Travel Tips January 01, 2018
9 Ways To Blend In Like A Local No Matter Where You Go
Traveling is all immersing yourself in new places and meeting new people. Depending on how far from home you roam, there’s a chance you might stick out a bit. Looking like a tourist can carry all sorts of hidden drawbacks like being charged higher prices or even getting singled out by pickpockets. Here are the best and easiest ways to blend in with the locals no matter where you travel.
Keep your camera out of sight.
Of course you’ll want to take a billion pictures while you’re traveling, but there’s no better way to announce to everyone around that you’re not local than keeping a massive camera slung around your neck. Obviously if you’re a serious photographer it makes sense to keep your equipment with you, but if you’re just snapping vacation photos for Facebook, consider a smaller device that you can slip into a pocket or purse and retrieve as needed.
Head off the main drag for dinner.
While there are likely plenty of amazing spots to grab a meal downtown, consider venturing further afield to find a local joint instead. Not only will neighborhood restaurants and bars have authentic flavor, they’ll be far easier on your wallet than the tourist traps downtown.
Use your phone’s GPS rather than a physical map or guidebook.
Nothing screams "I don’t know where I am" like being huddled over a paper map or guidebook on a street corner. Not only does this make you a huge potential target for unsavory attention, it won’t help you blend in one bit. Download digital versions of any guides you’ll need and use your smartphone’s GPS to navigate if possible.
Do your fashion (and weather) research.
Traveling to a chilly clime? Stepping out of your hotel in jeans and a t-shirt may not only put you at risk of turning blue, it’ll make you stick out like a sore thumb. Locals know how to dress to stay comfortable whatever the season, so make sure you pack clothing that matches the climate and typical dress code at your destination. A West Coast beachy style may not fly in buttoned-up New England in February.
Be open to new experiences.
Does your destination have a specialty dish? Try it out! Do the locals spend more time outdoors than indoors? Strap on your hiking boots and get some fresh air. Don’t make a beeline to your favorite coffee shop chain when you need your morning fix. Check out a local spot instead. It’s easy to stick to routine habits, but travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone and there’s no better way to seem like a local than embracing the newness of your locale.
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.
There’s no better way to learn about how locals live than to ask one yourself. If you don’t quite feel up to chatting up a random stranger about the best local spot to grab breakfast, ask the staff at hotels, cafes and shops. Taxi drivers are often more than willing to recommend their favorite haunts and can tell you a lot about the vibe of certain areas.
When in doubt, do as the Romans do.
If you notice most locals acting a certain way – say, standing to the right on an escalator and walking on the left – follow their lead. If the natives seems to favor a particular local beer, order a pint or two. Acting like a local is all about feeling comfortable where you are and in this case, a bit of mimicry is a good thing.
There’s nothing better than experiencing a new destination like a local.