Holiday like a local: 8 Essential Tips

Affordable flights have made travelling accessible to just about anyone. And with all the information we need at our fingertips via the internet, finding out about places on the well-trodden tourist tracks is easier than ever before. But cheap travel and lots of information don’t necessarily mean you’ll discover a place for yourself. And your trip of a lifetime may never venture beyond the cliché sights and sounds listed in all the guide books.

But what if you lived your holiday like a local? What if you experienced a place as it’s really meant to be? suggests some easy ways to step outside the travel guides and see your destination with a local’s eyes.

Before you go

Learn the lingo – getting to grips with a few basic phrases can make the difference between appearing to the locals as someone with a genuine interest in their culture or just another tourist. Having a go at the local language is always warmly received and you may find your attempts open doors normally closed to tourists.


Make some contacts – use the vast online travel network to your advantage and get in touch with people who live in the place you’re visiting. Use insider knowledge for on-the-ground tips and advice before you arrive and help when you get there.

When in Rome – spend some time reading up on local etiquette to reduce your chances of making those classic tourist faux pas. Check what tipping norms are. Learn how to greet people. And find out what types of behaviour are acceptable.


Live local – forget hotel accommodation and go for a holiday let. This gives you the chance to live in a local area, buy your food in neighbourhood shops and get a feel for real life. Better still, rent a property typical to the area like a canal boat in Amsterdam or a cave dwelling in Guadix in southern Spain.


When you’re there

Dress the part – find out what’s acceptable to wear and what’s not. Give a wide, wide berth to garments that shout ‘I’m a tourist’.

Get off the beaten track – leave your tourist map behind in your holiday let and walk or cycle wherever your feet take you. What you see might not be in the travel guide but it’s bound to be interesting.


What’s on – find out what’s happening locally. Pick up flyers, read noticeboards, comb the local newspapers and entertainment guides, and then go to that concert, play, exhibition, conference…

Get them talking – chat to the locals for an insight into real life in the place you call holiday destination and they call home.

Bon appetit! – find out what the local specialities are and try them. Eat beyond the tourist menus and sample the real cuisine. And then cook it for yourself with produce bought at local markets and food stores.


And when you get home, surprise everyone with your photos and tales of that well-known tourist destination from a completely different perspective – that of a local. wish you happy and safe travels!

Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

Latest comments
  • Great tips! Discovering and enjoying those local specialties is one of my favorite aspects of travel. Also, having those tidbits of the local language can be very important to create goodwill.

  • Absolutely agree with your comments, especially learning a bit of the language and buying and cooking your own food. I like it best when we can rent accommodation in a street or block that is lived in by local people rather than a holiday complex. And shopping in the supermarket or at the local food market isn’t the same chore in a foreign place that it is at home!

  • Great post. I wish more people would research etiquette and local manners before arriving in a new country – I hate to see other Brits offending locals with silly social slip-ups! I always try to travel like a local as far as I can 🙂

  • i get so frustrated when people stay as ‘tourists’ – so nice to be part of the local culture and really experience it.

  • Great tips! I always learn a bit of the language and then get embarrassed and resort to English.. Shame on me.

  • Get them talking is such an important one :)! I’d say that’s one of the best things to do to get a REAL feel of a place / destination!

  • Love the tip about not only tasting different foods but also learning how to COOK them! So much more learning potential in that case 🙂

  • When in Rome do as the Romans do! And get them talking are my kind of thing! Great tips! And I wish you happy travels too Maria!

  • I totally agree with you on this! At the end of the day we will all be tourists to some degree until we decide to settle down and get a job in an area. The difference between travellers and package tourists however is exactly what you said, making that effort. Learning at least a little of the local language, making an effort with customs, learning about, exploring and engaging with the communities you are visiting. Great post.

  • What a super list… but my only concern is the holiday letting part. Although I love the idea, I think it’s best to holiday let when returning to a destination you loved. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I really like meeting backpackers and going out hiking or touring with them. It’s a little hard to do when holiday letting 🙂

  • Many great tips, thanks. The more you trvael the more you want to spend time connecting with the locals and get under the skin of the place you visit.

  • Many great tips. When I travel I always try and mingle with the locals and eat where they eat and see where they hang out.

  • Nice post and practical tips!

  • Even with most people now glued to smartphones and tablets, newspapers remain vitally important when you’re on the road. Various dailies, and especially community papers or entertainment/alternative weeklies are often my No 1 go-to to find out what’s going on, what’s on locals’ minds, etc.

  • Great article with useful tips. We always try to find restaurants where locals eat. (Most of the time) best food for a reasonable price and it´s great to watch and talk with locals.

  • Great tips! I always seek out local restaurants, better food and more reasonable prices.

  • Great tips. When we travel we like to get a motorbike and just get lost in random towns, gives you a different ‘feel’ of the country.

    And when we can rent an appartment and cook ourself… Oh the happiness!

  • Some really good points there. I like the ‘learn the lingo’ tip especially – I always try to do that.

  • Great tips here! We actually just wrote something similar about living like a local while traveling. It’s the best way to experience a country authentically and usually helps you stay on budget!

  • Great tips! I am all for finding local accommodations. Staying in an apartment always makes me feel a little more apart of the city rather than just staying in a hostel!

  • Never heard of holiday lettings before. Thanks for great tips!