Visitors taking a selfie in Higashiyama, Kyoto
Visitors taking a selfie in Higashiyama, Kyoto

How to Travel Like a Local

Moving abroad is an exciting (though daunting) opportunity to experience a new city, country or culture. But, how do you know if you’re actually going to like your new home?

According to new research by, two in five (38 per cent) of global travellers choose hosted accommodation to ‘try before they buy’ prior to moving to a destination, seeking out local knowledge and expertise on subjects such as food, employment and immersion into daily life.

The survey of 21,500 travellers across 29 markets found travellers rely on the insider knowledge they can obtain by choosing to stay in hosted accommodation, whether it be a self-catering apartment, a private villa or bed and breakfast, to help them make such a major life decision.

That statistic got me thinking about how we’ve often stayed in hosted accommodation over the years, not necessarily because we’re planning to move there, but because we want a genuine local experience. We want to know how the locals live, where they eat, and what it is that makes their local community tick. Hosted stays and local guides allow that insight.

Inspired by the findings, here are our top three ways to travel like a local.

Take the public transport

Taxis are always a convenient way to get around an unfamiliar city, but they tend to be quite an unsocial experience. If you like to talk to the drivers, they can be a rich source of local info, but if not then you’re probably better off travelling via public transport.

Whether it’s a bus, a train or a ferry, taking the local option often gives you the boost of confidence you need to get out and explore on your own and to start conversations with others. It can be daunting at first, but, once you’re over that initial trip, it doesn’t take long until you’re a seasoned pro.

Eat local whenever possible

Food is one of the quickest ways to experience a new destination. The dishes, the ingredients, the combination of flavours and smells wafting through the markets and restaurants… it is foodie heaven. While we all have a craving for something familiar at times, and there is really nothing wrong with that, choosing more local food options whenever possible not only expands your mind but often ends up being the most memorable too.

Do less, see more

I used to be guilty of squeezing as much as I could into a trip, often under the assumption I would probably never visit again so had to maximise my time. Though I haven’t quite kicked the habit entirely, the new mantra I’m trying to embrace is ‘do less, see more’. By not trying to fit every single attraction into my itinerary, darting from one location to the other, it gives more time to experience the destination I’ve just travelled to, to live in each moment, and perhaps even discover something delightfully unexpected.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to travel like a local?

Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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Written by Chris Ashton