Living like a local is a fantastic way to gain a deeper understanding of the authentic culture of a place and how it has formed. From the foods they eat, the way they celebrate, and even their value system, you can better understand their unique lifestyle. For visitors and tourists, learning to live like a local can be one of the most rewarding experiences on a trip abroad.

What is Local Culture 

Local culture is the unique and heartwarming spirit of a particular place. It’s the music, the language, the arts, the folk tales, customs, festivals, and the history that give a place its unique flavor. Local culture is what makes each place more than just the sum of tourist attractions. It’s the people who have shaped and adapted that culture to make it their own.

How to Live Like a Local

  1. Explore local markets and discover local cuisine.
    Local markets are the lifeblood and soul of many cities. You can find everything from fresh produce to handmade souvenirs, and a unique opportunity to sample tantalizing new dishes. Many local markets are also home to lively music and public performances that reflect the individual flavors of the area.

  2. Learn the language.
    Rather than sticking to English, venture outside your comfort zone and learn the local language. The locals will appreciate your effort and be much more open to sharing their culture and customs. Language also helps to bridge cross-cultural gaps, allowing you to gain a greater understanding of their customs, lifestyle, and humour.

  3. Ditch your plans and immerse yourself in the culture.
    Traveling doesn’t always have to be about the next attraction or the top restaurants. Leave yourself open to discovering the unexpected. Wander away from the tourist traps and explore less popular attractions. Talk to locals and ask their recommendations, and seek out spots that are still unknown to most travelers.

  4. Connect with locals.
    Strike up a conversation with locals to gain a deeper understanding of their culture and customs, ask locals what they recommend you to visit, and don’t be afraid to take advice on board. Immerse yourself in the local community and attend festivals, events, and meetups.

  5. Respect local customs.
    Whenever in doubt always ask someone how to show respect. That can be anything from their traditional clothing to religious customs and procedures. Respectful behavior extends beyond just contemplating one’s own attitudes. It also includes being sensitive to the feelings of those around you, regardless of the outcome of your own opinion.

Living like a Local in Local Cuisine 

Food is one of the most impactful cornerstones of local culture. It’s incredibly important to gain a better understanding of the local cuisine and appreciate the ingredients and flavors that have contributed to the history of a place.

  1. Eat the traditional foods.
    Authentic local cuisine is incredibly different from what’s served in the restaurant. Eating traditional dishes cooked by the locals allows us to gain insight into the past, stimulates our senses, and connects us with the culture and people in a very tangible way.

  2. Support local businesses.
    When you decide to take the plunge into a different cuisine, do your research and determine the best places to eat. It’s essential to support local businesses to help preserve and protect the individuality of the area. Try to ask locals for recommendations instead of helpful apps.

  3. Get to grips with local ingredients.
    Local ingredients give a dish an extra level of authenticity. Learn about ingredients such as seafood, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Ask at the market, write down the names of the items, and name-drop them when you have the opportunity to dine at a local restaurant.

Living Like a Local in Shopping 

Shopping is more than just a purchasing experience. Different items represent local culture and provide a unique insight into the values of the people that live there.

  1. Seek out unique souvenirs and traditional items.
    If you want to bring a piece of the culture back home with you, there’s no better way than to buy unique souvenirs and traditional items. From jewelry to handmade crafts, visit traditional markets and shops to find something special to take home.

  2. Buy local.
    Support small businesses and buy locally-made products. In many areas, the shopping experience is sometimes more rewarding than the actual items you buy. Talking to sellers and learning about the product is a great way to learn about the values and customs of the locals.

  3. Learn about currency.
    Learning about currency is extremely helpful when shopping in foreign countries. When it comes to paying with local currency, spread yourself around different shops and familiarize yourself with the denominations.

Living Like a Local in Relaxation 

It’s important to take breaks from sightseeing and immerse yourself in the local culture even when taking time for leisure activities.

  1. Relax in a traditional cafe.
    Authentic cafes are an ideal spot to take a break, relax and meet with locals, immerse yourself in their culture, and chat with locals. On the weekends, many cafes offer speciality dishes, enthralling decor, and often a jam session or show.

  2. Share stories with locals.
    Listening to and sharing stories with locals is how you can delve deeper into their history and develop a stronger connection with their culture. Don’t be shy to share stories of your home too, as this sharing of experiences helps further break down communication barriers and understanding.

  3. Travel outside the city limits.
    Exploring the nature and countryside allows you to experience a different side of the culture. Local farmers, artisans, and nature trails provide insight into a more traditional lifestyle. Stretch your horizons and explore smaller towns and villages to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture.

Living like a local is an experience like no other and provides an in-depth insight into the authentic culture, people and customs of a place. Learning the language, exploring local markets, and attempting to understand the unique and different aspects of a culture takes time and effort. But doing so will also help foster meaningful relationships with locals and truly transform your experience.