24 Jan 5 ways to travel like a local and get the most out of a vacation
We can travel like a tourist or we can travel like a local, but we have found that we enjoy it more when we are traveling like a local. We also benefit by it being a lot less expensive. It takes a bit more work and effort, but it more than makes up for it in the experience. Traveling like a local can cost you a quarter or less of what it would cost you if you do it like a tourist, and the experience is much more rewarding.
Check the local hotels as there can be some great bargains. We make a habit of staying in the better rooms of smaller hotels, and we are rarely disappointed. Staying in the big brand hotels is nice, but they don’t have the same heart as a locally owned hotel. We stayed in a 4-star hotel in Thailand once, which was right on the beach. It was beautiful, decorated with taste, and very ethnic. The cost of the room was 20% of the next hotel on the beach which was a Marriot. We find that staying in the bigger name hotels loses a lot of the feel of where you are. You can stand in your room and it looks like the same room as any other country you’re may travel to.
Use local airlines. Often they are not on the major consolidator sites as they might only have a few flights. You can get some amazing prices from local airlines that service the area. Check for specials as well. We always arrange our trips around specials we find and let that dictate our travel dates.
Buses (and ferries)
Busses and ferries are also a great way to get around. This is how the locals travel. You can take a bus to another city and experience the drive and area as you go. The prices are great as well. You can take a comfortable, air-conditioned bus in the Philippines to another city for about 3$. It generally costs us more to get a short taxi ride to the bus station than the bus to our destination does.
There are many different ways to get places in most countries. People work jobs like anywhere else, and the majority of them don’t have cars. They use the bus, light rail, train, microbus, trikes, and motorcycles. In Thailand, you can get a motorcycle almost anywhere; they call them Bangkok helicopters as they get you there so fast. The locals will use the cheapest and most efficient way to get around, so feel free to ask your hotel for the best ways to get places. We only ever use a taxi as the last resort.
The best way to know a city is to make a friend with some locals. Most of the time, locals are happy to chat with you. Just say hello, and tell them where you are from and ask them for advice on what you should see. Just use common sense though, as not everyone has your best interests at heart, but you can figure that out fairly fast. There is nothing better than making friends with locals and learning the ins and outs of your destination.
Locals take vacations too and have days off and fun in their own city. Most of them will try and get the most out of their money to do it. As a visitor, it’s not as easy to know what the going prices are and where to go, but with a little research, you can get a pretty good idea. Leave your schedule open though as once you are at your destination, you will find a lot of things that you didn’t know were there. Just be friendly and open and chat to locals and you will be amazed at the treasures you can find. Enjoy.