For me, travel is all about learning about and understanding different cultures as well as, seeing first hand how the locals of a country live.
And what better way to achieve this than to travel like the locals do?
Not only does travelling like a local benefit backpackers as they’re able to get a true taste of a culture but, it also contributes to the community and puts their money where it’s really needed.
Here are my top tips on how to travel like a local.
Rent a bike
Whether it’s a pedal bike or a motorbike, getting around on two wheels is by far the best way to uncover an area/country.
It gives you the freedom to go off the beaten track and explore areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach and, it’s dirt cheap.
Some of my best days and memories whilst travelling have been when I’ve rented a bike, gone with the flow and uncovered hidden waterfalls, caves, lakes and temples.
Eat from street stalls
I get such a buzz when I see a street stall with small, rickety plastic tables and chairs.
These mean STREET FOOD.
A lot of travellers are scared to eat from street stalls due to the worry of getting sick or not understanding the menu.
They’re missing out!!
Street stalls are where I always find the best and cheapest food. For me, pointing at a dish or a picture and not quite knowing what will be placed in front of me is all part of the fun and usually ends up with me discovering a new delicious dish.
Join the locals and give their food (exactly how they have it) a go!
Use public transport
In a lot of countries public transport is the cheapest, easiest and most entertaining way to get around. You may end up with a chicken on your lap or music blaring at 1am nevertheless, it’s hilarious stories like these which you’ll remember and laugh about for years to come.
A lot of countries now offer VIP or tourist buses to make long journeys comfier for travellers. Although these buses are great, they don’t show you the true local experience.
Hop on a jam-packed bus and see how the locals get around.
Stay at homestays
I have stayed at a few homestays on my travels (read about my first experience here) and have loved the personal experience you get from living with the locals.
Due to a lot of traveller’s desire for comfort, it’s getting harder and harder to find a legit homestay where you sleep and eat with the family. A lot of places call themselves homestays when in fact, they’re guest houses.
However, if you do find a proper homestay, you’ll gain a unique insight into local life like no other and, will be able to ask any prying questions you have about their culture, lives etc.
Book your transport yourself
Travel agents and hostels seem to think that backpackers can’t cope with ‘local standards’ on trains and buses. Therefore, there’ll tend to book you onto the fancier transport and then take a hefty commission.
If you do a bit more research you’ll be able to buy your ticket at the station, book directly with the bus/train company or book your transport online, which will save you paying any unnecessary commission.
In Thailand you can use this website, which I used on multiple occasions and had no problems with.
Do you prefer travelling like a local? What would you add to this list?