As great as travel is, feeling like a tourist is never enjoyable. It’s such a strange irony that tourism can be it’s own downfall. Overcrowded attractions, overpriced souvenirs, flashing cameras and a suspicious lack of locals leave us questioning what it is we’re here to do in the first place. Finding ways to explore places you’ve never been without feeling like a fumbling foreigner is a challenge, but not impossible.
Here are some tips to travel like a local.
Bring a Guidebook, but Don’t Rely On It
Guidebooks are a great start. For the most part, they’ll keep you away from unwanted tourist traps, scams, and follies – but they won’t get you away from the masses. To get into the true local scene, you must keep your ears open and pounce when opportunity strikes, regardless of what your guidebook says.
Take a Psychographic Walking Tour
An unusual and extreme way to get off the tourist trail is to take a psychographic walking tour. This involves taking a map from one city and using it to navigate a different city. Wait, does that work? Obviously not – but that’s the point! It encourages you to find your own unique way though a city, down streets you’d never take. I’ve tried one in my own city of Vancouver, and I found a part of my town I didn’t even knew existed.
Try to Learn the Language
When you find locals, you’ll find that they’re much more receptive to conversation if you try to speak their language. Even if you don’t know how, just making an effort is usually enough to strike up a conversation and hopefully a friendship. Ask them what they do around the city for fun, and then take their advice.
Adjust to the Timetable of the Locals
Plan your day around the local’s timetable. If they wake up early, you do too. If they take a siesta, so should you. If they stay up late, you’ll be right along side them. This can go a long way to increase your chances of an authentic local opportunity.
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