It’s asparagus season in my neck of the woods and I know just the place to go to get ‘fresh that morning’ spears. It’s a small roadside stand that is only open for a few weeks in May/June during the season. When I want to get the best garlic, I’ll take a back road for a few miles to a small farm that grows heirloom bulbs – the best you will ever taste. Then, on occasion my sweet tooth will send me in the direction of my local bakery where they make the greatest rhubarb tarts on the planet. These secrets are what make the place so special. Guests at both my vacation rental cottages have the benefit of all these secret spots too in my Guest Guide and I often hear how much they love to live like a local.
Banana Bread, home-made ice cream and secret trails
When we vacationed in Maui the owners guide book told us about wonderful banana bread and fresh-made coconut ice cream, from separate places on the Road to Hana. In Costa Rica we found an out-of-the-way restaurant near Uvita that was tiny, but could challenge Michelin starred places in terms of creativity, presentation and taste. Our hosts in Sedona pointed us in the direction of lesser-known hiking trails not trodden by the tourist crowds in search of the vortex experience.
Going where the locals go creates an authentic experience
My elder son is currently on a round-the-world trip that has taken a year so far on the Far East alone. His blog posts on his journey are rich and varied but without exception point to the benefits of living like a local and using insights from hosts and fellow travelers to enjoy a location from the perspective of residents and not the tourist hordes. That’s not to say you want to avoid the ‘bucket list’ spots – I would not have missed the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower on my travels, but finding the restaurants where the locals go, or the secluded waterfall that’s not in the tourist guide is often worth the trip alone.
Everyone sharing benefits everyone!
When I am in a vacation rental, I love to see a guest book that has a section for guests to comment on the places they have enjoyed (and the ones they didn’t), and will always contribute our experiences. We see it as our way of giving back to the owner for sharing their place with us – it’s the least we can do to share what we did while we were there. It’s even better when the owners have taken all those reviews their guests have left and compiled a Live Like a Local Guide to their area.
Our wonderful brand of accommodation offers so many opportunities to share the best of where we live and where we stay. Not only does this make for a great vacation experience but it helps the local economy too, and that’s where it really counts. So, go on….if you loved the rhubarb tarts from the bakery, or the home made jam from the farmer’s market, let everyone know, and we’ll all benefit by learning to live like a local.
Do you have any travel experiences that made you feel like a local?. Tell us about them!