Traveling like a local can reward us with the most authentic travel experiences. It gives us a peak into a way of life that is completely different than our own, which is one of the greatest gifts of traveling! Sometimes it’s the tourist hotspots that ironically end up being our worst travel experiences. The influx of people can cause the quality to downgrade and the massive crowd can just ruin the moment all together.
Traveling like a local can be difficult though, especially when popular travel sites like TripAdvisor are dominated by tourists only. However, with the right resources, it’s actually much easier than you’d think!
If you’re someone that likes to dabble in local culture and discover hidden gems when traveling, all you need to do is utilize these resources below, and you’ll be set! They’ll help you find anything you need from authentic restaurants and accommodation to unforgettable activities and hangouts. You name it!
Follow this guide and you’ll become an expert in traveling like a local!
Restaurants & Bars
Ditch TripAdvisor & use FourSquare!
Remember FourSquare? It may seem like a fad that came and went, but it’s actually one of the best resources for traveling like a local! As an app that many locals use to simply check in to places for points, it has overtime become a map of every city’s local favorites!
Countless times I’ve used TripAdvisor to find top-rated restaurants and bars, but the most authentic spots I’ve found are always through FourSquare! If you aim for places that have a score of 8 and higher it’s hard to go wrong! Use it on your computer or download the app to access it on the go.
Skip the hotel & stay in an AirBnB!
I’ve praised AirBnB numerous times in past posts, but that’s because it’s the only way to experience a new city like a true local! Not only that, but they’re usually much cheaper than hotels and come with great insider recommendations from your host!
In Italy, I could hear the neighbors speaking Italian out my apartment window with the smell of their homemade pasta wafting in. In Vietnam, I’d wake up to free-roaming roosters calling in the pastures outside, then buy $2 groceries around the corner from a lady selling garden vegetables. These are experiences you just can’t get staying at a hotel!
Activities & Tours
Avoid the travel agencies & access unique recommendations from bloggers and travel magazines instead!
Travel agencies usually only offer “one size fits all” tours to travelers and many only care about making profit, rather than your individuals needs/interests. On the contrary, travel blogs and magazines can provide you with specific recommendations based on your travel style. Whether you’re a couple, family of 5, or solo traveler, you can find targeted suggestions for anything you want on these online sites! Plus, their main goal is to offer their readers new, worthwhile recommendations that can’t readily be found on popular tourism sites. That being said, you know you’re in good hands!
Some travel blogs I enjoy are The Blonde Abroad, Couple’s Coordinates, and Polkadot Passport. When it comes to online travel magazines, my favorites are CNN Travel, Conde Naste, and Huffington Post travel section.
For All Things Off the Beaten Path
Combine the last 3 resources & visit Like A Local Guide!
Like a Local City Guide is a website made specifically for revealing worldwide native favorites in order to help you travel “like a local”!
This site has it all, especially since all the recommendations come from seasoned residents who know their city better than anyone!
I used this guide to find authentic restaurants and local nightlife hotspots in Lisbon, and every recommendation was spot-on! They were responsible for giving me all my most authentic Lisbon experiences!
Get off the computer & go meet some locals!
Don’t be afraid to ask around and interact with the city residents! This is the best, quickest, and easiest way to experience a city like a local- by simply becoming friends with them!
Some prime locations for meeting locals are in bars (especially after a couple drinks😜), restaurants since you’ll already be chatting with your waiter, and on tours and activities that are guided by locals!
If you know of any other resources to add to the list, I’d love to hear your comments below! 😊