When visiting a new place, to have a truly authentic experience, you need to do what the locals do, go where the locals go.
These hidden gems can be hard to discover when you don’t know anyone from the area. So how can you find out how to go local?
These travel tips will help you walk the unbeaten path of your voyages.
Find a Willing Host
When trying to go local, it’s always best to go straight to the source. You need to find locals who will help.
Well, wait. How are you supposed to find a local to help you go local if you don’t know any locals?
Clearly, this was a common problem that many tourists encountered because someone found a way to make it a reality!
Have you heard of Couch Surfing?
This website helps people meet and stay with locals all over the world.
Finally, you can go straight to the source the safe way! This community of people receives references and/or negative reports from others who have taken their offer of hospitality.
Of course, you’ll want to do your part in being a good guest. Couchsurfing.com has clear values that they expect their members to follow. A big one is to leave things better than how you found them, so clean up after yourself!
Imagine being able to stay in the home of a true local and learn all you can about the city you are visiting from those who know it best.
Along with a couch to sleep on, you’ll often get good food and warm friendship.
Couchsurfing also organizes events all over the world that you can attend and meet other couchsurfers. Oh, the stories you’ll hear!
Play the Part
If you really want to “go local,” you need to do what you can to not stick out as a tourist. This will involve some research beforehand.
You will need to buy and wear the traditional dress of the local people. You will also want to eat traditional food. Not the regular tourist fare, but what they serve in the local homes and eateries at the market.
Don’t walk around with a guidebook. These are useless to you anyway if you are trying to take the road less traveled. These books try to keep you in the tourist traps.
This may be a tricky one, but you should learn the language of the people. Depending on where you are visiting, you might consider this a challenging feat indeed.
Remember, you don’t need to be fluent, but you should be able to ask pertinent questions, say standard greetings, and be polite.
You won’t be able to ensure that you are polite unless you learn the customs and culture. Every culture has varying opinions on what is acceptable and what is just downright rude.
Don’t Be Shy
If you want to be curious and discover new experiences, this is no time to be shy. If you are an introvert, you might have to get out of your comfort zone.
Strike up conversations. See where they take you. If you show interest in and make friends with the locals, most will enjoy helping you learn more about their homeland.
Look for opportunities to ask the right questions from the right people. You never know who will help you find your next favorite spot.
Try new things and take chances. Of course, you’ll want to use safety whenever you are in an unknown place. You should always be aware of your surroundings.
Do Your Research Before You Leave
We already touched upon the need for prior research. Let’s delve into that a bit more.
We aren’t talking about a quick google search the night before. Months before you leave on your trip, you need to be finding out everything you can about your destination.
Visit online chat sites and talk to people who have already taken a trip there or are about to go. Preferably find a site where you can communicate with the locals and accumulate as much knowledge as you can to have the best trip possible.
To help you in this endeavor, there is an app on iTunes called HiNative. You can download this app on any Apple product. You can easily find locals and carry on a very informative conversation with them.
Take Your Time
The point of “going local” is to immerse yourself in a whole different world. You can’t truly do this quickly. You need to savor your experience.
The longer you have to spend in an area, the more you’ll learn. Granted, we don’t all have unlimited time to spend traveling but do your best to take as much time as possible.
Don’t rush through an area. Look around and take it all in.
Use all five of your senses. Listen to the busy streets or the quiet wildlife. Smell and taste the delicious street food and native flora. Feel the fruits at the market and the bumps of the local architecture.
These memories will be with you for a lifetime. You want them to be clear and unforgettable.
The point of traveling should be to:
- Broaden your understanding of other people
- Experience exciting new things
- See something inspiring and life-changing
If you stick to the tourist traps when you travel, every city will start to look the same. Instead, travel like a local, and you’ll come home with memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Kelsey is from Greenville, NC and is an East Carolina University Alum. She’s a dedicated cat mom of two and has been with Grove at Auburn since July 2019. Since moving to Alabama, Kelsey has fallen in love with Auburn and the SEC life!