Authentic Travel: How to travel like a local by The Travelling Light

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There’s this funny idea deeply ingrained in the way we travel, that when we visit a new place we’re expected to spend our days ticking off a very specific, one-size-fits-all to-do list, no matter your age, background or interests. The list consists mainly of old buildings, museums, revered works of art, bridges, squares, statues…you know, all the big, important, very old things.

This way of travelling is actually based on an outdated, centuries-old travel tradition. The Grand Tour was the coming-of-age trip taken by the young men of Europe’s upper-middle class. You studied Renaissance works of art, marvelled at feats of architecture, listened intently to orchestral performances; it turned you into a very cultured young man indeed. But it seems odd that the entire world now travels according to this same formula when you stop to think about it.

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A new style of travel is definitely emerging though, a style that values the everyday, real experiences in the place you’re visiting. Rather than holding the grand and the very old things in high regard, the new travellers favour the less flashy, the more everyday experiences you can have in a locale. You might not be able to pick up a souvenir, but the experience itself is enough to take away all on its own.

Here are a few tips to get you started thinking about travelling a little differently. Simply type your city name and the keyword in to Google to start researching your next trip!

Go house hunting

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Surviving 1800’s terrace houses in Fitzroy, Melbourne

Ask around or recruit the help of Google to find a cute suburb out of the centre of town, where normal people actually live. Local houses say a lot about life, culture and history in a city.

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South-East streets of Portland, Oregon

Spend some time walking suburban streets, getting a feel for everyday life, noticing the differences between your home and theirs and following the streets wherever they take you.

Eat at local cult favourite haunts

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Nom Wah Team Parlour, Chinatown, New York

There’s always those really average-looking, ‘hole-in-the-wall’ type places you’d walk right past in a city if someone hadn’t told you with wild eyes that the dumplings/pho soup/reuben sandwiches/Belgian fries in there were the best they’d ever had.

Research the local cult favourite restaurants in the city you’re visiting – the local online newspaper articles always refer to these places as having a ‘cult local following’ so that’s a good word to Google. Taking the time to research these little places the locals cherish is well worth it – very good food and a cheap bill will always be your reward.

Join in on weekends

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Locals come together on Sundays in Dolores Park in the Mission, San Francisco

Ask around a little when you arrive in a new city, to a waiter, to a taxi driver, to a stranger in the street, ‘What do locals do on Saturdays and Sundays in this city?’ Every city is different but there’s usually some suburban street where everyone goes for brunch or a park where people while away the day or a spot along the river where people dangle their feet over the edge all afternoon. Soak up the good vibes of people spending their weekends well.

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Saturdays are well-spent at Maltby Street Market in London

Find a community garden

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Sample delights made with organic produce from the very same garden you sit in at Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

Breathe in nature and see some local flora too by seeking out a community garden in the city you’re visiting. There’s often a cute café attached to these places, or in some cases you can actually sit amongst all the greenery and eat dishes made from the garden’s own produce.

Take the bus

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See all of San Francisco by public bus

Riding around on the public bus is a great way to see a city. Often when we travel in big cities, the underground train is the most convenient way to get around. But you miss the journey and you miss seeing the sites above ground this way. So opt for the bus, perhaps pick one or a few general spots you’d like to hop off at along the way and just enjoy the ride with eyes open.

Forage in a market

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See all of San Francisco by public bus

Riding around on the public bus is a great way to see a city. Often when we travel in big cities, the underground train is the most convenient way to get around. But you miss the journey and you miss seeing the sites above ground this way. So opt for the bus, perhaps pick one or a few general spots you’d like to hop off at along the way and just enjoy the ride with eyes open.

Forage in a market

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Flower haul from the Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam

Cheer on the local team

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One Response to “Authentic Travel: How to travel like a local by The Travelling Light”

  1. I don’t remember a market garden in the middle of Singapore or Hong Kong could you tell me please where to go? Maybe another thought go to these places and work there that way you really understand the people – not like the AUstralians that stay at Earles Court and pull beers!

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