear traditional clothing which varies from village to village.

Peru is also relatively safe compared to its northern neighbors, such as Ecuador and Colombia. There is a far lower violent crime rate, and the worst that happens to many travelers is being pestered by unprofessional tour guides in one of Cusco’s squares. You still should be careful though.

Peru was my first time in South America (the last inhabited continent I had left to set foot on), and it did not disappoint. I’d highly recommend it for any adventurous traveler!

At home nowhere – and happy that way

1 Dec

I feel at home nowhere – and I hope to keep it that way as long as I can.

This Fall was my first semester at college. I attend the American University in Washington, DC, and will graduate in 2019. It’s a moderately small school with around 7,000 undergraduates. I’ve settled in quite well. Not without problems, such as the anxieties over future jobs and the occasional disappointing test grade. But overall, my social and academic college life is on to a great start.

As the semester winds up and I’m anticipating my trip to Peru later this month, I’ve been thinking about the concept of home. I’ve been to parents houses in New York and Boston a few times this semester, including on Thanksgiving. But each time, I have felt no more happiness to be home than any other time during the past five years of my life. If anything, it has felt strange to be home. It’s strange because a few things are different than I remember, but for the most part the home and the surroundings are the same. And I don’t like sameness and routine in my life. I like things to change. I want the town to be different each time, wherever I am. I have felt no less strange then I do when I step off the plane in a foreign country.

I have fond memories of being in both my mother and my father’s houses and going to school in the Boston area. My parents are both great, loving people in their own ways. But I don’t feel homesick or nostalgic for my past like some of my friends at college do.

I don’t think this is about my family situation, school situation, or anything from my teenage years. I think it’s just my personality. I love places, but I don’t feel a special attachment to any place in particular. I just like seeing everywhere I can, but as an observer, not a resident.

I am happy for people who are different then me and feel happy with their lives at one place they call home. I sometimes wonder if my parents wish I envy them, since they spend a lot of money for me to travel. But I don’t envy them. I’m comfortable in my own skin. My late high school days of anxiety, a desire to fit in like everyone else are over.

In 2 weeks I will be flying to Peru, ready to visit the last inhabited continent I have left to set foot in. I will be updating my blog regularly with travel advice about visiting the most prominent country of the high Andes.

I’m at Kaffitar, an Icelandic coffee chain store and my trip to Iceland is coming to an end. I have decided to write about my experiences in this wonderful country and offer tips for visiting it.

The first day I was here I arrived and explored Reykjavik. It’s not “The Paris of the Far North” or anything like that but it does deserve time. There are a few museums and interesting streets to walk around. Reykjavik really tells me what a small city is supposed to be in the 21st century. Apart from the small amount of public transport and the sprawl, I really think this is a good-looking role model for a small city when it comes to infrastructure. The buildings are all contemporary, even somewhat futuristic. Unlike in US cities, the bridges don’t look like they are rusty and falling apart. They look like what bridges should look like in the 21st century. There is some graffiti, but not too much, and I heard that street art is actually legal in some areas of the city (This is fine with me considering the amount money I’m guessing police spend removing street art every week in other cities)

Basically, if the city had skyscrapers, more public transit, and flying cars, it would look like a small, clean version of an ideal futuristic city.

The second day I was here I went on my first tour. It was a glacier hike and sightseeing tour with Reykjavik Excursions, a company I definitely recommend (The glacier hike part was run by Icelandic mountain guides). The glacier hike is, for the most part, not scary or difficult. At first I stamped my crampon-equipped shoes into the ice very hard because I thought I’d be more secure, but over time I realized you could walk almost as lightly as you could with normal shoes and still be fine. The glacier won’t be around for much longer due to Global Warming. The guide showed us the point it used to go down to back in 2005, right near the parking lot. Now it is a 15 minute walk to the glacier. At the end, the guide scared us and told us that a volcano behind the glacier is expected to erupt any day in the next year or so, and that the eruption will be much worse than that of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010. He said the glacier would melt almost instantly, and there would be rushing water passing through the valley at a rate of 300,000 cubic meters per second. He used this to motivate us to go down back to the parking lot faster, but he was not lying, as I found out from another tour guide the next day.

The next day, I did the greatest hike in my life. At almost 300 usd, the Thorsmork Volcano hike by arctic adventures is expensive, but well worth it. First you do a two hour drive into a beaitiful valley full of rainbows and rivers. The guide showed us whole new canyons which had been formed by the 2010 eruption. After this, you do a 5 mile hike up a volcano and 5 miles back down. The first part of the ascent is on a ridge next to a valley full of small golden trees. The second part is on a windswept hillside with a very slippery, muddy, steep climb up. The third stage is a flat barren moonscape with patches of snow here and there, and lots of fog. The final stage is climbing an ashy peak with lots of snow. There was sleet being thrust into our faces at all times and you couldn’t see more than about 100 feet in front of you, but it was worth it.

The next day, I did the golden circle tour. This was a great tour where we saw waterfalls and geysers. It was a relaxing bus tour, just what I needed after the hike the day before. This tour was run by Reykjavik Excursions.

All of the tours I did were incredible.

