Authenticity is a buzz word in travel these days. Lots of folks say they want to “live like a local” when they travel — being more of a traveler than a tourist.
But how exactly do you do that? Where you eat, where you stay, and what you do in a new place can make all the difference.
We’re taking a look today at our best tips for living like a local when you travel!
Stay With the Locals
The easiest thing to do when you’re traveling is quickly book a hotel in a familiar chain. But those hotels are often located near the places in cities where tourists visit, and not where the locals live.
Booking a locally-owned accomodation, like an Airbnb or VRBO room, apartment, or house, often means you’ll be staying in a neighborhood where the locals live, work, and play, rather than in a city’s center or near a popular tourist trap.
Try Famous Local Foods
Food IS culture, so if you’re looking to live like a local, you should eat what they eat. That might mean toasted ravioli in St. Louis, brisket in Dallas, goulash in Prague, and tom kha kai in Bangkok.
Look up those local foods before your travels, or ask locals you meet for their recommendations on where to get the best of their local dishes.
Avoid Chain Restaurants
There are plenty of great chain restaurants, and there are plenty of reasons to go to them — namely, you always know what you’re going to get! But try to venture out and try local coffee shops, diners, and restaurants when you can.
In most cities, the locals can be found eating at the restaurants in their neighborhoods rather than the chains near the big shopping mall across town.
Ask Local People Where They Eat
Sure, we’re telling you not to eat at the chain restaurants, but how do you choose local restaurants? Ask! And we’re not necessarily talking about asking your hotel concierge, who is accustomed to making recommendations for tourists. Ask the hotel bell staff where they go after work for a drink. Ask your Airbnb host for recommendations. Strike up a conversation on the subway. And use the oldest trick in the book — take a look at what’s around you: The busy restaurants are probably better than the quiet ones.
If you travel frequently, you might even set a goal of finding the best of a certain food (like pizza or tacos) in every city you visit. When you talk to locals, explain that you’re on that quest, and ask for their recommendations.
Use Public Transportation
If you want to live like a local, try getting around like one!
Rideshare services and taxis are easy to book, but learning to navigate the buses or trains in a given place are going to get you closer to the local people and culture than an Uber ride in a Toyota Camry ever will.
Learn Some Language Basics
Now we’re not saying you need to be fluent in the language of every country you visit, but it will serve you well to learn a few of the basics — hello, please, thank you, how much?, and — importantly — where is the bathroom? All of these conversation starters will help you get started talking to locals while you travel.
Visit Local Parks
In Savannah, GA, there is the gorgeous Forsyth Park in the historic district that tourists visit. And then, there is Daffin Park, where locals go to exercise, play youth sports, let their children play on playgrounds, and swim at the public pool.
An afternoon in Daffin Park will probably yield you a lot more opportunity to talk to local people and get recommendations from people who have lived there a long time. The same can be said of any city — look for the neighborhood parks rather than the city’s showcase.
Take in Local Festivals
Yes, you probably want to see a Broadway show and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art at least once on your travels to New York City. But if you want to “live like the locals” there, check out the neighborhood farmer’s markets, flea markets and other events happening every weekend.
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One good way to find local festivals is by searching online for free events in a particular city, as many outdoor markets and festivals are free. Or look for local media — like a weekly newspaper — that maintains an events calendar online.
But Be Careful
There’s a fine line between “living like a local” to take in the culture of a place, and impersonating one. We’ve seen many a cringe-worthy pic of people trying to dress in the native costume of a place they don’t have ties to, and we’ve met plenty of folks who have spent 10 days in a place and want to tell you about all the cultural dos and don’ts there. Be respectful of the locals wherever you travel, make friends, collect info and experiences — but don’t be “that guy/gal,” OK?
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The post BEST Ways To Live Like a Local Wherever You Travel! first appeared on the disney food blog.