In cities all around the world, tourists get a really bad rap. Locals get annoyed with tourists taking up too much space, crowding public transportation, and taking selfies everywhere. Don’t get us wrong, there’s a time and a place to be a tourist, especially when you’re new to the travel lifestyle. If, however, you’re a frequent flyer, you might want to keep a little lower profile. Traveling like a local provides a different experience of a place than traveling like a tourist. Here are 5 tips for traveling like a local.
Ask friends for recommendations
The easiest way to travel like a local is to ask for recommendations from friends who… are locals. If you live in a city, you typically socialize at locally-owned neighborhood spots. As a traveler, these are exactly the places and events you might miss if you do all of your research on travel blogs. Sure, those blogs are right some of the time, but every other traveller is reading the same list. This is why so many tourists congregate in the same spots, and why locals avoid those spots like the plague. If you’re hoping to have a lowkey night out on the town, following your friend’s recommendations will be your best bet.
Dive bars and hole in the wall spots
Even if you don’t have local friends, you can still find some great establishments with a little research. We recommend sticking to dive bars and smaller eateries. For example, the best Texas barbecue won’t be in a celebrity chef’s new restaurant, but it might be in a gas station. These spots may not look like much on the outside, and they don’t always get great ratings online, but that’s exactly why you should be heading inside. Here you’ll find frosty mugs of beer and cheap, delicious food for a third of the price that you would at a larger chain restaurant. Bonus: your patronage really helps these establishments survive. Many of the smaller, locally-owned places fell on hard financial times during the pandemic, and are working hard to recover.
Avoid tourist trap activities
When considering paying for an activity on vacation, ask yourself this question. Would I do this in my own hometown? If the answer is no, you’re probably walking into a tourist trap. We hate to break it to you, but generally, locals don’t ride double-decker busses or take pictures of famous people’s homes. As a rule, do your best to avoid anything advertised by cardboard cutouts, if your goal is to look like you belong.
In large cities, there are plenty of exciting parties, events, and exhibits happening all the time. These events will probably be cooler, more intimate, and less expensive than the large tourist activities we just mentioned. Typically, they won’t be advertised on larger travel blogs but you can find them on social media if you know where to look. For the inside scoop, hop onto Instagram and search out some relevant hashtags. This will bring you to the profiles of spots that are targeting younger locals, neighborhood folks who you will actually enjoy sharing space with.
Skip peak season
If your destination is well known and you’re traveling at the height of summer, you might want to rethink your plans. Even if you book a nice room in one of the greater Miami beach hotels, the area will be so overcrowded that you won’t be able to enjoy yourself at all. Many locals actually get out of town during the peak season, because tourists can be overwhelming. Travelling in the off season might get you slightly worse weather, but it will make your overall experience much more pleasant.
Follow these 5 tips to have a low-key, local travel experience.