One of the most important things for modern-day travelers is authenticity. Forget the main tourist traps and big-name attractions; these days most people are looking for genuine experiences that are rooted in the place they are visiting.
But travelling like a local isn’t always totally straightforward. It can be hard to step away from the tourist areas, and finding authentic experiences isn’t always easy, especially in a new country or a new city such as London. Breaking through the tourist barrier and discovering ‘real life’ can be tricky and telling the real from the fake takes a little know-how.
Luckily there are plenty of ways these days to immerse yourself in life in a new place, even if you are only visiting for a few days. Here are four of the best tips for vacationing like a local.
The simplest and most obvious way to experience a new place like a local is to meet local people! But how do you do this if you don’t already have friends in your vacation destination? The trick is communication. Chat to cab drivers, strike up a conversation with locals and baristas at your local cafe, or turn to digital tools that introduce you to people in the city.
Getting local recommendations for things to do is easily the best way to see beyond the tourist side of a new place. Couchsurfing is a fantastic way to meet locals and live with them as you fully grasp the culture and lifestyle of a new destination.
Avoid sitting on bus tours or taking taxis everywhere, and just walk! Wandering around a new city like London gives you a far better insight into the place and helps you discover fascinating nooks and crannies that you would otherwise miss. Even if you have had to pack light for a cruise, that extra pair of walking trainers will be worth it in the long run. Don’t go with a plan, let yourself be guided by what you see and hear, and you’ll get a whole new perspective on your vacation.
Rather than looking at a guidebook, take a look inside restaurants and see who is already eating there. If it is full of locals, chances are you are on to a winner! The best judges of food and drink will be the people who live there, so trust their instincts!
Staying in local property, instead of a hotel, will put you at the heart of the authentic action, and your host will be able to offer you a wealth of advice and guidance to help you make the most of your stay. Homestays offer a great resource to help you make your stay more local.