It has been about a decade now that I have been traveling regularly. And the last one year I have been traveling continuously. ‘How do you manage to get such odd experiences?’ is a question I get asked quite often.
Now, I would like you to imagine that it is the special elite forces training I received that allows me to get such experiences.
But the fact is, I have no special talent. I am just like every other traveler.
The odd thing I do is that I work hard to get out of the tourist trail and to live with a local. Here are three strong reasons why you should try living with a local too on your next trip.
Most restaurants are famous for a good reason and that is good food. This is why some of them are frequented by tourists. But ask any proud local and mostly he/she will tell you that the famous tourist restaurant is far from his/her favourite. Those are the hidden places I seek. And there is but one guide in this culinary exploration. The Local.
In Kochi(Kerala, India) during my 25Days25Trains project, Hari Menon took me Hotel Sehiyon on CP Ummer Road. I had no chance in hell of finding this place on my own. They take sea food damn seriously in this hole in the wall restaurant. Had some of the best prawns and fish dishes in this modest outlet. Also tried some odd delicacy here, fried fish eggs.
At less than 500 INR(8USD), two of us had our delicious fills and had to beg the waiters to stop serving.
This is just one of the many gourmet discoveries I was able to make, thanks to locals.
Another reason why I love living with locals(and also hosting travelers) are the raw and interesting experiences that you get access to. For some reason, following a tour group does not give me the satisfaction of having had an real insight into the destination(though that is a personal opinion).
Living with locals has helped me have encounters which are funny, weird or plain interesting.
Recently, I got invited to a Pichação(pronounced as pixa-sao) party in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Pichação is a form of street art where painters use crytpic signatures on walls and compete for the highest spots. It is an underground community because this form of graffiti is classified as vandalism in Brazil. But thanks to a local host, I got a brief insight into pichadores and how they party when they get together.
You might think this picture was clicked at a Bollywood party. But, it wasn’t.
This was a wedding in Sri Lanka. Most people on the island nation are Buddhist. That might make you imagine that Sri Lankan weddings must be serene and quiet affairs. They are anything but that.
Most Sri Lankan weddings are a mixture of western & Indian celebrations. There is lots of alcohol, bollywood dancers and an army of photographers. Yes, Sri Lankans take their wedding pictures quite seriously.
And how did I manage to get myself invited? Yes you guessed it right. I was living with a local.
May be I have just been lucky. But my local hosts have always treated me like family(this picture is of my local host family in Rio De Janeiro).
Trips can be challenging at times, but having a local family as your host is the best support system a traveler can have.
I hope these reasons convince you about living with a local the next time you travel(if you aren’t doing it already).
‘How to live with a local?’ you may ask. Well, its simpler than you think.
Airbnb.com: This is the best & most efficient way to start living with locals. I have been using it for years. I both travel and host using this website. Want to get started to #LiveLocal? Its really simple. Create a profile through my link on Airbnb and receive free credit for your next trip. Airbnb is also my partner on ‘The 12 Project’ and support me with free accommodation in some destinations.
Couchsurfing.com: this is the original hospitality exchange community and is a great resource if you have been using it for years. If it works, its great because you get to stay for free. But like everything free, it has its challenges. Sometimes, I have sent multiple requests without soliciting a response. So I tend to use couchsurfing for meeting people – they do have good events organised by local members of the community.
So ready for travels filled with odd experiences and of exploring hidden treasures? Share your #LiveLocal experiences with us and inspire others to #LiveLocal as well.