Travel has changed a lot over the last decade or so, and one major way in which we’re seeing this transition is the newfound emphasis on experiencing new destinations rather than just visiting them. The modern traveler doesn’t want to be segregated behind the high walls of a resort, instead travelers want to get out and embrace new cultures. Going local sounds easier in theory than in practice, so we thought we’d devote an entire hour to this important topic and learn from our audience how they go local when traveling.
What is a Twitter chat? For those not familiar, TripIt holds a monthly chat on Twitter on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 2-3pm Pacific Time under the hashtag #TripItChat. Every month there’s a new travel topic where we encourage participants to share advice with one another. To learn more, please visit my website.
Here are some of the key takeaways from our last #TripItChat on Going Local.
What Does Going Local Mean?
We talk about it a lot, but as it turns out traveling with a local focus means very different things to different people.
- For chat cohosts @ThePlanetD, going local means slowing down, staying in one place, taking time to explore and getting to know the people and culture.
- Chatter @erronious considers it to be anytime you go off of the beaten path.
- Bringing up a great point, @chellexplore said that going local also means patronizing local businesses and vendors when you travel.
- Another chat cohost @LeeAbbamonte tweeted that going local is doing things off the tourist track that locals who live in a city do—staying in neighborhoods not hotels.
Meeting New People
Although travel is a very personal experience, meeting new people is a big part of it for most of us. That’s especially true when meeting locals, so we asked everyone how they meet people when they travel.
- Chat cohost @OrlandoChris said that no matter how he does it, meeting new people is vital for every trip he takes.
- Starting with a smile is a universal starting place pointed out @SandiMcKenna.
- @mbcohn shared two great ways—talking to shopkeepers and chatting with participants on tours.
- One of our favorite tweets came from @elatlboy who succinctly said “Coffee shop in the morning, local pub in the evening.”
So does going local really help make our travel experiences better? To find out, we asked everyone to share their best travel moment that came as a result of following advice from a local.
- At the top of the list for many was fantastic restaurant and café recommendations, as shared by @LeeAbbamonte, @OrlandoChris, @LandLopers and more.
- Chatter @AmyTaraKoch said she followed local advice to find some amazing “secret” spots only known by locals in the labyrinth souks of Morocco.
- Chat participant @findinganeish once enjoyed an informative tour around the Kremlin Museum by a local, all as a result of being friendly.
- Finding amazing spots for photos can be a challenge unless you know a local, as @RCheesley discovered while exploring Nepal.
Local Travel Tips
Going local that first time can be daunting, so we asked everyone to share their best tips for experiencing local culture.
- @mcnuttsc shared three fantastic tips: research ahead of time, don’t be afraid to ask questions from locals and be willing to try new things.
- Travel pros @theplanetd once again had great recommendations including making sure to spend time in just one place and get to know it very well. Visit local pubs, cafes and meet neighbors.
- Instead of asking a concierge what to do, @RickGriffin suggested to instead ask cab drivers, housekeeping staff and wait staff for their recommendations.
- Just being aware is sometimes enough as @amberparkcouple pointed out when they advised to taking public transportation and paying attention to everything around you. Amazing what you’ll discover!
Sometimes NOT Going Local is Best
After all of this advice, there are some instances when it’s best NOT to go local, including in these situations.
- Safety should be a traveler’s number one concern and @OrlandoChris advised not to go local when destinations have safety and security warnings in place.
- @LeeAbbamonte said he doesn’t go local if there’s unrest in a country.
- Many people pointed out the importance of being a tourist sometimes. There’s a reason why popular places are popular, so don’t skip those tourist sites especially if it’s your first visit.
What are some ways you’ve gone local on your travels?
Don’t forget to join us for the next #TripItChat on November 19th at 2:00PM Pacific/5:00 pm Eastern when we’ll be talking about Holiday Travel!