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Live like a local is one of the buzziest travel tips — some say it could make or break the immersion of your next vacation. However, there are many ways to adapt this as intensely or subtly as you wish. Additionally, many forget it takes effort to live locally in your hometown.
Do you live in New York but have never gone up the Statue of Liberty or in eastern California but have never been to the beach? Living locally isn’t exclusive to travel. These are the most important tips when trying to center your sense of place, whether on your couch or a plane.
What Does it Mean to Live Like a Local?
Whether traveling to an exotic locale or exploring your home turf, living locally can take many definitions for your unique travels. It can mean experiencing the culture by eating the food or speaking the language. It can also mean knowing the best spots around town that aren’t the obvious tourist traps.
It could also be more personal. Living locally could represent feeling connected to any area with curiosity and appreciation. You can accomplish this by finding a community of like-minded people or loved ones to provide a sense of home. Additionally, you can adopt a mindset that your local area has inherent value — it gives fulfillment to you, your neighbors and the planet.
Here are some creative ways to explore foreign and familiar destinations to make anyone comfortable living locally.
When You’re Traveling Abroad
You could be the type of traveler who plans a detailed itinerary and reads books about the area before boarding a plane. You may also be a more spontaneous adventurer who prefers learning on the go. No matter your style, here’s how to embrace living like a local while traveling abroad.
1. Find the Local Specialty
One of the most common pieces of living local advice is to eat the food. While this is one way to embrace the culture physically, take it further to discover where the area’s residents excel. Searching local markets could reveal the locals are expert potters or weavers. Perhaps they’re known for spending copious time in saunas, and you should schedule a time to relax. Dig deep, and you could be shocked by what you find.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off the Map
It’s effortless while traveling to stick to your phone for recommendations or treasure a travel guide. However, it’s crucial to go off-script occasionally — ask a local where their favorite restaurant is or where they would go on a surprise date. Have flexibility in where you’re going to have a more organic experience.
3. Walk or Find Public Transportation
Rental cars are a luxury, but you will get more out of the experience by walking as much as possible or using local transportation. It exposes you to more architecture and unexpected sites and forces some interactivity with the residents.
When You’re Exploring at Home
Just because you grew up in your hometown doesn’t mean you know every nook and cranny — you may not even enjoy where you live. Deepen your connection to wherever you reside by embracing these local-living habits.
1. Find Small-Town Events
It’s tempting to travel to the nearest metropolitan area to find a musical or concert. However, seeing what local offerings are available is just as invigorating. Local restaurants and breweries often have open mic nights or local talent playing tunes for customers for low or free cover charges. Plus, sports or theatrical events from resident schools and universities provide that hype feeling without exorbitant travel prices. Next time you’re itching for an event, try looking closer to home.
2. Call a Neighbor for Your Next Service
You may need your plumbing fixed or help to landscape your dream front yard. Instead of reaching out to a default chain corporation, make an effort to search Google Maps or the yellow pages for a local expert or small business. It’s a way to bolster local talent in their dream jobs and befriend others in the community who could help you in the future.
3. Get Involved in Community Organizations
Local libraries, community centers, town halls and coffee shops all have chances to meet people with varied interests. Clubs and organizations abound no matter where you live, and it’s a great chance to support a small initiative. You can check your local Parks and Recreation board, local newspaper and random flyers posted about town to discover how you could help by picking up trash or creating a local community band. The possibilities are as endless as your initiative.
Living Like a Local Everywhere You Go
Living locally is a state of mind and practical application. It’s critical while traveling you feel you got the most out of your journey, and it’s just as vital while living at home to feel connected to the community. There isn’t a benchmark for how to best wander like a local. It’s utterly unique to your personality and the effort you want to invest in learning about your area and its people.