Go Local !
Going local is the part of travelling that a lot of people actually enjoy most. If you think back at your own vacations, meeting local people or taking part in local activities, like festivities, are often some of your best memories. To us they are for sure! There are however some things that you need to pay attention to because interacting with locals and visiting places that are part of their daily life are sensitive activities. You also would not want foreigners to behave disrespectfully in your own local environment!
- Treat the locals with respect. No one wants to be treated purely as a tourist attraction or beautiful photo opportunity.
- Get to know and respect local customs. Realise that other people have different time concepts and thought patterns. You are a guest in their country, so try to adapt your behaviour.
- Be open to the possibilities and way of thinking of the people you meet. This could lead to interesting conversations in which you can learn from each other.
- Most locals are interested in meeting tourists; they like talking to you about their own traditions and they are interested to hear where you come from, your culture and lifestyle. This way you get to know each other and you really feel like you are travelling! Tip: try to get into a conversation with someone outside of the tourism industry. These locals are often overlooked because they are less visible for tourists. Farmers, for example, are often very proud of their work and they like to share their story with you.
- A must do is spending your money on local products and at local shops. This often provides you with a more unique holiday experience while also supporting the local economy. Spending at your international hotel would namely mean that the money will flow out of your destination back to the home country of your hotel. You can find more tips on local expenses here.
- Visiting local events and festivities is a great way of experiencing local culture up close! It is always very special to be a spectator at religious or folklore festivities that are held only there. There is often a sense of togetherness when celebrating together with the locals and you also get to know a culture really well. Keep an eye on when the festivals are taking place and book your journey around it. However, keep the local customs and traditions in mind and only take part in festivities that tourists are welcome at.
- Sometimes it could be really tempting to take photos of local people because they might look different or undertake different activities from what you are used to at home. However, they are not tourist attractions and chances are that they do not want to be photographed. Therefore, we advise to always ask for their permission in advance. If someone does not want to have their picture taken, respect this! In some countries, people do not want to be photographed because they believe that their souls will be taken away when this happens.
- When packing your bag, try to avoid packing clothes that would not be appropriate in the country of your destination. There are countries in which short clothing and bare shoulders are seen as inappropriate whereas for others you might need to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting certain (spiritual) sights. In general, it is best to adapt to local customs. You will see that you will be treated with more respect and that you will feel more comfortable.
- Don’t be too focussed on finding ‘paradise on earth’ or authenticity. Think of your visit as an enrichment of your life and be grateful for every new experience, however it comes. After all, you are able to enter another world and experience some of it.