We’re firm believers that locals have the best recommendations on the places to see — because who’s a better expert than someone who knows their hometown’s ins and outs? When you’re traveling, it can be overwhelming to find the best places to see (or stay), but there are certain tips that an adventurer can keep in mind for finding rad places to see. Jessie Festa, the founder of Epicure & Culture, shares some of her tips on the best tips for traveling like a local:
There are a million reasons people travel and countless ways to explore this planet. Some people like to board a plane armed with a Lonely Planet travel guide and spend their vacations with an ambitious itinerary visiting all the top museums and photo spots in a city; however, travelers who don’t want to be “tourists” are seeking experiences that help them live like a local and immerse themselves in a new environment. While doing what the locals do might sound like great advice, when you’ve landed in a foreign city you may be left wondering, “now what?”
Fortunately, new apps and websites make it easier than ever before to authentically experience your destination. Even without technology, here are some simple tips for living like a local on your next trip.
Meet The Locals
The first step to living like a local on the road is meeting the residents around you — and no, the hotel receptionist doesn’t really count. To start these connections, try staying in a home instead of a hotel or a hostel. Whether or not your host is present during your visit, try to get recommendations for their favorite places.
This is a great start, though your host doesn’t need to be your only resource. Take public transportation or take a cab and chat with your driver. The more time you spend off the well-beaten tourist drag the more likely you will be to connect with new people. If you want to enlist the aid of technology, websites like Meetup can help.
Eat Where The Locals Eat
One of the best ways to connect with a new place is through your stomach. A sure-fire way to get average, overpriced food is choosing the most obvious restaurant on the main tourist drag. Don’t do that. Instead, eat where the locals eat. Search local blogs instead of consulting your guidebook. Ask your host for recommendations, seek out local markets, try the street food and/or find the food trucks. Search the internet for cooking classes or opportunities to eat in local homes. Sites like BonAppetour, EatWith, and Feastly can help with this.
If you have time and feel good about giving back, think about volunteering during your travels. Opportunities like Workaway and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (aka WWOOFing) let you help out while facilitating a cultural exchange and, perhaps, discounted and/or free food and accommodation. You can contribute your skills to the local community or build new ones, through helping on a farm, with eco-building projects, with animals, with web design, with language exchange and more. Whatever project you choose, make sure to read our guide on Volunteering SMARTER.
This post is an excerpt from a post that originally appeared on Epicure & Culture. Find two more of Jessie’s tips on Epicure & Culture here.