Home #WHERETONEXT Four ideas to travel like a local in your next family vacation

Four ideas to travel like a local in your next family vacation

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Have you had enough of feeling like a tourist during your vacations? Maybe it’s time to change things up and experience new cultures and customs as much as possible and feel part of the local community in your next family vacation. 

Surely some destinations are more open and accepting of visitors and willing to give more opportunities to experience the culture, while this might be more difficult in other locations. Although your destination choice might incorporate many factors, definitely finding cheap flights to a desired destination shouldn’t be missed as this is one of the biggest expenses to consider.

Take a look at our suggestions of how you can travel and feel like a local in your future vacation.

Where you choose to stay

This obviously depends on the experience you are looking for. The first option coming to mind is booking a hotel, but is this really going to give you the desired exposure to the local culture? Most probably not as hotels are a more private type of accommodation rather than a place to mingle and feel like a local.

On the other hand renting a house or a flat or booking through airbnb is a great choice for longer stays as you will be in a real local neighborhood where you can get to know your temporary neighbors and learn more about their ways of living. Weather you are staying in the mountains, a beach, a privately owned condo in a hotel, or even a house, getting the full experience living like a local is a must. Another good way to meet people in the area is by visiting the local playground or park where the locals take their kids to play. This will also expose you to the opportunity to interact with the residents.

What and where you choose to eat

One of the best ways to experience the local culture is to taste the local foods and flavors. Often the tourist restaurants with big pictures of meals and dishes listed in many languages are not the right place for this. Do some research or ask around once in the area for local markets where you can purchase fresh produce and experiment with fruits and veg you might have never tasted. Try the local bread, meats and cheeses and make your sandwiches for the day. This will save you money and also expose you to the local tastes.

When you get into a conversation with the locals, ask where they would eat and not where they recommend for you to eat as these are two different things. Get lost in the back streets and don’t be afraid to walk into small family owned restaurants which might not look glamorous at first sight. These are often the real places to please your taste buds.

How you choose to travel around

Your options depend on your chosen destination and what kind of public transport is available in the area. However try to avoid renting a car to get around as that will limit your experiences and might be hard while traveling with kids. Most countries have metro, buses, trams or trains and often offer a daily/weekly/monthly travel card which is valid for all forms of transport within the area. This could be also the most inexpensive option and is surely a great way to see the real deal of the surroundings you’ve chosen to visit.

How you choose to spend your free time

Rather than searching for the most popular tourist attractions you should do some research of family events such as parades, carnivals, shows or anything else going at your chosen destination. By attending such events you will learn a lot about the culture and customs and mix with the local families. Once you’ve made some new friends, ask for recommendations of nearby cities or villages to make some day trips and indulge in the culture even more. This could also a great opportunity to learn a new language.

Apart from the above mentioned suggestions, you should also pack lightly and take only the essential travel products and purchase all the rest while you arrive so you can try and experiment with the local products.

Finally, look up the social norms and customs of your chosen location and be conscious of those around you so you have a greater chance to fit in the local community.