Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler. I’ve come up with a list of 10 things to help you live like a local, to be a traveler instead of a tourist. I hope it can help you with a fun, local experience. Maybe even to help you try something new.
Carry a bag that just looks like a regular purse or grocery bag. Don’t carry a “regular” laptop or camera bag.
If you’re in a city where everyone is dressed up and you are the only one in a Hawaiian print shirt you’ll probably stand out in the crowd. Research the dress before you go and it will help you fit right in.
Take public transport. It’s easier than you think to figure out the best taxi’s to take or the metro routes. If you don’t understand where the train goes just ask someone. It’s a fun experience to see how the locals travel.
Take a train or bus instead of a plane. If it’s a close by location a couple hours on the road can let you see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Seeing the countryside can be really rewarding. In fact, if you really want to see things as a local rent a car take the backroads. With Google Maps Offline you can get anywhere you need to go with ease. It’s easier than you think to get around in a foreign place. Plus it’s fun. To me, new things make me feel like a kid again. I like figuring things out even if they make me a bit frustrated.
Don’t wear your fanciest jewels if you are in a non-developing country. Being flashy isn’t going to impress but make you a target for theft. Usually when I travel I don’t wear my diamonds or really big sparkly things. I don’t want to lose them on my own or have any temptation for them to be stolen. I once had a friend have a ring stolen during a massage appointment. I’d hate that to happen for me or for you.
Stay in a house or apartment. You don’t need to stay in a hotel to have a really good experience. You can get more space staying in your own house or apartment plus you might meet some really cool neighbors. Vacasa or AirBnB are good sites to check out for rentals.
Take a cooking class or cook in your own kitchen. Learn a new dish or cuisine that you can incorporate into your routine back at home.
Get advice on where to eat from asking the locals. Ask at a local business where they like to eat lunch or dinner, that’s where you should go. Don’t always go where the travel books tell you to go. I’ve found some really amazing places to eat by going out to eat on the recommendations of friends or locals.
Try hiking or camping on your vacation. I once camped in a field of kangaroos. I wouldn’t have that experience if I didn’t go camping. Although, I have also stayed in a resort in Africa where I woke up to a field of zebras that I could see through the wall of windows. Both were equally amazing experiences. I guess it’s fun to do different things.
Check out websites like Couchsurfing or HomeAway. You could either trade houses or stay with a local. Neither are as scary as they sound. In fact, you could meet a friend for life or have a house to exchange with every year if you both like the locations. It’s a win-win. Plus, it gets you a little outside your comfort zone and that is truly the place you want to be. It’s where the magic happens. If you prefer to try working while you are away you can volunteer instead of staying with locals.
I talk about a lot of these things in my guide book in more detail. If you like what you just read and haven’t read the guide yet you should check it out. Or maybe gift it to a friend for the holidays. It’s now in paperback!