TravelPrecheck.org has found there are many travelers who want to live like a local and not a tourist when they travel. They want to experience the culture, people and way of life of their vacations spot. After you have chosen your destination, do some research and keep an open mind about your experience. Don’t judge someone else’s culture, but instead try and understand it the way you’d want them to understand yours. Regardless of where you’re going, remember to always respect the local traditions, tastes, sound and looks. You may not live there but other people do, so always be respectful. Use the following tips to get the best local experience during your travels.
Before even arriving at your destination, conduct research on the local culture, eateries and customs. This will give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. Find popular resident hot spots and check them out for yourself. Since these are resident hot spots, they will be full of locals that can suggest more awesome places to check out.
- Avoid Tourist Attractions
Major attractions like the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building are intended to lure tourists in and aren’t full of locals. Visiting monuments and other historical sites isn’t an everyday activity in which residents normally engage. You should try and fit these excursions into your schedule if it’s your first time visiting, but don’t make it a focus of your trip if you’re looking to get a local experience.
- Connect with Locals
TravelPrecheck.org suggests connecting with locals who can guide you along your trip. Always use precaution when meeting new people. Try exchange programs and local classes to meet people. Most tourist destinations have friendly residents that can show you great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars. They want you to experience their culture and understand their way of life, so offering advice is their pleasure.
- Stay in Small Neighborhoods
If you want to live like a local, rent their home. Use rental sites where residents list their home for your use. TravelPrecheck.org finds that many hosts will give recommendations and are even willing to spend time with you to show you around. This allows you to be surrounded by residents and not tourists. This also helps to avoid tourist traps in more congested areas.
- Put Away the Camera
Pictures last but memories are forever. Being in a new place its instinct to want to take a picture of everything but this can take away from the experience. Ignore your photography and phone for a bit and truly enjoy the sites. While you’re at it, TravelPrecheck.org also encourages you to stay off social media.
- Learn the Language
Traveling domestically this is not an issue but for foreign travel this is a major tool to have. Start with key phrases like greetings, apologies, directions, numbers and expressions of gratitude such as ‘thank you’. Next, learn food and drink phrases. Don’t be scared to practice your newly-acquired language skills in real life situations, locals appreciate the effort and will respond to the best of their knowledge. You don’t have to be fluent to be able to get around.
- Public Transportation
If you want to see how the residents live life daily, use their preferred method of travel. Stay away from taxis and ride sharing services. Take the subway or bus to see how it feels even if you get lost. You will also see more on a bus ride than if you were driving. Try public transportation at least once during your trip.
- Visit a Local Market
TravelPrecheck.org finds that tourists don’t usually visit markets while on vacation and they’re missing out on the unique culture found in these strips. You can even get samples and find souvenirs to take home. Residents shop and sell here and what better way to get to know them than by indulging in their food. What a person eats is a major part of their life. You will also learn of other places to visit by speaking to the locals in the market.