Have you ever gone on a vacation, covered EVERYTHING on your itinerary and yet felt you haven’t experienced the culture of the city? Or returned from a vacation so tired that you felt the need to go on another vacation? It is all about how you treat your holiday. If you treat your vacation with a “To-do List” strategy, then how would it be any different from any other day at work?!
If you genuinely want to blend in and get the real taste of a new city, what helps, is travelling in the city as if you actually live there! Like you have been living in it for a couple of years, yet thirsty to know more about it.
So, if you wish to drop the “Top 10 Places to See In…” or “Best Things to Do In…” approach and go pro in travelling like a local, here’s your guide!
Here’s How You Can Travel Like a Local, And Not Like A Tourist
1. Use public commute that the locals use
Say NO to private taxis and other tourist commute options. Hop on the public conveyance the locals use for everyday travel. By doing this, you will save a fortune as public transport is very cheap in most of the places. Find out how people in the city move around. See if there is a metro, a city bus, or a tram service that you can depend upon.
2. ‘Flaneur’ around the city
‘Flaneur’ – (French) – A person who strolls the city in order to experience it. Deliberately aimless.
Get up a little early or take out some time in the evening to take a stroll around the city, on foot, aimlessly. Having music as a companion is great, but we would suggest, do not put on your earphones. Listen to the voice of the city, instead!
P.S. Check the distance of the place you want to go to. Walk away, if it is at a walkable distance!
3. Scared of trying the local cuisine? Do it anyway!
You are in a new place to try new things. So, do not shy away from trying the food they have on offer. Ask around about the must-try delicacies of the city and hog on, unapologetically! Also, ask the locals about the most famous places for breakfast or meals, where they usually tend to eat! Generally, these places serve the best and most authentic (probably cheaper) local food.
4. Wander in the local markets of the city
Imagine entering a local market in a country you barely know the language of, and you have to get what you want! Asking around for more variety, digging deeper and exploring what the market has in store for you and not to forget, bargaining! Sounds challenging, eh? But is fun for sure too! You don’t necessarily have to purchase something if you don’t wish to, but just the whole experience would be worthwhile.
5. Stay in a hostel or homestay, instead of a hotel
Dump the idea of lavish hotels and consider staying in a homestay. Airbnb lists out spectacular properties for homestays. This will get you in touch with a local whom you could bond with and get out all the secrets about the city! Check out the reviews before you book one, they are helpful. You can also try staying in a hostel where you could get a chance to meet other people, from different parts of the world. If your agendas are aligned, you might end up finding a travel partner! Plus, hostels and homestays are way cost-effective than hotels.
6. Attend events or carnivals happening in the city
This could be pretty exciting! Research about upcoming events in that particular city around the time of your visit. Plays, awaited concerts, funfairs, carnivals or workshops, and anything else that you find intriguing, RSVP (even if there is a language barrier)! Find out ways to connect and catch the pulse of the city.
7. Get a Different Cinematic Experience
Catch a movie in the oldest/most known theatre in town. Ditch the multiplex. Of course, when you are travelling, watching a movie would be the last thing on your list (or maybe, not even on the make-it-to-the list), but if you do, it wouldn’t be the worst idea. You might get to understand how people living in the city react to different scenarios and what type of cinema they enjoy. If the city offers something offbeat, such as open-air cinema or movie screenings, go for it!
8. Talk to cab drivers
Believe us when we say this, local cab drivers have an unfathomable amount of knowledge about their cities, a lot more than you can imagine! They probably have been living in the city for decades. They are a resource you should know how to treasure! So, be polite, respectful, and friendly. Talk to them about stuff you can do and find out the must-visit restaurants!
9. Try visiting the place during “off-season”
To some extent, this will help you to NOT come across as an obvious tourist. Of course, you need to keep track of the weather conditions and cannot visit when it is raining or snowing too heavily. But if nature is by your side, visiting your favourite holiday destination a week or a month before (or after) the “season” is a great idea. Cheaper flights, cheaper accommodation, probably cheaper food and most importantly, fewer tourists!
10. Go tourist-y sometimes!
Well, that is what you actually are! Sure, you want to experience the life of locals and blend in, but if you have come to a new city, you HAVE to see the MOST famous places, right? For example, if you are visiting France, you want to see the Eiffel Tower, or Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or Times Square in New York! You don’t have to get on a Hop-on-Hop-off bus that will consume your whole day (or you can if you have an ample amount of time). But squeeze out time for the gems, somehow and anyhow!
11. Be OK with tweaking your PLAN for the day
You are on a vacation and not on a business trip. You don’t have any obligation to stick to a schedule (unless you have opted for a guided tour). Allow yourselves a few detours. Saw a cute cafe? Grab a chair and enjoy their special delicacy. Karaoke Night in the lounge on a close-by street? Sing your night away! Do not bound yourself on a trip where you have come to set yourself free!
12. Do your homework
Though we encourage you to be a little spontaneous, we would ask you to not go rogue and take the place for granted. Prepare yourself for the place you are visiting. Read a little about the customs, traditions, and basic acceptable norms of the place. You also do not want to miss out on the cliched yet awesome things to do in a particular city or a country. So make sure your research is thorough. Brownie points if you learn the lingo and speak bits and pieces of the local language. Trust us, it will take you a long way!