Backpacking – Do It Like a Local
When travelling, people often want to experience all a new country has to offer. This means finding the places that aren’t necessarily covered extensively in holiday brochures or travel guides, learning some of the language, eating local food, meeting local people and experiencing life as a local.
A good starting point on arrival is simply to talk to people in the town you are visiting itself. Local residents will of course have the best advice when it comes to what there is to see, the best spots for a night out and the best restaurants in which to sample local cuisine.
Check out what the modern nomad thinks
There are hundreds of travel blogs which showcase unusual views on destinations, and social media has enabled people to almost explore an area before arrival.
Over the last few years there has been a rise in the number of modern nomads who have swapped the cubicle for a life travelling the world and taking a step off the beaten track.
These modern nomads have also embraced blogging and social media and their sites are a great point of reference to research a destination before travelling. These blogs make a great stopping point to find out about local cuisine, customs and events and they also provide some brilliant budget travel tips.
Of course, you can also find a number of budget travel tips (21!) here.
Eat like a local
As familiar as the Big Mac is it does seem counter intuitive to travel to some fantastic destination with its own culture and cuisine and to spend your time their hunting down the local McDonalds.
Local food is an experience you should savour and certainly embrace – if you are travelling on a budget then it can also help you keep food costs down.
If you are moving between countries be careful about travelling with food – if you are making an onwards trip to Australia for example, the bottle of snake venom infused wine won’t go down well at customs (as a bonus tip; if your friend is scared of snakes this doesn’t make a great gift to bring home from your travels).
Behave like a local
By this I mean it is important to understand and respect local beliefs, customs and the way of life. It may not be your exact cup of tea but if you are a guest in a country then respect should be the top of your list alongside having a great time and staying safe.
The Foreign Office website can be a great resource to understand local customs and the FCO Know Before You Go Campaign – https://www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo – can help you to gain an insight in to what dangers are currently being highlighted in any given country at any particular moment in time. The FCO can also help you plan your trip to ensure that you are fully briefed.
Live like a local
If you are visiting a country/city then the best way to understand it is to explore it and embrace its customs. Backpackers of the world for decades have embraced the local hostel and they can be great way to keep costs low. Hunt down a hip hostel for some unique accommodation experiences. If you are travelling to Berlin I would definitely recommend the Cat’s Pyjamas hostel – http://thecatspajamashostel.com/ – a great mix of modern and traditional with clean rooms, great transport links and a big communal breakfast area to kick start your day in.
An alternative to the hostel that can you get you on step closer to living local is couch surfing – this isn’t for everyone and you are best arranging this through an established website with quality and safety controls.
Another local tip that helps keep costs down is using a local SIM card when travelling rather than roaming and racking up a huge phone bill ready for your return. If you are planning a trip you can buy a local SIM card in advance (from a company such as Ritesim) and have it delivered ready for your trip. Ritesim also has a blog with tips to avoid bill shock after a holiday: http://www.ritesim.com/blog/how-to-avoid-mobile-bill-shock-when-abroad/
Living like a local will help you gain the full flavour of a destination rather than the “staid” impression that some of the key tourist areas offer. For example the small back street restaurants of Barcelona allow you to enjoy a dining and drinking experience closer to that of a local than the commercially orientated establishments of La Rambla (although if you want to see E.T and R2-D2 in the same scene then you need to hunt down the Wax Museum on La Rambla, there are some other great attractions listed here: http://www.www.backpackerboy.com/2013/05/breathtaking-buildings-beautiful-beaches-bloated-bellies-barcelona-spain.html).
Party like a local
Ain’t no party like a local’s party… With the mantra of “stay safe” ringing in your ears there is a lot to be said for experiencing the local party scene. Some events may be geared towards tourists but with a bit of luck you can stumble into a local bar and before you know it find yourself at a house party or club that is most definitely not in any guidebook.
Keep your eyes peeled for evidence of the local music scene and jump at the chance to broaden your musical tastes and show off your dance moves.
Wherever you plan on travelling you can help yourself and your wallet by: planning ahead, eating locally, checking out the hostels and making use of local transport networks. Doing it like a local could also help you have a once in the lifetime experience and enjoy a trip that will never be forgotten.