Traveling is one of way of escaping the hustle and bustles of life.  However, there are two ways to travel; either be an original tourist who loves to enjoy all the luxuries, do all the touristy stuff and leave or travel like a local who really wants to understand the environment and immerse yourself in their culture.

While one shouldn’t feel any guilt opting to travel like a tourist, it’s always a satisfying experience to travel like a local and get to know your environment more. From my experience of travel, I have noted that traveling like a local always saves money, makes you meet more people and above all, one gets to support the local economy.

Find out how the locals do things

But to be able to do so, one must first ask themselves and research on how locals in the destination of where they desire to travel to behave and do things. Unless you ask yourself such questions, you will behave like a tourist while desiring to immerse yourself in experiences.

Ask yourself what kind of experiences you like? What kind of people would you like to meet? Where would you like to go? or What food would you like to eat? Researching your destination will not only help you know what to expect and look for in a destination, but it will also enable you strike conversations with strangers and know the kind of questions to ask for to find the right experiences.

Only pack what you need

Once you find the right destination, don’t overschedule your days while packing. Add a little bit of spontaneity to it by just packing what you need and leaving the rest to chance. Over packing is acting like a tourist. You should pack in the same manner that you would when visiting your friend or family, with less of the pricey clothes and more of your regular ones so long as they respect the weather and the customs of the destination that you are heading to.

I’ve realized that over packing sometimes induces anxiety and makes one not enjoy the moment or their vacation in a place.

Learn the local language

The first thing to learn is the local language and customs. Learn how to say hello, sorry and often say this whenever you go to the shops, travel by bus, or meet someone in the streets. This will assist you in case you are stranded and have no means of communication. It will also build your image before the locals and make you look in tune with your surroundings.

If you go to Rome do as they do. One of the things that has assisted me in hacking this is having an open mind and knowing that traveling is all about learning. If you travel to a place with a strong coffee culture like Ethiopia where you will find people seated outside taking local coffee or outside on a patio, try get some even if you are not a fan. If you want to experience the city as a local, you must act like one by accepting to embrace the cultures unless.

Learn the dos and don’ts

One must learn the dos and don’ts of being in that place. For instance, if you find yourself on a vacation in a Muslim country, drink, and dress modestly. Also, don’t approach member of the opposite gender as there are stricter rules that govern social interaction in most of these countries. Learn what the law says about traffic or which side to drive, and it will save you from going to jail in a foreign land. Learn what to do when going to sacred places and respect people regardless of what you think of their culture. Have an open mind to learn instead of judging and criticizing their way of life.

Take Public transport

Take Public Transit instead of an Uber or taxi as it is not only cheap, but one can interact with the locals directly. I’ve realized that striking a conversation with a local in a bus will make you learn a lot about the current issues and what to avoid during your visit. However, only try this in places where people are friendly and where public transport is available.


Another way of traveling like a local is staying at someone’s just instead. Inventions like Airbnb and coach surfing have really been key in not just offering affordable accommodation but also making travelers feel like locals whenever they visit a place. You can stay with a friend as you explore the destination as well. However, should you opt for this, always ensure that you carry shopping and assist in the expenses of the house for the period that you will be with your host.

Once you find a great accommodation, the next thing you need to do is throw away all your list of to do things and ask the locals to recommend a place for you. Having a list makes your travel all about sight-seeing like a tourist and never about absorbing what is happening around you. Get lost in the destination, get your map, and try out new places because sometimes in doing this, you’ll be able to bump into a beautiful place.

Visit the local market

Visit the local market and not the supermarket whenever you are trying to buy food stuff. You will find fresh produce, local crafts and get to meet the locals and learn about them through observation and conversing with them. One thing to add though, if you can travel to the market with a local, then do. They can help when it comes to bargaining prices and avoiding exploitation.

In a nutshell

An important thing to note is that you should not travel during the tourist season. Traveling during seasons like Christmas and Easter make you look like a tourist and pay like a tourist. While at it always ensure that you seek recommendations from locals on where to travel.

Wherever you are from, you probably have an idea of some special places you would recommend to visitors. You will discover that some of their experiences are unique, and they have better ways of enjoying it plus an affordable way of doing it. These experiences are most likely not in guidebooks or may seem strange at first. If you happen to come across some friendly locals while on vacation, ask them for some suggestions. They may tell you about a delicious restaurant or a beautiful park. They could also tailor their suggestion to your personal interests. Locals are an important source of knowledge when travelling.

Source: Zurulink Africa

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