For some people, traveling is about getting an authentic experience. It’s about learning genuine things about a place and its people.
While there are various ways to achieve that, every method provides a different level of exposure to people. Some prefer to go around a place in groups wearing matching outfits and led by a tourist guide with a flag. On the other hand, there are people who prefer to be low-key tourists when traveling.
Tourists must be at terms with the fact that they can never be locals when they are just visiting. This, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t experience a place as authentically as locals know it to be. To give you an idea, here are some tips to help you travel like a local.
Get to know the place in advance
It is handy for travelers to go to the library or use Google to research about the place they are planning to visit. Find blogs, reviews or comments from people who have been to the area and try to learn from their experiences. Knowing an area in advance is probably the most important preparation any traveler can do.
Don’t do a bus tour for the entire journey
If you really want to get more out of your trip, it’s best if you don’t fully rely on tours to take you everywhere that’s on your itinerary. Although bus tours are informative and entertaining, it will cause you to miss out on handling transactions on your own.
Some might think that’s a good thing since negotiating with other people and dealing with foreign currencies is intimidating and confusing. With package tours, a tourist will need not worry about itineraries, meals, tickets, transportation and stops. What they just need to do is join the tour.
Make friends with a local
It is common for travelers to visit a foreign land and not know anyone from the place. It is also quite difficult to befriend a stranger there since there isn’t any assurance of their trustworthiness. Despite this, you should still give it a try. Like with any type of interaction, being open while remaining alert and cautious will help.
Having a local friend is better than just going around with a tour guide. A local can help you find the best places in the area that can give you more than the usual tourist encounter.
And even though the world can sometimes be a scary place for people who wander, keep in mind that there are still people who won’t hesitate to lend a hand.
Find a host family
Staying in a hotel will put you in an area with a high concentration of tourists. Although convenient, this will not give you a legitimate feel of the place.
If you want to live like a local, even for just a short period, then you should consider living with the locals. As a solution, you can try looking for a host family. There are travel packages that can arrange your request. They will find willing and registered host families who can accommodate you while you’re in their area.
If you find it difficult to meet a reliable host, your next best option is to look for an Airbnb rental or anything similar to that. This kind of arrangement will provide you the opportunity to interact with the locals better.
Take the public transportation
Some countries have confusing and even risky public transportation. That is why it is best for travelers to get to know a place beforehand so that they can have a good idea on how to go about the city. After all, it is better to use public transportation if you really want to experience what locals do and how they go about their everyday lives.
Dress the part
Another important reminder for anyone traveling to a different country is to dress the part. Get a feel of how it is to live locally by wearing something that fits the environment and the culture.
If a place is rather conservative, then dress conservatively. If it is alright to walk around the city in a plain t-shirt, a pair of slippers and shorts, then do that. Otherwise, a traveler would stick out of the crowd and look more like a tourist.
Learn key phrases and local customs
To facilitate better communication, learn some important local customs or even just a few words in the local tongue. Doing so will help you connect better to the people in the area.
Be ready to wander. Sometimes, it is good to take a little detour, change something in your itinerary, get lost a little or be spontaneous. Doing these things, however, does not mean you have to be reckless. Be cautious, but be ready to wander. That adds to the whole experience of traveling like a local.
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Author: Stephanie Wheatley
Stephanie Wheatly is a designer, entrepreneur and budding writer who has a strong passion for art. Stephanie also likes to express her emotions through her designs and articles. She started working for a small retail business while she was in college and eventually fell in love with branding. During her free time, she likes to go online to look for cute dresses and boots.