10 Travel Hacks to Get a Truly Authentic Local Experience

10 Travel Hacks to Get a Truly Authentic Local Experience

We’ve all heard it before: “I’ve had THE best local experience ever!!” But how authentic is it, really?

We’ve all heard it before: “I’ve had THE best local experience ever!!” But how authentic is it, really? In fact, how are you so sure that you weren’t just sold an ‘authentic’ experience? To be totally honest, you don’t! Luckily for you, though, we here at TripZilla have some neat travel hacks lined up for you to make your next travel experience as local as possible read on to find out more!

1. It’s All About the Mindset  

Image credit: katerina r.

What is ‘authenticity’, really? No, my friends, it’s definitely not the glossy images showing how the locals really live, or the pixels on the screen depicting an almost-too-perfect image of a traveller really getting it on with the natives. If you think about it, these photos would look downright ridiculous if it were you being ‘authenticized’, wouldn’t it? The fact is, times and people are a-changin’, so there’s really no value in trying to hunt for the ‘true’ local experience. Instead, really open up your minds to whatever your destination has to offer you! Now that’s authentic.

2. Talk to the Locals – and Not Just About the Weather

Image credit: Didriks

Who else would know the place better than the inhabitants themselves? And when you talk, don’t just prattle on about the weather, or how good the pizza was, or how the sunset looks simply a-maz-ing! Instead, delve into their lives, what they do, how they live, what they think, and if the conversation trickles on and on, maybe you’d even really learn a thing or two!

3. Really Get Into the Heart of Your Destination

Image credit: Global Panorama 

How else are you going to get a truly authentic local experience? Not from following a generic tour group around, not from visiting the most tourist-infested spots, and definitely not from eating at places that are touted endlessly over the Internet! Instead, take time to research properly being heading off to your dream destination. And here’s a bonus for you: if you’re planning a trip to Italy anytime soon, definitely check out Ergo: Travel, a travel agency that focuses solely on Italy! Talk about specialisation much?? This agency promises to show you the ‘real Italy’, far beyond what the usual tourist gets. Pretty neat, huh? That’s a few hours saved on research!

4. Don’t Spend Half Your Day on Your Gadget

Image credit: Nigel Burley

I mean, really, did you just spend so much money flying halfway around the world, just to use your phone even more? Yes, yes, I know how exciting it is to be in a new place, and how it makes you want to post multiple statuses and photos on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter… Yes, I know! But while you’re doing that, you’re totally depriving yourself of a few good hours in a totally different land! Resist the temptation to connect online, my friends, and instead choose to connect offline with your destination instead.

5. Download Good Travel Apps

Image credit: Perspecsys Photos

As ironic as this sounds, and as contradictory as it is to my previous point, some travel apps are seriously useful in bringing you deeper into the culture of your destination. For example, Grouper links you up with locals looking for a meal or drinks with you – the tourist – for a good time with some local flavour, whereas Localeur presents to you suggestions by locals on where to eat, chill-out at, stay, shop, and more! These apps really bring the locals’ input directly to your face, which is always good if you want to experience the ‘local experience’.

Also Read: 10 Travel Apps That’re Actually Useful

6. DON’T Stay in Hotels Unless You Really Have To

Image credit: Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau

And by ‘unless you really have to’, I really mean unless you really have to, like if there’s no other options left around in the neighbourhood, not like if you really need that cup of coffee from the hotel lobby in the morning. I’m just going to put it out there: most hotels are pretty generic. Same ol’ white bedsheets, same ol’ cream-coloured walls, same old same old. So the next time you’re hunting for a place to stay overseas, maybe stay at a cosy Bed & Breakfast, or perhaps book an AirBnB instead, for a more genuine experience of ‘living like the locals’ and where I’m pretty sure the friendly owners would be more than happy to share about their home!

7. Avoid the Local Starbucks/Mcdonald’s/Coca-Cola/Whatnot

Image credit: Marko Kudjerski

Seriously. Yes, a cuppa latte or a good cheeseburger might be pretty comforting and familiar when you’re in a foreign land, but that just totally defeats the whole point of travelling! After all, you’re here to experience the local flavour, aren’t you? And, yes, I totally agree that these establishments are probably part of the culture of whatever place you’re at, it doesn’t give you an excuse to choose these over anything else! Just imagine a traveller coming to Singapore and getting a Coca-Cola instead of a sugar cane drink. Yikes! Wasted trip much?

8. Venture on the Road Less Travelled

Image credit: Harvey Barrison

Be willing to try EVERYTHING. Okay, fine, almost everything. One of the top few things on my no-no list when travelling would definitely be eating insects and really, really gross toilets… I’m too used to nice ones, sorry not sorry. Anyway, this is definitely something that would expose you more to the local elements, and even if your experience turns out to be not-so-pleasant, hey, it’s still an experience, amirite?

9. Look Out For Tourist Traps, Seriously

Image credit: Prayitno

You’d think that this one’s a no-brainer, but really, there are plenty of tourist traps lying around, promising you a ‘local authentic experience’, so don’t be too eager to jump head-first into all these traps laid out neatly for you. My advice? Don’t try so hard to find the most ‘exotic’ or most ‘native’ experience that you can have – those are usually the MOST commercialised tourist traps.

10. Finally, Take Your Time

Image credit: PortoBay Hotels & Resorts

Don’t go too crazy trying to tick off every single ‘Must-Visit’ locations and lists you’ve seen on the internet. You’ll probably just end up spending a mere few moments at whatever place you’re at, snap a few photos as proof, and then rush off to your next location. Sounds pretty hectic and a waste of your travelling time, doesn’t it? Instead, it’s okay to linger on a little longer to really soak in and appreciate the vibes and atmosphere! The hard and fast rule is definitely quality over quantity.

So go forth, my friends, and really make the best out of your travels by having a truly authentic experience!

Also Read: What NOT to Do While Travelling

About Author

See Wah
See Wah

See Wah loves to immerse herself in the poetic side of life: art, literature, photography, and of course travelling - poetry (of the human condition) in itself. She believes that the world is endlessly inspiring and beautiful, and when her head isn’t in the clouds, she hopes to fill her life with all these things that makes life wondrous