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How to Travel like a Local

As a young traveller, I think you should try and make every destination you visit meaningful and significant. Personally, I like to treat each travel experience as though I’m a local. Yes, getting the fancy hotel and personal driver is a nice way to travel, but this way is much more memorable.

As a millennial, I can agree that we value experiences over things. However, because many of us are broke we can’t afford massages on the beach, room service, personal drivers, or private tours of the exquisite places in old cities.

So, we choose to stay in places within our budget that provide us with the most unique and local experience.

We have become our own travel agents, which has become easy with the rise of the internet. No longer do people have to hire travel agents to figure everything out for them—the whole world is right under our fingertips, or should I say computer screen.

Travelling like a local is extremely budget friendly. You’re not going to remember the hotel maid who made your bed each morning, but you will definitely remember the owner of the coffee shop below your apartment who gave you free coffee because you went there every single day.

I don’t think you can really experience another culture without travelling this way. If you’re looking for the right way to do it, here are the tips and tricks to travel like a local.

1. Stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel​

Staying in an Airbnb allows you to take in the diverse architecture. Pay attention to how different it is compared to your home town—it will really make you appreciate how unique a citiy’s history is. For example, in many older homes in Europe there are no air conditioning systems. Need to cool down? Open the window.

2. Ask locals for the best cafes/restaurants​​

There is no better way to immerse yourself in different cuisines than by sampling their local foods. However, it’s often hard to find the best spots. Ask your neighbour in your Airbnb, or ask a local worker—they are sure to know the best hidden spots around.​

3. Avoid cabs—take public transportation or walk​

Yes, cabs may be the most convenient way to get around. But taking public transportation or walking allows you to feel how the people of that town live their everyday lives (and it’s cheaper). Pay attention to your surroundings and you might see things you wouldn’t see from the confinements of a cab.

4. Go to the tourist sites, but also explore the areas surrounding it

Although this contradicts the whole travelling like a local idea, I still believe you should to go the iconic tourist sites. But try exploring the areas around it and get insight from locals as to why it’s so important to their history.​

People always say “make yourself at home.” I take this saying with me wherever I travel. I like to live like a local and truly make myself at home.

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Jess is a current student at The University of Western Ontario in her third year majoring in media information and technoculture. She is an aspiring writer who loves to travel and loves her dog Teddy.
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