We’ve all heard the buzz about local travel. Trouble is, exactly how do you begin to travel more locally?
We think we can help. In our travels, we’ve found some great ways to get more involved and immersed in the places we visit.
Here are 11 ways to help you go more local on your next trip.
Live with the locals. Use an apartment rental site like Airbnb to book an apartment in a great local neighborhood. You can check reviews by fellow travelers, and Airbnb doesn’t pass on your payment to the owners until you arrive and verify the the apartment is acceptable.
Travel slow, if you can. The longer you spend somewhere, the more you can learn about the culture. Also, the longer you spend in an area, the cheaper day-to-day living becomes.
Order local foods. Or better yet, try to whip up a new, local recipe in your kitchen. If you can’t cook, take a local cooking class and get not only immersed in the food but also the local food culture.
Learn a little of the local language. TripLingo is a great place to start learning essential phrases and slang. When locals see you trying to speak their language, they’ll often open up. We’ve seen more than one smile break out on a normally taciturn face due to our failed attempts at communication. At the least they’ll appreciate your attempts at fitting in.
Talk to the locals. Strike up a conversation with your bus driver, the local family in the park or your waiter at the local cafe to start. Be open, honest and friendly. If you’re truly interested in what they have to say, you’ll be amazed how much you can communicate using hand signals and the occasional common word.
Take your kids. Children can be a great way to break the ice. When you travel with young children, you’re much more approachable and you’ll be amazed at how easy people will open up to you.
Put the guide book away, and just wander around. Our favorite memories are often not the big landmarks, but the little things we see along the way. Remember that a guide book is simply someone else’s documented findings. Their point of view and areas of interest can vary greatly from your own. If a local attraction gets only a sentence in a guide book though you find it terribly interesting then enjoy yourself and leave the giant statue that the book is raving about for another time.
Do it old school and read the local newspaper. Not only can this give you a great feel for what locals think, but the events pages are often a treasure trove of great local activities and events that your guidebook will never mention.
Take public transit. Public transit can run anywhere from open air chicken buses in the Philippines to gleaming modern subways in Taiwan, but they’ll always give you a great feel for a city and are a quick way to measure the pulse of the local population.
Run your normal errands. Go to the laundromat, the local market or the hairdresser. It’s a great way to meet people, and you’d be surprised how much fun regular shopping for everyday items can be in a new place.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”~ Bill Bryson