Traveling isn’t just about visiting sights and having fun. It’s also about getting to know a place, and its people, food and culture. It’s about immersing yourself in the local way of life and maybe even doing as the local do. For a proper local immersion, jump at the chance of doing some or even all of these things when traveling.
Visit Local Families or Small Villages. First thing’s first: travel cautiously. Do your research and make sure that the place you’re traveling to is safe enough. If it is, then you should certainly make arrangements to visit a small village where no tourists ever go or to meet with a local family. Hire a guide or do it on your own. In some countries, there are even programs that will match you with a local family and spend a day with one of the local families. It’s the best and perhaps even rewarding way to get a good glimpse of the local life.
Get off the Beaten Path. Many touristy spots are unavoidable, even absolute must when visiting a destination especially for the first time. Attractions like the Eiffel Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral and even the Santa Monica Pier at night are worth seeing at least once. But it’s just as important to get off the beaten track and see sights that are under the tourist radar. This lets you see a different side of the place you are visiting and even experience sights that are more popular with the locals.
Hang Out With the Locals. Whether over lunch, dinner, a picnic at the beach or drinks at a bar, find a fun way to meet and hang out with some of the locals. It’s a great way to get to know the people as well as their ways, what they like to drink, what they love do to during their free time. And they’ll let you in on all their best-kept secrets, from their favorite weekend spots to their favorite restaurants, and maybe even teach you their local dance.
Eat What the Locals Eat. When traveling, you must sample the local fares and get a true taste of the local flavors. Eat the dishes that the locals themselves eat. With just a bit of research and review reading, you’ll find plenty of terrific restaurants and food stands that serve these dishes. Of course, you absolutely must pick and choose where you get the food. You wouldn’t want to get poisoning from food bought at a street cart or a restaurant with unsanitary cooking practices.
Go Shopping at a Local Market. Speaking of local food, don’t just eat out the whole time. Another fun way to sample the food is to visit a market or grocery store and go shopping. Buy some of the local products—cookies, chocolates, cheeses, coffee, hot chocolate, beer and even wine—and indulge. And once you’ve sampled everything, buy more of the stuff you enjoyed most and take them home as gifts to your friends and family.