Monuments, museums, sightseeing buses, and packed schedules can be a thing of your past when you decide to stop traveling like a tourist and start living like a local instead. You can choose to enjoy leisurely mornings and afternoons instead of rushing from one place to another as you try to keep up with your unreasonable vacation schedule. You’ll discover things about your travel destination, the people who live there, and maybe even yourself that you’ll never experience if you stick with the tourist attractions.
Here are 8 ways to get a more authentic feel for your travel destination by living like a local:
1 Choose Local Transportation
You might feel like it is easier to hop into a taxi when you are traveling, but then you will miss out on some entertaining conversations and useful advice. Buses and subways are full of locals, and those people are more than willing to share lots of information with you if you simply ask! You may find yourself exiting the bus or subway with the name of a restaurant to try for dinner or a little off the path destination that has the best entertainment.
2 Eat the Local Cuisine
You might be tempted to stop in at the chain restaurants that you walk by during your travels, but you would be missing out on some delicious food that is often much cheaper. The locals know how to eat, and they can tell you where to find the best food. A good place to start is the farmer’s market, which will be full of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other local favorites. The vendors will be happy to share information with you about the foods you know nothing about, so ask as many questions as you want. See that tiny, hole in the wall restaurant with the line of locals out the door? Give it a try!
3 Drink Like a Local
Certain countries and cities are known for their specific drinks or spirits. You just have to try the national drink of the countries you visit. Find a bar that specializes in their most famous cocktail. You will have a once in a lifetime experience while celebrating the level of human ingenuity and imagination when it comes to alcohol.
4 Stay Locally
You might be tempted to stay in the middle of everything when you are traveling, but you might want to consider staying outside of the tourist areas for a more local experience. Renting a place through Airbnb might be a better option than a hotel, as you can be in a neighborhood with locals instead of the middle of a city with other tourists. Plus, you will often have a kitchen that allows you to hit the neighborhood markets and save a bundle over eating out for every meal.
5 Dress Traditionally
You won’t need to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe, but you may want to pick up a few new items to wear while you are staying in an area with a different culture. You can take your cues of how to dress from the locals that you see and if you are unsure of something, you can always ask someone that you meet! Particularly, you want to be aware that dress in some destinations may be much more conservative than at home. Don’t be an offensive visitor, wearing flip flops or a miniskirt to a cathedral.
6 Connect Locally
You have the same opportunities to meet people when you are traveling as you do when you are home, so take the time to do it. Start conversations about the things that matter, and you will be amazed at what you will learn about local cultures and traditions. As a bonus, you will find yourself with new friends that you can stay in contact with for years in the future. Don’t speak the language? Most locals appreciate it when visitors make an effort to communicate and you’ll find that English is commonly spoken in many places around the world.
7 Find an Interesting Place to Visit
There are going to be tons of interesting places to visit everywhere that you go, but they are not all going to be on any tourist map or in any guide book. You may find yourself wanting to visit a museum when you are in one city, because you love the history that is displayed inside. However, in the next area that you visit, you may be more interested in hanging out at a local park or the botanical gardens. The goal is to see the places that interest you the most and not worry about the ones that you will not enjoy.
8 Lose Your Schedule
No local ever lives by a schedule, unless they are working, so you will want to lose yours when you are on vacation. Take the time to sit down with a cup of coffee at a local café in the morning or spend that extra time staring out over the water at the beach. If you are enjoying yourself, then that is what you are supposed to be doing at that moment. Sometimes the most interesting part of a trip is an unplanned, unexpected discovery made by wandering aimlessly.
Vacations are times to make memories, but you can overdo it if you are trying to do too much in a short amount of time. You should consider changing your mindset when traveling and start living like a local instead of acting like a tourist. You’ll find that you are much more relaxed during your trip and you will get much more out of your experiences at the same time.