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Don't Be A Tourist: 15 Secrets To Traveling Like A Local

You look like you need a vacation. Heck, I just got back from one, and I already feel like I need another. But what types of vacations are we taking? Are you visiting a city and essentially having the exact same experience as your friend when they went last summer or like the blogger that you follow religiously?

Would you rather take a unique vacation where it feels more like you live there versus just visiting temporarily? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the type of vacation where you actually experience a place instead of just checking off tourist attractions?

You look like you need a vacation, but more than that… you look like you need to take one as a local. Lucky for you, I know just the thing.

  • Put your walls down. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down, give into the music, smile at the handsome stranger, and live in the moment. Discover yourself in the middle of the uncomfortable.
  • Take a wrong turn. Sometimes you can put away Google Maps and just follow your intuition. Of course, be smart and safe about it, but you never know what magic you’ll find around the corner.
  • Explore with a local. It’s best if you have a local to show you around or make friends while you’re in town. Their perspective and guidance will completely change your next move.
  • Put away your cellphone. You can Instagram later, the app isn’t going anywhere. Focus on living in the now instead of seeing a vacation through a screen as if you weren’t even there.
  • Rent a home or apartment. Instead of trying to find an overpriced hotel, book a furnished apartment in the best part of town without the price tag.
  • Pay attention to detail. Take a look at how the locals dress, the food on their plates, the drinks they pair their meals with, how they walk on the streets, and how they talk to their loved ones. Experience their life by the minutiae.
  • Learn the language and customs. If you’re traveling abroad, try teaching  yourself a few key phrases to get by. While you’re at, learn a few of the local customs. This type of respect will get you a long way.
  • Ignore packaged tours. Forget the bus tours or expensive super-organized tours. Take advantage of free walking tours or pick a few key attractions to see on your own.
  • Take public transportation. Not only do you save money by taking public transportation, but you’re likely to see more while doing so.
  • Do you research. It’s always best to have a handful of things you want to see and have some general knowledge about a destination so you don’t leave it feeling regretful for not seeing enough.
  • Consider volunteering. A lux vacation is great and all, but imagine the warmth in your heart you’d feel if you volunteered for something like Habitat for Humanity or one of the many other charitable organizations around the world.
  • Try traditional foods. Do not choose things on the menu that are your usual go-to. Be adventurous, ask the waiter their recommendations, and taste what it’s like to live here.
  • Start more conversations. Ask your cab driver questions. Start a rapport with the local barista you get your morning coffee from. Chat up someone standing next to you in line. Everyone has a story they’re just waiting to share.
  • Go during, or closer to, off-season. Instead of competing with a flurry of tourists, do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of having more room to breathe and more time spent outside of lines.
  • Allow yourself to be a tourist. Alright, give in a little. After all, you are a tourist aren’t you? So take that cheesy picture, do that cliché thing, and don’t you dare feel a bit guilty about it.

And remember, an amazing adventure doesn’t have to cost you your entire savings. There are plenty of ways to be frugal as well as thrifty. Besides, as someone wise once said, “Travel, go as many places as you can. You can always make money, but you can’t always make memories.”