My tips for visiting Iceland are as follows:

1. Don’t make the Golden Circle your only tour. It is a fantastic tour but the more challenging hiking tours give you access to scenery you’d never be able to see on a regular bus tour. If you come to Iceland, don’t just do the Golden Circle. You’ll have a much better time if you do some more adventurous tours as well.

2. Eat at cheap local places rather than expensive ones. I tried eating at an expensive Pakistani restaurant in Reykjavik centre which showed of lots of tripadvisor awards at the door. In the US, I feel like I can trust pakistani restaurants with lots of tripadvisor awards. This food, however, was nothing compared to curries I’ve eaten in the US or the UK, and at 2900 isk for a lamb saffron curry, it was a lot more expensive. The curry tasted more like mustard mixed with mayonaise than Curry.

3. The people are happy to speak English. As I found, speaking Icelandic didn’t get me any more respect than speaking English. In many cultures they seem to like it if you learn the local language, but Icelanders don’t seem to care.

4. Be prepared to adjust back to regular tap water after leaving Iceland. Icelandic tap water is all glacial pure water and is the best in the world.

5. Enjoy it!!!

Overall, Iceland is a fascinating country that deserves to be seen.

Today I’m in Iceland, and its my first day of a four day trip. Tommorow I’ll be doing a tour with a glacier walk. Today, however, I spent time walking around Reykjavik after arriving from the airport.

Reykjavik isn’t up there with those famous European capitals, like Paris or Rome. It isn’t even as grand as the other nordic capitals from what I’ve heard. What it is, I can describe as a mishmash of different kinds of suburban environments: nordic style!

I have not visited any specific tourist sites yet, I am saving this for monday. But what I like about it is the colorful, if a little ramshackle charm its streets possess. One minute you’ll be crossing a busy main road. Next you’ll be on a touristy street with several backpacker hostels. Then you’ll escape to a quieter street. These quieter streets aren’t quiet enough to be dreary, but aren’t loud enough to be considered noisy. Every so often you’ll hear a car driving down the road or a stray cat mewing for attention, but only every once in a while.

Now, here’s my advice for visiting:

Don’t come here expecting the food to be cheap. A small pizza was about $19 USD. That’s much more expensive than the small pizzas back at home. A small cup of coffee will set you back $4. It sounds crazy but its true.

Despite the price, try some of the traditional icelandic foods at least once. I decided I was too eco-conscious to eat whale meat, but I ate guillemot breast. I ate it at a restaurant called thrir frakkar. It tasted like duck, but a little stronger. It costs about $30, but its worth it just once.

The bread at thrir frakkar is complemetary and very tasty.

Don’t be put off by your inital impressions of Reykjavik while driving in. It looked ugly and bland to me at first, but in the centre it is a lot nicer.

Also, take time to wander Reykjavik’s streets. I’m a huge fan of wandering city streets and Reykjavik is an interesting place for this.

One more tip: If you want to move around a lot or tour the country, rent a car. The buses are not frequent at all, even the city public bus routes. Most countries in Europe have much better public transportation than Iceland. I wish Iceland had trains, but it does not.

As I live near Boston, I have decided to write about visiting Boston.

Boston is a wonderful city filled with great historic sights, restaurants, and museums. More than anything else, Boston is a city that blends the old and new. You can be right next to tall modern buildings and colleges with international students, and then be walking around an area with old colonial buildings soon after. The city is not only a blend of old and new, but is also a blend of traditional New England and cultural diversity. It is provincial and multicultural at the same time. The city’s immigrants who come to Boston for an education have a lot to do with this. This is a great city to explore, and here’s my tips for seeing it.

1. See Faneuil Hall, but don’t eat there

There’s a lot of restaurants in Faneuil Hall that seem like they have good food. Most of these places, however, are tourist traps. Plus, you’ll never find a place to sit that hasn’t been taken. Don’t eat at Faneuil Hall. Go out to other parts of the city such as the North End, Chinatown, and the South End. You’ll have much better food at a much better price.

2. Don’t Drive

Don’t drive in Boston. Just don’t. The public transportation has its faults but it is good enough to get you around to the major tourist areas. The drivers here in Boston are very aggressive and in most of the city, finding parking is a nightmare. There can also be heavy traffic. Instead, use the new bike share system, or take the T (the subway). Most of the MBTA system is safe. Just don’t ride the Orange line through Roxbury at night.

3.Take a walk!

Just walking around Boston is a historical treat in itself. Walk through its patchworks of different neighborhoods to get a feel for just how diverse this city truly is. You’ll feel like each neighborhood is a different world. You can walk between the quaint houses of Beacon Hill, then cross a busy street, go past Charles MGH station, and walk across the bridge to cambridge. It’s a very interesting experience, more so than in most US cities. Another great walk is the harbor walk. You can start in Charlestown, then go around the North End and down to South Boston while clinging to the edge of a harbor.

4. Go to more squares than just harvard square

Harvard Square, while it’s got some good restaurants and shopping, is touristy. Make sure you also eat at restaurants near some of the other squares, like Kendall Square or Inman Square. You’ll see another side to the city than many tourists see.

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