Authentic Travel Living Like the Locals

I believe there are basically two types of travellers, those who like to visit a place, enjoy the sites and the experience, but basically stay as an outsider. That is, they stay in a hotel and whilst they may tentatively try the local cuisine, they basically stick to a diet they know, and they move around locally in a tour group or by taxi.

Then there is the traveller whose whole purpose of travelling is to get to know the local culture. These people will eat the local food, travel by local transport, and interact as much as possible with local people.

One great to have an authentic vacation is to try a homestay, where you share a house with a local family. Depending on where you are, you may not experience as much comfort as you would in a luxury hotel, but you will get a genuine insight into the local culture simply because you are sharing it.

You can enjoy a homestay just about anywhere in the world, and be as authentic as your body can take.

For instance, I know a woman who lived as a Maasai woman for a while in Kenya. She lived in a village, in traditional accommodation. She dressed like a local, although she is a blonde, so would have stood out, and even performed the everyday chores, such as carrying the water from the local well. She told me that she loved the experience, except for the fact that the diet was mundane.

Another friend of mine did a home stay in a Manhattan apartment and also loved the experience as he actually felt like a true New Yorker, travelling by subway, visiting truly local restaurants, interacting with the neighbours, and trying first-hand the New York lifestyle.

You can try homestays in really small apartments in Tokyo; Hmong villages in Laos; practically anywhere you choose in Turkey; just about anywhere in India; in some of the sprawling cities of West Africa. Just about anywhere, in fact.

Living with local people; sharing their homes, their food and their company is a very pure form of tourism. It can be quite basic, or it can also be quite luxurious. Sometimes a homestay involves living in a castle or mansion. One benefit of homestays is that your money is directly benefitting local families, so it makes good, responsible, economic sense to try living with locals. Plus, their world opens up as well, because of the experience that they’ve had living with you.

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