Travelling has evolved a lot since our adolescent days. Visiting touristy attractions were possibly the main agenda back then, but most of us now are no longer satisfied with the mere act of ticking off these iconic sightseeing places.
Instead, an increasing number of travellers are craving for an authentic local experience and immersing themselves in the lives of natives.
Perhaps the need to “escape” is no longer present for we now feel the need to educate ourselves with foreign cultural experiences – which really isn’t a bad thing. From living in a local town, partaking in cooking classes, sampling street food to walking whenever possible, here are 13 ways to live like a local while one is on a vacation.
For a true-blue experience of living like a local, rent either an entire apartment or private room from the locals. We highly recommend rent lodging website Airbnb for some local hosts provide the most amazing dining recommendations!
This enables travellers to get a taste of life as a local and explore surroundings of a foreign destination’s local neighbourhood like never before.
#2 COOKING CLASSES
Regardless of whether it is a half-day class, one-week workshop or a month-long course, cooking classes are a great way to learn about a destination’s culture and cuisine.
It is also during these interactive activities that you will pick up some lingo, make friends and also learn precious skills of replicating local delicacies.
#3 DITCH THE GUIDEBOOK
While a destination guidebook’s primary purpose is to facilitate one’s travels, we have also realised that most recommendations are geared towards touristy ones. To avoid tourist traps, we suggest you avoid over relying on the guidebooks and try an alternative route instead i.e. ask the locals you encounter for suggestions.
#4 DRESS UP LIKE THE LOCALS
Instead of sticking out like a sore thumb with very touristy outfits, why not do some research in advance on your designated destination and try to dress up like the locals?
Fake it ’till you make it! Avoid wearing tacky straw hats and floral printed shirt or else you might end up attracting pickpockets and scammers.
#5 EXCHANGE HOMES
There are several online websites such as Home Exchange and Love Home Swap that allow travellers to temporarily exchange their houses.
For those not in the know, it essentially means that you get to live in someone else’s home and the other party gets to live in yours. It’s a win-win situation and you get to save up.
#6 MAKE FRIENDS WITH NATIVES
You never know what striking up a conversation at wherever you are could lead to. Humans are inherently good by nature and chances are, your new friend could bring you to the coolest places in town.
Of course, always trust your gut instincts and never befriend someone whom you think is potentially dangerous.
#7 MOBILE APPS
Thanks to the advancement of technology, we now have access to the insider’s news at the tip of our fingers. Some app would feature only locally-owned restaurants while some provide tips on cities by locals themselves.
#8 PICK UP THE NATIVE LANGUAGE
Picking up a foreign language from scratch with no prior knowledge is tough, but it goes a long way when you know the key basic words.
Alternatively, why not take it to a whole new level by learning it from a language center? Your new lifelong skill could definitely help you heaps to blend in when travelling around.
#9 READ LOCAL PRESSES
For the most up-to-date information, browse through the newspaper stands and local hipster cafes for brochures and magazines. It is through these local presses that you will uncover a trove of information on the city’s upcoming events, hottest dining destinations and more.
#10 SAMPLE STREET FOOD
It is time to step out of your comfort zone and start sampling local street food on the streets itself!
This might be a daunting experience for the reserved, especially when the specific dish is particularly funky. But it is through food that you get to learn about a destination’s history, geography and demography.
#11 VISIT LOCAL GROCERS AND MARKETS
Visiting different local grocery stores and markets is an eye-opening experience. These places pose a great opportunity for travellers to check out the local communities and catch a glimpse of their livelihoods.
You are also bound to chance upon many products that you have never seen in your own hometown.
Volunteering vacations are extremely common these days. If you have the time and energy to spare, why not join one of these service-based vacations where you can join the locals to build homes, teach kids or sort food donations etc.
Volunteers get to make a positive difference and meet new local friends.
#13 WALK WHENEVER POSSIBLE
While taking a private taxi could potentially save time, walking in between point A and point B (assuming it isn’t too far) could actually reveal many hidden gems you would have otherwise not known about.
Most local eateries are tucked away in small obscure streets and would be easily missed if you are driving or on a car.