How to feel like a local when travelling

Escape the tourist trail and experience a place like a local on your next trip.

One of the great joys of travelling is getting to experience how people in a far-flung part of the world live. See the streets as the locals do and make the most of your holidays instead of hopping from landmark to landmark. From sipping espresso with Italians to eating street food in Asia, it can be fun to blend in with residents. Here’s how:

Do your research

Your guidebook is a good starting point, but make sure you check local media too. Time Out or local newspapers are a great resource to scope out restaurants, bars, and events through the eyes of a local.

Take a walking tour

Many walking tours are led by locals, who are happy to point out their favourite cafes, parks, and activities. Taking a walking tour the first day of your holiday will also help you get oriented in a new city.

Ask the locals

Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for their recommendations. Anyone from the hotel receptionist to your taxi driver can be fantastic resources. You could find some real hidden treasures.

Learn basic phrases

Learning basic everyday phrases will help you communicate and make finding your way that little bit easier. Even basic words such as “hello”, “excuse me”, “goodbye”, and “thank you” will make you seem more local, friendly, and respectful of the culture.

Embrace the local food

The comfort of McDonald’s may be hard to resist, but don’t be afraid to branch out. Part of travel is embracing the culture you’re in, and food makes up a large part of local culture. Do your research on local specialities; local food bloggers can be a great place to start.

Get a bird’s eye view

Visit the city’s highest point. Whether it be mountain, tower, or skyscraper, getting an overview of the city will not only give you a nice vista but also help get your bearings of the city’s layout.

Stay safe

Most of it is commonsense. Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t flash valuables, and leave your expensive jewellery at home. Ask at your hotel if it’s safe to walk at night.

Always leave an unplanned day

Always have a free day in your itinerary. You might come across a local gem you just can’t miss, or you might spend the day reading in a cafe, absorbing the street life. In either case, you’ll be glad for some breathing room, since the point of a holiday is to relax.