We’re living in a time where being a digital nomad is more common and we’re always hearing stories of people being able to live and work from anywhere in the world. This, in addition to the accessibility and affordability of cheap travel, it’s easy to be able to move from place to place; creating a permanent sense of being a “tourist” while simultaneously wanting to dive deep and engage with each culture that you experience.
The dichotomy of being a constant traveler while also wanting to truly feel immersed in a community can sometimes be a difficult, yet attainable feat. Of course, there are some travelers who are just looking to up their country count but there are others who want to experience a sustainable, responsible sense of travel and have those impactful, life-changing experiences.
It’s time to share some insiders’ tips on how to live like a local, no matter where you are in the world.
Visit During Off-Season
The best way to not be viewed as a complete tourist in a new country is to visit during off-season. Off-season is basically the time of year where certain cities and countries aren’t overpopulated with tourism. As of 2018, Spain is now the second most visited country in the world, bringing over 84 million tourists each year! That being said, it’s easy to see why some locals might be tired of tourists who are just passing through. The best way to feel integrated is to spend time in a new country when it isn’t saturated with others tourists and to try to plan our an itinerary that includes cities that aren’t major tourist destinations.
When you take time to be in a new location during off-season, odds are you’ll be welcomed with open arms. People will take interest in why you’re visiting, what you’re doing in the area and it will open up opportunities for more meaningful conversations and connection. Not to mention, when you visit during off-season, you’ll be able to experience everything for a much lower price.
Stay For Two Weeks Minimum
Rule of thumb to actually getting to know a new location; spend at least 15 days there. When you’re in a new place for a short amount of time you’ll be able to get the general vibe of what life is like there but you really won’t be able to dig under the surface if you’re only there for 3-5 days.
While that might be ideal if you’re looking to travel more, if you’re looking to really get a local experience, take your time and get to know the area. The first few days you’ll get accustomed to the culture, people, food and new scenery but after that, you’ll be able to dig deep and really get to know the workings of a city. You’ll be able to attend cultural events, exhibitions and events that might be much more meaningful than the Instagram photo in front of that special monument… but of course, if you’re around for a while, odds are, you can do both.
Have a Local Host Show You Around
It’s a fact that although big time travel sites like Tripadvisor are great for references, they will never do justice like finding all of the hidden gems from people in the area. One of the keys to making the most of your experience in a new town is having a local host.
That is one thing that makes many people’s time as Sun and Co. so special is the fact that they have hosts who know the area well to make them feel at home and enjoy the best of the city. You’re able to have all of the knowledgeable information that many don’t know about AND there is also the possibility that you’ll be able to meet their friends, making you feel even more a part of the community.
Having a local host creates meaningful connection and even an opportunity to come back and spend more time.
Do Your Research
Although having a local host is like having a personalized Google, but better… be sure to still do your research before you head out. This isn’t to say that you have to have a detailed itinerary but know a bit about the location you’re headed to before arriving always helps with creating meaningful experiences.
Do a bit of research about the customs and best practices in the country that you’re heading to. Be sure to see what the weather is like. Is tipping normal? Where are best places to eat?
When you go in prepared, you won’t spend the first 5 days in culture shock because things aren’t like what you’re used to at home.
There are lots of levels when it comes to being fully integrated in a new place when you’re traveling as a digital nomad or someone who is location independent but not to worry… it’s doable. Just use some of these tips and be able to really make the most of your time!
Do you have any tips on slow travel or living like a local? Comment below and let us know!