More and more people are adding leisure travel back into their lives, but interestingly, their preferences are changing. According to a recent survey, travelers are yearning for a more authentic and local experience over tourist attractions when discovering a new destination.
GetYourGuide, a popular online tour-booking site, conducted a survey to find out what people are looking for in their 2023 travel plans. Fifty-one percent of leisure travelers want to experience a new destination as locals do, while 45% said they are worried about an unauthentic experience.
Three out of five (62%) respondents to the survey reported that they felt as if their trip was “wasted” if they did not experience the local culture during their visit.
“Today’s leisure travelers are seeking one-of-a-kind experiences that highlight destinations through an authentic lens,” says Caroline Berger, Head of Brand, U.S., at GetYourGuide.
What Does it Mean to Travel Like a Local?
When most people think of travel, they picture themselves visiting famous landmarks and taking selfies in front of iconic backdrops. While there’s nothing wrong with this type of travel, it often comes with large crowds, long lines, and steep ticket prices.
If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, try activities that locals enjoy doing. This involves immersing yourself in the culture of your destination by exploring off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, seeking out local events, and trying traditional cuisine. Not only is this type of travel more rewarding, but it’s also often more affordable.
What Are Travelers Looking to Experience?
GetYourGuide went even further to find out what local activities travelers were most interested in.
- 70% are looking for culinary experiences
- 67% are interested in sightseeing
- 58% want to learn more about the destination’s history
- 48% want to experience the local art scene
- 38% were interested in mingling with locals
How Does One Travel Like a Local?
One of the best ways to travel like a local is to talk to people. Talk to the person behind the counter at the coffee shop, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus, or chat with your Airbnb host about their favorite places in town.
Another great way to travel like a local is to eat like one. Sample the street food, head to the local markets, and see if you can find some hidden gems off the beaten path. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll also get a tastier and more authentic experience.
Other ways to travel like a local include using public transportation, visiting outside of tourist season, learning the language, or attending a local event.
The Best Way To Experience A Destination
There are many reasons why people might avoid tourist attractions. For some, the crowds can be overwhelming and make it difficult to enjoy the experience. Others may find the prices prohibitive, especially if they are only in town for a short time. And for others still, the attractions may simply not appeal to their interests.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to travel. Some people love nothing more than exploring well-known landmarks, while others prefer to get off the beaten path and discover hidden gems. Ultimately, the best way to travel is the way that makes you happy.
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Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.