Walking like a local…

…on foreign soil.

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Along the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland. Summer 2013.

Now that you have your pre-trip budget down and have a basic estimate for each of the days you’ll be traveling, you can look back at the locations you are going to visit. Looking at the list, you’ll probably notice one very distinct fact: most of them are probably marketed and manufactured for tourists. It’s simply the nature of the game. In fact, next week we’ll look into tour and those that are and are not really worth the cash you shell out for it.

But how do you get past skimming the surface of the places you visit and see the places that otherwise get overlooked?

Well, it starts simple (yes, here we go again) with research—this research will be a little different than what you’ve done before, however. Instead of just typing each of the cities you’ll be in into Google, start by looking into BLOGS, specifically blogs by locals or travelers who are living in area for a longer span of time (ie, a few months and up). They are more likely to know the local fare that will be going on and cool local places they frequent or have discovered. Then you can pin these to your Google map! You’ll want to save any of these sites as the information on events like local concerts and/or festivals will become more relevant the closer you get to your arrival at said location.

Next, research specific events rather than specific places. I’m from Southern California, so one thing I know happens throughout summer is music festivals. Someone who was traveling to my area could research “Los Angeles (or Southern California) Music Festivals” and find/get tickets/information to any of these events going on in their time here. If you Google an event type and the basic area you’ll be in, you will be more likely to find local ventures. You can get more specific in your search if your interests are place oriented. When my sister and I were planning our UK trip, it wasn’t until almost two-thirds of the way through that we realized one of the countries we were visiting was the same country our favorite band (McFly) lives and works in. We’d been able to see them play earlier in the year on there first tour of the US (though really only LA and New York), but seeing them again if we could was a must. We searched for the bands tour dates for 2012 and were able to find a “Day at the Races with McFly” happening in Liverpool for about the time we would be passing through the area. All we had to do was get the tickets and maneuver our plans on the surrounding days.

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My sister and I sitting in the rain for hours waiting for the McFly concert. Liverpool, England. Summer 2013.

But sometimes, more research isn’t the answer. Instead, ask around once you are there. When you are planning, you should never fill your entire trip. Busy is great and you’ll see a lot, but isn’t traveling more about what you experience, rather than what you were able to simply see? Tours that plan your trip tend to do this—fill up every second. When I visited Australia in the summer of 2004, I was a US Student Ambassador with the People to People Program. This meant I was corralled with a group of roughly 40 other students my age and five supervisors, moving from place to place by bus from Cairns to Melbourne. The trip was great; I saw and learned a lot and met tons of great people, but everything was structured and packed in. I was lucky; we only visited one country, while others I know visited a few and they had a lot less time and, inevitably, less fun. Instead of planning like this, leave time open so you can stop by a local cultural festival or street performance you would have otherwise missed.

Another option is exploring by foot once you get on the ground and heading away from the city center. Basically when looking at city planning and build up, city center will have a lot going on all the time. All roads lead here. Therefore, there will be tons to do but also lots of events manufactured just for tourists like you. Venturing away from this center, you are more likely to find local establishments from pubs and bars to music venues to bakeries and book shops. These are the places locals live away from the crazy and hectic city center. The pulse of a city can be found in its center but sometimes the soul can be found in the worlds that surround it.

So, until we go full tourist next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Walking like a local…

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