‘Go where the locals go’. This is a phrase that many a traveller will have echoing in their minds. Ask someone where the best place to eat is? ‘Go where the locals go’ will be your answer. Ask for the most unique sites and tourist experience will be? ‘Go where the locals go’ will be the answer. If the traveller wants to travel as a local, adhering to the phrase ‘Go where the locals go’ is the best way to do that.
Off the beaten track
Getting off the beaten track and touring in small community areas and taking distance from the tourism-tailored destination areas is a great way to travel as a local and learn about the actual culture, history and social happenings in the destination.
Many well-travelled people will tell you that the mantra of ‘go where the locals go’ is the singular best way to have the most genuine experience in any destination one finds themselves in. In some circumstances, the tourist will be fortunate enough to find themselves able to participate in local festivities, those which are entirely unbeknownst to the outside world. Local happenings, ideal beaches, dining establishments, and little known natural treasures are usually the best and most memorable experiences a traveller will have – especially when in areas which are difficult to access for the general public.
Talking to people is the best way to gain information about the local area and recommendations. Lonely Planet suggests taking public transportation and chatting up the locals (example; shop keepers) as a way to manage some guidance on the best places to go. But the possibility remains to just put away the map and go where interest takes you.
Dining out can be a treat. Especially when at your travel destination. Admit it, you like to eat exotic foods in your chosen destination. We all do! Do take a moment to consider though, before selecting your dining establishment. Local food is always the best. The food is fresh, locally sourced, delicious and almost always – affordable. Tourist dining, while also delicious (and hopefully fresh) – is usually identifiable by its large and often ostentatious exterior displays. Often offered as buffets, these eateries, while sought after, create an inane amount of food waste. The money you are paying to eat there (often on the very high, yet commonly justifiable amount) is charged to cover an average amount of food consumed. ‘Consumed’ in this case means: not eaten, but taken away – thus ‘consumed’ with ill consideration to the actual amount of food waste these buffet restaurants actually toss in the bin.
A story of experience
‘Go where the locals go’ also works in reference to remarkable, hidden gems of places one would never discover otherwise. I remember a time when touring by auto, that we found ourselves in a small seaside village in Spain. We had been driving through the countryside for what seemed like days and when we saw the beach, we were so happy that just stopped the auto and ran for the water. Everything had been closed. It was impossible to find large businesses which were open, and so we were searching for a resting place, only. This village, was covered in celebratory decoration. It is uncertain what the holiday was. However, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sea was glistening, the village was celebrating – silently, personally, in the community – and we were happy to just sit…and enjoy the view, the warmth & the refreshing ocean water. Later, we found ourselves in a café that was recommended by a local and took the moment to learn more about the locals, the culture, the food. We talked with many friendly locals in that café and it was wonderful. It was an amazing day, better than any of us expected when setting out that morning. One which would never have happened, but for an accident and one which will forever remain in the memory of this writer. This is why travel as a local is so important!
One way to achieve travel as a local without getting yourself lost, is to book a village or homestay. Village stays are an amazing way to feel like a part of the community and the traveller can learn so much through the immersion experience. Read more about village stays here.
This goal of travel as a local is also an important reason why one should always take the assistance of a local ranger or local nature guide when taking an ecotour in your chosen destination. Local guides are so very valuable, in that they always know the best places in nature. They understand the weather patterns and animal migration patterns. They know those ‘hidden gems’ which every traveller is searching for. Employ the use of a local ranger in your tourism activities and you will be thankful for the plethora of information they share!
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