Have you always been an ‘off-the-beaten-path’ travel like a local type vacationer? Visiting a small village in Fiji or sipping Bordeaux wine while listening to a poetry reading (spoken only in French) at a cafe in the 18th Arrondissement sure beats waiting in line at crowded tourist attractions. Of course visiting the Colosseum in Rome or the Ruins of St. Paul in Macau, China, are must-dos, but so many times, the best part of travel is experiencing where the locals like to go.
You booked a vacation with a friend to Australia. When you arrive down under, you both are having an amazing time exploring all the top tourist spots in Sydney. Then you stumble upon a cafe in Manly Beach. Sipping coffee, chatting with a few locals begins to happen, and you tell them you still have a full day before your departure. “What do you recommend we see?” Your new friends immediately jump into the conversation with a small winery in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney. Sold. The following morning you drive out to the winery and are welcomed with plates on top of plates of charcuterie, cheeses, unique spreads, and fruits. Of course delicious Shiraz and Semillon follow. A local band begins to play bluegrass music. You enjoy friendly conversation with other wine-goers, and sip local wines overlooking a vineyard weighed down with clusters of sun-kissed grapes. You are quite possibly the only tourists there. The experience is perfect. The unique memory was the highlight of your travels.
Talking with locals or reading through your in-room Club Traveler magazine can give your dream trip a whole new perspective. As an organized traveler, you might love having a plan of things to do before arriving to a destination, so stay up to date with our monthly Club Traveler newsletters.
How do you find locals in cities covered with tourists? Guidebooks such as Rick Steves and Lonely Planet, and websites such as TripAdvisor, offer great ideas for local neighborhoods and restaurants. There are also several apps that offer ideas of how to travel like a local.
Do you have a love of coffee? Or crave chai lattes? Finding the best beans and leaves during travel is a must. Enjoying a cup and reading a book in a local cafe can be a highlight of a trip. The Beanhunter app can help visitors find and share great coffee and cafes. Users browse through cafe and coffee house listings, view gorgeous images, and reviews to decide where to go. The app’s map feature will help you get there.
“Authentically local, on-the-ground advice” – The Guardian
After a fee of $3.99 per city, Spotted by Locals is an offline city guide curated by locals who write about their favorite spots. The app runs 100% offline (this is great to avoid overseas roaming fees), full city maps, includes local recommendations only (no tourist traps), lists spots nearby you and how to navigate there, and is updated regularly. Sometimes when we travel and use Yelp or TripAdvisor to look up a restaurant, there are way too many choices. This app is great because if you really want to travel like a local and find authentic gems in a city, your selection process isn’t so overwhelming.
“When you’re visiting a city that’s not your own, you’re going to need some tips for where to go, what to do, etc. Yes, you could Yelp it…but wouldn’t you rather hear it straight from a local you trust?” – Mashable
Similar to Spotted by Locals, Localeur can help you discover locals-only tips on the best places to eat, drink, shop, and see the outdoors. You can search for places by category. The app will save your favorites and build your itinerary for an upcoming trip. Users can also follow Localeur on Twitter and Instagram.
A little like a dating site for tour guides. Travelers can sign up to find a local for a tailor-made city tour and discover the true beauty of a city from a local’s perspective. You can communicate with locals and spend time visiting sights that really interest you. Some of the best travel memories are made at events and activities unknown to the traveler. An art gallery opening, a pop-up chef’s meal tasting, or even sipping Champagne in a rooftop garden lit by 10,000 twinkle lights can be unveiled to you by a city insider.
As a local, you can create a profile, sign up to give tours, and create your own schedule. As a tourist, you can see the locals in the selected area, filter locals according to criteria such as languages, activities, etc., and you can simply create a trip for your next destination and receive suggestions from locals.
For the active traveler that wants to get outside and really cover a lot of ground, CycleMap supports visitors to get the most out of their bike ride. Users can get recommended bike rides or customize their own. You can get detailed information about your route (road surface, distance, elevation gain, etc.). Cyclists can find bike share stations and recommended points of interests that other cyclists enjoy on their rides such as scenic lookouts, bike shops, water, and more. Whenever cycling in a new city, follow where other bike enthusiasts are riding to and you will always find great cafes and vantage points along your ride.
Travel Like a Local
On a trip, nothing beats a real conversation with locals chatting about all the things they personally love about their city. But combining forces with Club Traveler, social media and apps, can provide you with the ultimate travel like a local experience on your next getaway.