Visiting different countries – how to live like a local
If you have spent your hard-earned cash on a holiday abroad, you want to make sure that you have the best possible experience. It’s all very well visiting Times Square in New York, or throwing coins into the Trevi fountain in Rome; but how much do you actually learn about the place you are visiting if you stick to the main tourist route?
The best way to get to know a place is to mix with the locals and live like them, for at least part of the time. This can be hard to do on multi-country tours, or weekend breaks when you feel as though you need to stick to a tight schedule in order to see everything. The good news is that there are ways to make the most of a tour of different countries, while also sampling what it means to live like a local.
Do your research
The more you know about the country or countries, you are visiting, the more likely you are to make the best use of the time while you are there. Take a look at local restaurants and bars in the area where you are staying, for instance. You do not need a guidebook for this, most places have websites or Facebook pages, where you can take a look at what the local people have to say. After all, as travel writer Tim Leffel suggests, local people know the best places to eat and drink, away from venues which cater mainly for tourists. Doing this type of research means that you know the best places to go before you arrive and you get to save money, as well as spending time amongst the local community.
Learn some language and customs
You do not have to be fluent in the language if you are visiting a country, but if you are heading off to Madrid for your holidays, you are more likely to be welcomed into the local community if you at least make the effort to learn some basic Spanish words and phrases. It’s also a good idea to learn about local customs. You are not going to be able to live like a local if you unintentionally upset people with your behavior.
Stay in a residential area
It may seem like a great idea to stay in a large hotel in the city center, but it’s not the best way to experience local living. It’s a better idea to find a smaller boutique hotel on the outskirts of the city or to opt for accommodation options such as Airbnb instead. Not only do you benefit from being within a local community, but you will probably also need to use public transport to get around. It’s all part of the experience of native living.
Opt for a private tour
Most major cities have a series of group tours available, for visitors to experience. But, this is not always the best way to see the city. You will probably be rushed from one landmark to the next, and you could probably get most of the information provided by reading a guidebook. It’s worth thinking about finding a local person to show you around. You get the benefit of a more personalized tour, and they can also give you advice about things to see and do, away from the tourist route.
All of these tips can help you live like a local when you travel abroad. It’s also a good idea to find a safe area of the city and just wander. Call into local stores, have a drink with people in a bar or cafe, and simply enjoy the company of people who live there all of the time.