How to Travel Like a Local

How to Travel Like a Local

Like most things, travel has changed a lot in the last few years. We are all familiar with that traditional tourist stereotype – Panama hat, sunglasses, bulky camera around the neck, impossibly tacky dressing (cargo shorts for him; pristine white tennis outfit for her), squinting at maps on the street corner… Smile and say tourist!

That, that right there is gone. Well, almost…

These days, traveling like a local is the in-thing. Not in-thing as in the trendy thing to do, but man, aren’t we all too tired of the “tourist spots” in Rome, London and Egypt? Not that you should miss out on them (because some are pretty incredible), but you don’t have to be the ugly tourist when circumnavigating these most well-known of attractions. You can still sightsee without exhibiting those dead giveaways which only lead to people ripping you off. Here is how to travel like a local while enjoying those attractions you came all the way to see.

Ditch the Big Hotels


Today, we are fortunate to have a plethora of places to stay while on holiday. No longer are you sentenced to the 5-star, brand-name hotels which are not only costly, but also not too personable either. You can opt for alternative means of accommodation – boutique hotels, Airbnb (apartment rentals, homestay, couch surfing) you name it. These options let you live like a local. As well, they tend to offer a richer, more personalized service, with friendly staff who are always happy to recommend some great ideas you otherwise will not find on those guidebooks.

Keep it Low-key


Traveling as part of a large group comes with its benefits, but authentic experiences – the true essence of travel – is not one of them. In some countries, gaining access to places and people on your own is not always easy due to barriers to do with language, cultural, religious etc. As such, opt for a private guided tour which unlocks some truly amazing experiences without you having to figure it out on your own. You can also opt to go it alone, making use of local guides, drivers and translators if need be.

Some tour operators also limit bookings to a small group of people, going as far as to narrow it down to interests and travel styles, so another alternative to look into. Another option would be to look up websites that enable you to connect with locals who offer genuine tours of their hometown. But careful with this option because you don’t want to settle for guys who are out to make a quick buck from you.

Go Off the Beaten Path


The best travel experiences are had on the off the beaten trail where touristy types are not known to explore much. Could be the countryside, exploring neighborhoods, stopping at random shops, gracing eats that tickle your fancy and all those other things. You can always visit the big attractions, but going down the local trail will leave you with some of the most memorable images. Plus, this is always the best way to get a feel of a country. Its soul. You won’t get that from the big draws.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled


Slow down and take a look around at what the locals are up to. Where they are eating and drinking. Where they are shopping. Being observant allows you to suss out more local experiences as opposed to touristy ones.

Eat Local


It may sound obvious, but you may be surprised at the number of people who always overlook this option. It is plain sad to go to a different country and fail to sample what the local culinary scene has to offer. Do some research beforehand regarding the local delicacies and the best local spots to get them. Alternatively, ask around or pay a visit to those joints where you see locals frequenting. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you want to act, feel and look like a local, you just have to eat like one.

No matter where you go, be it New York or Guyana, travel is always more fun if you embrace the local way of life.

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