I don’t know about you, but when I am travelling, the last thing I want to do is eat at a chain restaurant or step foot in a mall.
Nothing drives me crazier than people who go to Zara or H&M while away on holiday. Granted, if you are from a small town and do not normally have access to Zara or H&M, fair play. But for most of us in the western world, these kind of stores can be found EVERYWHERE.
This globalised modern commercial culture is not the heart of a place. The local flair, population and establishments are, and these are the things I like to experience and support. Here is a short list of some of the ways you can be sure to support local while travelling:
The Superbude, a local hotel in Hamburg
- Put your instagram addiction to good use. You know that nifty little search function on instagram that allows you to discover things? USE IT. Go ahead and type in your destination into the search bar under “Places” and let yourself fall down the rabbit hole. You might have to scroll past some crap but if you find a good account from a local, you can then scour their feed for more local establishments.
- Go old school and foursquare, yelp or HappyCow the shit out of your destination for local cafes and restaurants.
- Research your destination and find out which areas are tourist traps and which areas are more local.
- Ask. Most hotels and hostels have receptionists that are more than happy to tell you their favourite local haunts. Airbnb and Couchsurfing hosts are also often more than happy to give you some tips.
- Wander. Whenever I am visiting a new city and get the chance, I like to just aimlessly explore the streets and pop into local places that look interesting. It’s 50% of the way I discover new and independent places.
- Make friends. Integrate yourself in the local population – strike up a conversation with a local that doesn’t look like he or she is going to turn shady or hit up locals onCouchsurfing who are willing to show you around or give you some local tips. Already have friends where you are going? Even better.
- Book local. Opt for a local hostel or hotel over a conglomerate chain or Airbnb/Couchsurf it!
The final step? If you want to go that extra mile, take your favourite places, plug into your own google map, and refer to it while at your destination. This way, you can plan your day around the places you have found so you can be sure to hit up the places on your list.
Photography: Rae Tilly. Top image taken at Coffee Room in Prague.
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