Traveling is almost always has the capacity to be a very enriching experience. When you visit somewhere with that mindset, it’s only natural that you want to make the most of your stay. After all, it’s no good investing time and resources into an adventure you’re going to forget. But on the other hand, you realize that your visit is only temporary. And that’s the point of a leisurely visit, right? To glean some new experience that you may be able to incorporate into your life? So with that said, how do you maximize cultural immersion in such a finite period in time?

According to Bethany Salvon of the travel site Beers and Beans, it comes down to (almost) one defining component of your visit: where you say. Yes, convention dictates getting a hotel. But really, if you’re staying in a vibrant city (like Venice, the topic of Salvon’s post), aren’t hotels, in a way, somewhat isolationist? You go out, marvel at your surroundings, but then retreat back to the comfortable fortress that is your hotel, where you resume your normal cultural practices. In short, Salvon is saying that hotels are a barrier that prevents the traveler from jumping right into their travel destination’s local scene.

Salvon says you can combat this hotel isolation by getting an excellent guide book, taking an immersive walking tour, and, as far as accommodations go, skipping the hotel and renting an apartment. Salvon’s rented Venetian apartment allowed her to fully experience the cultural opportunities and delights that the Italian city had to offer.

Salvon says that the only better way to experience a new travel destination, is to have a friend who actually lives there. If you don’t, the advantageous nature of this tip becomes exposed when you’re renting an apartment. Salvon says, for instance, that their hosts would give them the tip on the best spots in the area and how to blend in with the surrounding culture. It’s easy to imagine the helpful nature of having this crucial edge over other travelers. To Salvon, it becomes a question of “would you rather go to a market with an authentic flair, or the one every traveler or tourist knows and frequents? Would you want to experience the nightlife with locals who could give you even more tips, or visit a bar teeming with travelers who are just as out of place as you?”