Living La Vida Local on Your Next Vacation

If you want to have a vacation experience that isn’t the usual canned tourism, take your getaway out of the box. Next time you pack your bags, have the adventure of living like a local in a totally new place. Here’s how:

Set Up House: 

Whether you stay in a B&B, or check in through AirBNB, nothing gets you settled into a place faster than staying with a local resident or renting from one. You can ask about great places to eat and shop, get tips on local entertainment and nightlife—it’s like having your own personal concierge. And a really well informed one at that.

Eat Local: 

You don’t want to just flip through a guidebook to find the best places to chow down. The best food is fresh food, and local food is the best in fresh. Eating locally is about more than pointing at a menu item that touts itself as local. It means learning about the agricultural, cultural, and culinary history of a place, so that you know the dishes and foods that are indigenous. It also means stopping at a roadside vegetable and fruit stand, visiting a small town bakery, and trying out street fare.

Make New Friends: 

Have you ever travelled to a place and felt that you have a big sticker on your forehead that screams, “Tourist!” Travel destinations always have a population of locals who get to live in paradise year-round. These are the people you want to get to know. They will show you a side of paradise that few except the most insiders get to see, eat, and experience.

Do Something a Resident Would Do: 

To get to know the town from the inside out, you need to think like a resident. Grab a cup of coffee at the local breakfast joint. You’ll find a whole committee of ensconced locals all too ready to share their favorite places around town. Head to a yoga class and meet the person on the mat next to yours. Look up events at the local community that would attract locals, and try something that you might never try at home. Cupcake decorating, anyone?

Take Your Pets Along: 

If you are checking into a vacation rental by owner, see if pets are allowed. One of the great things about the trends in renting local homes is that often pets are allowed as well. You may have to pay a small fee, but it’s worth it to have your four-footed friends to make the place more homey. Nothing says local like taking your dogs for a walk through a neighborhood. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors. Integrating your pet into your vacation can open you to a host of activities you might not have considered. (If you’re an animal lover, it goes without saying, but animals should never be left in cars with the windows closed or in your rental unsupervised for extensive lengths of time.)

Take a Hike: 

As long as you’re heading out the door with leash in hand, why not check out some of the local parks and hiking trails. Getting to know the natural beauty of a destination is one of the best advantages of living like a local. Depending on the area, you may find yourself on a trail that circles a town lake or meanders to a hidden waterfall or stupendous views. Check in with the local parks department for the special gems where you are staying.

Go for a Sunday Ride:

Whether you are going by bike or car, head out the door, and hit the roads. The best way to get to know a place is to buy a map (yes, the real paper kind) and strike out. The open road is a great way to get an introduction to a new place. You’ll be amazed what you discover when you start exploring.