Do you dream of or seek to travel like a local? It’s a great way to experience a city or destination and with many trips under my belt I’m sharing tips in this post.
When you travel do you;
- wander local markets or grocery stores to find dinner?
- enjoy picking up a local paper to see what events are happening?
- visit a park or beach to relax?
- do more than just run around in a few days to see everything?
- participate instead of pay a visit?
If you said yes to any (or all) of these than you like to travel like a local! More and more travelers actively seek and want to have a local travel experience. Travel has become less about checking things off a list and more about having meaningful experiences wherever you are.
This kind of travel is different from how travel “used to be done.” Previously it was commonplace to work with a travel agent to develop a detailed itinerary, and then set out. Today’s travelers have the benefit of the internet and are traveling more frequently. It’s just so much easier now to embark on different methods of travel and lodging while looking for a different experience.
How To Travel Like A Local (Wherever You Go)
A local experience
So how do you have a local experience when you’re, well, not a local?
It’s probably very obvious that if you want to live like a local you have to slow down and spend some time in a place. Instead of wanting to visit the entire country of France in a 10 day vacation, it’s much more manageable and realistic to stick to one region, or even one city. Slowing down gives you time to adjust, get your bearings, and do some searching. It also gives you enough time to begin understanding the place and culture in which you’ve arrived. This is how my husband and I travel and enjoy being based in one location, taking day trips from there.
Do Some Research
Some people like to book a ticket and arrive somewhere with no plans at all. Others prefer to have some ideas about what to do and see. We happen to be the later, but we don’t think that traveling like a local means having no plan at all! I’m the planner of the family and it’s always worked well for us. When going somewhere new, I typically start my research by asking my friends online and in real life if they’ve been to that place and what they recommend. Inevitably someone has and offers up what they liked or disliked. Next I take it to social media.
Using social media for travel research
Pinterest and Instagram are my first stops for social research but for different reasons and in different ways. Other social media that can be helpful includes crowdsourcing sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, though these two come in more handy later in the planning process.
On Pinterest (find me on Pinterest HERE) I simply type in the destination to get started. I see what comes up. Filter through what looks interesting. It might be pictures or links to stories. I click through and read some. Repin and save some for later and my research starts spiraling out to other suggestions. For example, researching Seville for a possible upcoming trip, I saw by clicking through some pins, that tapas were a big deal. Great! Next, I start searching for Seville and Tapas to read further. I decide I want to do that and add it to my list of things to-do.
With Instagram (find me on Instagram HERE) I do something similar, but different. In the Instagram search I start with the city. Hashtags are the way to find targeted information so I will search for example, #santorini or #cinqueterre to find pictures related to the city or region. I scroll through and see what looks interesting. Hopefully the user has added a description or tagged the location so I can find that place too. If I see someone that is sharing several pictures from the same location I’ll go look at their profile. Many times they’re a local and I know they’ll be a great source of insider information. Click Follow! Instagram also has a feature that lets you get notifications from people.
Click on a profile – then click the 3 little dots next to their display name. On the screen that pops up you’ll see a “turn on post notifications” option. Select that.
Whenever they share something new you’ll get a notification. If you don’t want notifications any longer, go through the same process but select turn off post notifications.
If you’re looking for travel inspiration, try some great hashtags like
Just like you can follow people, you can now follow hashtags. So if you find one that is helpful for your trip planning follow it and get more inspiration.
Local tourism boards typically also have hashtags that they use – a great spot to get ideas!
Pulling it together
While I love technology I usually use pen and paper for keeping my ideas together. Going back to the Seville tapas example, if I knew it was something I was interested in I would google Tapas in Seville to see what comes up. Then I would do some research of the companies on TripAdvisor and articles that come up mentioning them. This helps me make a decision.
When I do have reservations in place I store them in the TripIt app. This keeps all of my trip details in one place and eliminates the clutter of loads of print outs.
Get to Know Locals
This isn’t always easy but thanks to the internet we have the ability to connect with people as never before. You might find out one of your Facebook friends has a cousin in your destination city and get connected. They can share their favorite hints and tips. I’ve gotten together with blog friends around the world and have met up with some of my friends from Instagram who are great local resources.
My dear friend Tania’s beautiful French country home.
Travel Like A Local – Stay Local
Instead of booking a hotel on your next trip go with a more local option like AirBnB or HomeAway. We have been using both for years and have had no issues to report. We do prefer AirBnB over HomeAway though and love the option of staying with Super Hosts. Always check the host reviews before booking and read their individual policies. With one of our daughters living in San Francisco, we head out there every couple of months. We stay exclusively in AirBnBs and check the local neighborhoods first. This was a great rental that we stayed in and it doesn’t get any better than a restored Victorian!
Shopping in the local markets for our meals and visiting local cafes for breakfast, gives you a different feel for the city. We have spent some of those trips in a hotel and the feeling was much different, not to mention it’s more expensive.
Traveling locally can take a little more work but the payoffs are huge. You not only get to see, but experience a different way of life. That’s priceless and a much more enjoyable way to travel!