How to live like a local when you travel
Travelling broadens our horizons and teaches us about how other nationalities live around the world, but do you ever truly immerse yourself in the local culture when you visit a new destination? We’ve looked into how you can fully embrace the ‘four L’s’ on the road: Life, Live, Love and Local.
Live like a local wherever you go in the world with our tips for authentic travel.
Do your research
The more you learn about your destination before the trip, the easier it will be to blend in with the locals. Before you jet off, research basic things like local dress codes, manners and tipping culture. This will stop you causing offence accidentally, and it’s easier to make friends with locals if you’ve done your background work. If you want to dig deeper into your destination before you get there, websites such as Like A Local Guide have a wealth of tips about best sights, bars, restaurants and shops in various cities, all submitted by other travellers and locals. Research like this means you can skip the tourist traps and experience the real local gems.
Eat like a local
It’s an age-old vacation tip, but it still makes sense: only eat in places that the locals are eating in when you travel. If a restaurant or café is filled with locals who know the place inside out, it’s a good signal that it’s got a good reputation (and is less likely to leave you with food poisoning). There’s nothing authentic about jostling with fellow tourists in a fast food chain abroad, right? Eat like a local by ordering local dishes and being open to tasting new foods. If you’re staying in self-catered accommodation, stop by the local markets for fresh, delicious produce and don’t be afraid to pick up a fruit or veggie that you don’t recognise - the vendor can usually explain how to serve it!
Image Credit: Buro.
Learn the local lingo
Communicating with locals is so important if you want to live like a local, so brush up on the language before you go! Free language learning apps like Duolingo make it easy to squeeze learning a new language into your day, so there’s really no excuse to turn up in a foreign country and exclusively speak English. By at least attempting a few key phrases in the local tongue, you’ll elicit more smiles from the people you meet. You’re also more likely to save money when haggling at markets if you have some local vocabulary under your belt.
Cook like a local
One of the best ways to learn about local cuisine when you travel is to take a cookery class in your destination. Cooking courses are becoming more and more popular in every corner of the globe as travelling foodies seek to learn to whip up the dishes that are served in all the local restaurants in the countries they visit. You can whip up a mean curry dish in India or learn how to make fresh pasta in Italy. You’ll get to spend time with local chefs and come away with a delicious new recipe up your sleeve - the ultimate souvenir, right?
Image Credit: SBS.
Take a tour run by locals
Ok, so it might feel contradictory to book a tour if you’re trying to act like a local, but it makes sense to do this at the beginning of your trip. A tour that’s run by locals equips you with lots of insider knowledge that will allow you to get the most out of your trip, and it helps support the local economy. Websites like Live With Locals specialise in locally-led tours that offer authentic experiences in destinations around the world, from food tours to street art walks and more in-depth cultural experiences, like visiting hill tribes in Thailand. In Dubai, where the population is predominantly expats, you could book a tour that will give you some insight into Emirati culture, because it isn’t easy to learn about otherwise.
Image Credit: Go Away.
Travel like a local
Sure, Uber is handy - but the best way to truly experience a destination is by getting around using public transport! From rickshaws in India to the London Underground, taking the same transport as the local masses is an excellent opportunity to live like a local abroad. It’s also usually cheaper and has great people-watching opportunities!
Image Credit: Fripito.
Stay like a local
Accommodation is one of the great dividers between the average tourist and travellers who want to live like locals. Tourists stay in hotels and hostels, but authentic travellers know how to find holiday rentals that enable them to feel like a real local - at least for the duration of their stay. By staying in a house or apartment in a local neighbourhood, you’ll have a more authentic experience of the destination.
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