There are several ways of traveling and each individual has their own. I prefer to travel as a local, immersing as much as I can in the culture of the place I visit. I thought it would be nice to let you know the way we like to travel and how we organize our trips.
Every time I talk about our trips with someone and explain that normally we don’t book more than the first two nights people get a bit surprised, to say the least. I’m that kind of traveler that doesn’t go to museums, (almost) never buys guided tours, doesn’t check all the touristic see sights nor stays at an all included fancy hotel.
Read about our experiences while traveling abroad and trying our best to immerse in a country’s culture – this is our way of traveling as locals.
1. Do your research and plan
Read about your destination and learn as much as you can about its culture and traditions. Search for non-touristic spots to visit and things that only locals usually know or do.
2. Respect the place you’re visiting
Like my mom always tells me, when in Rome be a Roman. This means that if you want to belong to the place you are visiting you should adapt as much as possible to the local habits. Respect the traditions, the culture and people’s behavior. The thing is, treat that country as if it was your own.
3. Ditch the all inclusive fancy hotels
Ok, if you are looking for a relaxing kind of vacation, staying by the pool with a cocktail on your hand all day long, this is not the post for you. When we travel we like to plan our own trips, make our own itineraries and move as much as we can so we can truly get to know the place we are exploring. Especially because these hotels don’t reflect in any way the country you are in.
4. Stay at a B&B instead of a hotel
The best way of traveling like a local is definitely staying at a local’s home. Nowadays it’s so easy to find a nice apartment/bedroom and it’s cheaper too! Besides, by talking with the owner you’ll get insider tips of places to go and things do to that usually don’t come in the tourist guides. With Airbnb nowadays that is very easy. #notsponsored I wish!
5. Ditch guided tours
Okay, sometimes it’s nice to go on a tour because in a couple of hours you get to see all the famous monuments and places for which the country is known. But the best way to really know a place is to go by yourself, wander and get lost. Maybe you could also do an internet search and look for locals that are willing to show you their city from a local’s point of view.
6. Learn the local language
I don’t mean to learn the complete language, but you definitely should learn some words and phrases. Joaquim is the one who always takes charge of this part. He always learns numbers, how to say the time, basic salutations, how much is this, etc. I usually learn how to say hello and thank you, then I use my big happy smile 😀
7. Go in Low Season
Needless to say, it’s cheaper and less crowded with tourists. Win win!
8. Use Public Transportation
While you are on vacation, most locals are not, so if you want to understand their day to day, nothing is better than going on a public bus, train, tram, boat, whatever. It’s also a great place to start a conversation with a local.
9. Talk with a Local
As I said in number 4 and number 8, talking with a local is the best way to get tips that don’t show up in your guide. Don’t be afraid, just start the conversation by asking something you need to know and then keep asking questions as the conversation unfolds.
10. Chat with a Taxi Driver
Taxi drivers seem to know it all, don’t they? And usually they like to talk too 😉
11. Eat that food
Food says a lot about a place, its culture and its people. Along with the language, food is one of the best ways to really get to know the country you are visiting. What’s the point of eating food that you can have in your normal daily life? You don’t know if you are going to like it or not until you try it.
12. Don’t be extreme
Not always do we have the time to truly immerse in the country’s culture, so maybe, sometimes, it’s nice to visit the touristic see sights too. I mean, going to Paris and not going up in the Eiffel tower is almost a crime, right? We did that, by the way, we can’t stand long lines, sorry… But we stood under it and wandered around and saw a great dance show performed by street kids. It was equally awesome!
13. Wander, Get lost, Observe
This is me. I love to wander with no specific destination. Walk slowly, observe the buildings and the passers. I love to have a beverage while seating at a terrace and just observe everything and everyone that surrounds me. I get lost all the time and it’s not my favorite thing to do when I must go somewhere. But when I’m traveling and I have nothing planned, I do enjoy getting lost.
So now, pack your bags and go travel as a local! Here’s a FREE PRINTABLE TRAVEL CHECKLIST just for you, I hope you enjoy it!
Download and print the version you like the most, with or without some text.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to add to my list of how to travel as a local? How do you usually travel? Leave your comments and let me know!
Cover image by Lizzie Guilbert.