Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Paz13
Becoming a local in 24 hours
Hate the hotel zones of cities where the food is mediocre, over priced, and the atmosphere is stale? We do! Not only is the experience expensive and insincere but couldn’t you get that same feeling in your home country. We travel for the experience of a country. I think that is why I am much more excited about going to Brazil than I am Mississippi. Before traveling full time we would start at the hotel zone because that is where our all inclusive package took us and then eventually by the end of our trip we had found all the wonderful places to eat and hang out at that we wished we would have been the whole time. Right? Sound familiar? What if you could do this in reverse? Find all the amazing places first, save your money so you have more to spend on anything you want, and eventually make your way to the hotel zone if you felt like it.
So I am going to give you some tips on becoming a local in 24 hours of your plane landing. You will start your week, month, or even your weekend stay where you want to be…with the locals.
Before you get on the plane
Becoming a local in 24 hours does require 10- 15 minutes of homework.
Learn some of the language.
Get a book or a small pocket size phrase book and learn: Hello, thank you, good-bye, please, and maybe a few numbers. Don’t think you have to be fluent or understand anything that comes after this. Say them out loud on the plane, maybe even strike up a conversation with your stewardess and ask them if you are pronouncing the words correctly.
Read up on local do’s and don’t
We are big touchers….yup I will touch you if I like you. But in Thailand it is very bad luck to touch a child on their head. Who knew? I didn’t. So no touching the kids heads…check.
Kissing when you say hello. In most Latin American countries it is common to kiss on the cheek when you first meet ANYONE. So be ready for this. Don’t think all these men and women are getting frisky with you….they are just saying hello. Lean in get your kiss and give your kiss and enjoy. Who knows….what handsome or beautiful men or women you will get to give a little smooch to.
These two easy to do things will get you right through those foreigner doors and people will start to let you right in. Use your language as soon as your foot hits their soil and start enjoying and respecting any local traditions. This expresses to people that you have taken an interest in who they are as a people and are not just interested in getting drunk and polluting their beaches. Don’t worry if you feel silly or sound stupid….you do. But they love that you have taken the time to learn their language (however limited it is) and are excited to use it. Remember to encourage your children to use the local language and explain to them the different culture. It is a great learning experience.
Where are you sleeping?
Instead of booking a package through a very expensive hotel near expensive 7 elevens you should look at renting a house, condo, or even a private room in a local area. I never knew how to do that, where to start or what the terms were. It is easier than you ever could have imagined. You can rent out completely furnished houses, apartments, and condos all over cities for a fraction of what you would pay for a hotel and will all the conveniences of a home. Staying outside of the hotel zone puts you immediately in the middle of communities. You are close to markets, schools, playgrounds, and possibly an underground club scene.
Where to look.
These are all great places to look for rentals. You can find anything from studio apartments to villas in the country. Sleeping where the locals sleep is the best way to put you in an area where you are more likely to experience the real life.
I love to eat and if it authentic local food for pennies that makes it 100 times better. That means that I can eat delicious food over and over and over again and still afford some drinks.
Finding a good local eatery is very simple. You have to ask your taxi driver, or any public transportation worker. These people normally travel throughout the city and have tried every single eatery.
First let them know that you are looking for good local food, or they will direct you to McDonald’s trust me that has happened to us. We don’t want McDonald’s we want real food. Since most foreigners only frock to the local Big Mac they aren’t use to guiding you towards the best taco or noodle stand. They won’t steer you in the wrong direction. The best part is that these places are normally really really cheap. Even better in my opinion!! Keep in mind there are no cloth napkins at these restaurants, but isn’t that the whole point. Grab a stool, milk carton, or bench and be ready to have your taste buds tantalized. Oh…don’t forget to drink out of a straw and never from the bottle.
Looking for something to do in the afternoon or early morning. Although the museums and historical attractions are great take some time out and find a local park. Plan on spending a couple hours here. It is a great way to find local culture at its prime. My husband love to people watch in these parks, and our children love to walk, run, play, and dance with everyone.
Our visits to local parks,
Our children play with other children who are so nice to share their toys with some foreign children. We remember to use our couple words of the local language. Purchasing ice cream, snacks, or beer is always apart of these trips. Lots of walking around and joining in dance classes is lots of fun too. Or you can park yourself on a bench and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Some of best travel memories have occurred in free local parks. If you make friends with anyone remember to ask them if they can recommend a place to eat or visit. They have the best local suggestions and are normally so much less expensive.
Becoming a local in 24 hours…
Now you are eating, sleeping, and hanging out where the locals do. You have now integrated yourself into their society and can speak the most important words…in my opinion. You can do what ever you want now. You can enjoy yourself and the extra money you are saving while relishing in local activities or you could go and get a hotel room in the hotel zone. Remember that traveling doesn’t have to be expensive and boring. It can actually be very inexpensive and fun for the family, not to mention educational for all involved.
I am not the only one who has tips on how to meet and connect with locals while they travel. I am to introduce you to some amazing families that each have their own unique traveling style and approach. Hear how they meet and connect with locals.
- Pick Up Lines for Travelers by Keryn at Walkingon Travels
- Going Local by Bethaney at Flashpacker Family
- Perpetually Barefoot: Becoming A Local by Gabi Klaf at The Nomadic Family
- When in Rome by Erin Tullius at The Gypseekers
- Make New Travel Friends with Tripping by Jessie at Wandering Educators
- It’s the How to be a Traveler by Laurel Perry Turner at Capturing la Vita-
- How To Travel Like A Local-
What are your favorite local experiences?