Travelling can mean a lot of things to different people; for some, it is a mere retreat from their work commitments, for few others, it’s a way to indulge in new adventures while many see it as an opportunity to explore a completely new culture. Sadly, people who prefer visiting touristy places and dine at expensive restaurants miss authentic local culture while travelling. From meeting new people and trying the traditional cuisine to celebrating a regional festival, having a local-like experience helps in making the most out of every trip.

In case you want to enjoy a local experience, here are some tips for you:

1. Plan a Long Trip

The foremost thing to keep in mind for planning a trip filled with enriching ‘local experience’ is the duration of the trip which should be at least 5 days. People spending more time at a destination are more likely to explore new things and new places. On an extended vacation, tourists get more time to observe the customs and traditions of a place and participate in their everyday life.

2. Learn about the Culture and Traditions in Advance

As soon as the destination is finalised, you must do your homework & research about its heritage. It is quite important to be familiar with the societal norms of the destination or else you may land in trouble. If time allows, learn their language or practice the dialect of the natives. By doing this, you will feel more confident while interacting with the locals and vice versa.

3. Visit during a Regional Festival

Another suggestion to ensure a ‘local experience’ while travelling, is to plan the trip during a regional festival. During this time, tourists can participate in the celebrations and learn about their traditions, culture and food. For example – the best time to visit Puri is during late June for Rath Yatra and Mysore is during Dasara.

4. Stay With Locals

For a first-hand experience, you should prefer staying in the vicinity of residential colonies which are often not considered as a ‘prime location’. The chances of interacting with the locals and making some friends are higher at such places. You can also opt for a homestay which are not only cheaper but also great to gather info on the local way of life.

5. Enjoy Food at small eateries or dhabas

You must try local cuisine of the destination. Not only is the local food cheap but also, the whole experience of trying a traditional dish at an inexpensive eatery surrounded by new people is good learning. It is astonishing how the same spices and veggies taste and smell completely different when cooked in a different region.

6. Ditch the Camera

Tourists tend to carry a camera wherever they go; there is nothing wrong with capturing the best moments of a vacation but it does have some disadvantages. Carrying a camera always and clicking pictures of the locals may lead to repulsion. They might not be in their best behaviour during interaction and may also mislead you.

Pro Tip: Rely on cell phone cameras for capturing pictures and avoid clicking the locals.