We must have written this about a hundred times: travelling means trying to experience life as the locals of the country we visit do. This should be one of the rules you should follow if you want to have an experience, as opposed to just a holiday. We collected some tips and secrets to travel like a local, and not like just any tourist. Ready?
– Do your research before you leave
Did you pick your destination? Good. Then, proceed to do your homework before you book. The best way is to search the Internet as well as social networks: Facebook features a lot of expat groups that live in the country you are going to visit, and that can become a connection between you and your destination. Don’t hesitate to ask for tips and information… And who knows, maybe if you get lucky someone will decide to take you on a tour!
– Avoid hotels
Figuring out where to sleep is obviously always one of the first things we do once we pick our destination, and if you really want to live like a local, one things is for sure: you must avoid hotels. Choosing a home on AirBnB is probably the best solution, because this will allow you to stay in a local’s home, see their furniture, see what they eat and how they sleep — that will already be a big step ahead. If you are feeling bold, move on to the next paragraph.
For those of you who don’t know it, Couchsurfing is a free hospitality exchange that is widely used by young people, and by adults too, over the last few years. This can be a good way to find accommodation, but if you don’t feel like taking it so far, you can also use the network differently: get in touch with the hosts, who are usually welcoming, kind, open-minded people, and invite them out for coffee, or for a chat to get the lowdown about the city. If you get lucky, they might become your guide!
– Metros beat taxis
Another essential thing you should do to live like a local is to avoid cabs, and use public transport instead. Metros, buses, funiculars, trams, these are the forms of transport that will probably make you feel more connected to the place where you are. And… They are also a lot cheaper!
– Travel in low season
If you get the chance to leave for your holidays in low season, do it! It is exactly at this time of the year that cities become more liveable: churches, temples and generally all sightseeing locations are less crowded than usual, and locals might also be more welcoming and less irritable, as they will not be as stressed out by the tourist invasion. You will experience daily local life 100%.
– Get lost
Leave all maps at home, put your phone on airplane mode, and start wandering aimlessly. Get lost among the city streets, walk and let the crowd lead your way: what better way to get to know the more unusual parts of a place? If you can’t find your way back, ask someone for information: it will be yet another chance to start a conversation.
– Eat and cook
Needless to say, try to go to places as traditional as possible, to test local fare: that should be obvious. If you stay in a house, go shopping for local produce, and get experimenting, trying to reproduce a local dish.
– Treat your holiday destination as you treat your home
We left this last not because it is less meaningful, but because we want to conclude our post with an important message: respect the environment as if it were home!