Without a doubt, the best way to travel is by living like a local. Being able to experience a new culture without falling into all the tourist traps is a recipe for success. Local travel allows you to meet unique people, visit new places, and try new food — although, it is not always as easy as it seems. If you’ve ever tried to search for places to visit on Google, you know that you can scroll for miles and you will keep finding the exact same search results . The same places that everyone else visits . The “tourist traps”.
I have to admit, traveling as a tourist has never been my forte. I am not someone who enjoys large crowds or experiencing the same things as everyone else. Anything surface level makes me cringe , especially when it comes to tourism. What’s the point of traveling if you can’t leave with a new and fresh perspective ? One that not every single person has already had.
It’s the deepness of local travel that makes my heart explode. You get to form your own opinions, learn to embrace new hardships, and meet some of the coolest people out there. It’s a win-win situation.
Here at No Desk Project, we strive to give people just that — authentic travel experiences and the opportunity to live like locals while experiencing the true culture of every nation. We want travelers and remote workers alike to not just visit new countries, but to be immersed in transformative cultural experiences. We believe it is in those moments that we get to see into the life of others, while experiencing community and building lifelong relationships.
If you are not traveling with us on our upcoming trips, but still want to become fully immersed in a new culture, I have a few tips to help you out. Let’s make things a little more interesting and a little less stale while traveling.
1. Talk to the locals
The locals know best, always. There is no need for refute here. If you want to find the best hidden gems, you need to talk to the locals. I can guarantee you will get something great out of it — be it eating authentic Bengali food at an offbeat restaurant, a map to secret hot springs in Costa Rica, a tuk-tuk ride in Chiang Mai, or just the start of a beautiful new friendship. If you’re going to travel, do it right.
You never know what you are going to get with this one. But I can promise you that it will be something new and often unexpected!
2. Be willing to say “YES”
In order to fully experience any new culture, you must be willing to say “yes” to new adventures. Fully immersing yourself in a new culture usually means you have to be open to trying new things — even if “new things” means eating fermented shark in Iceland. I never said you have to like it, but if the locals do, c’mon you’ve gotta at least try it! Who knows, it might end up being your new favorite dish.
3. Stay in a host home or Airbnb
Rather than staying in a hotel while you travel, stay with a host family or in an Airbnb. Living in a home will allow you to gain a much better perspective on what it is like to live in the country you are visiting. You get to see what the local living spaces look like and focus more on the community around you. And the food. Oh, the food. The best travel tip I can ever give you is to befriend your hosts — if not for the friendship, do it for the home-cooked local meals.
4. Embrace local transportation
And then there’s local transportation — exciting and scary all at the same time. Whether you are riding a moped through the streets of Bali or taking a bus to the next city, you will experience a crazy adventure and start to feel like a local in no time! You might get lost or end up in the wrong place, but it’s the journey that counts, right?
5. Don’t make too many plans
You can’t expect anything while traveling, other than knowing you’ll have a great time and come back a little different from when you left. Stick to the bare minimum of plans, giving yourself room for spontaneous adventures with your new local pals. Allow yourself to say “yes” to new experiences and go with the flow while traveling. You will probably leave with some insane stories to tell when you come home — well, that is, if you decide to come home!
6. Do something touristy
Alright, I know this is hard to realize because it’s much more fun to travel locally than touristy, but the reason you are traveling is to see new things and sometimes the touristy things happen to be so amazing that you can’t just skip them. Could you possibly go to Peru and not see Machu Picchu? Didn’t think so. And just think, if the locals enjoy the tourist spots, you’re probably going to like them too. As will your Instagram fans. Visit those tourist spots and then get back to that local routine!