Travel Like You Live There: Business Travel and Vacation Like a Local

If you travel enough, whether business travel or family vacations, you quickly get tired of the “stranger in a strange land” syndrome, especially if you’re returning to a city you know well, or you’ve got thousands of miles under your feet and you’re tired of being treated like a tourist.
This is where it pays off to travel like a local, getting away from the busy, overrun, kitschy parts of a city and visiting the cool and more vibrant local areas. For example, if you wanted to visit like a local in Orlando, Florida, you’d steer clear of International Drive and the theme parks, and head towards Downtown, the Mills 50 district, or even Winter Park. That’s where the better restaurants and bars can be found.
So how do you travel around a city like you’ve been there before, avoiding the accusing gazes of the locals who seem to recognize that you’re not from around here?
Times Square, New York CityFirst, according to a USA Today story, travel with a minimum of fanfare: Get there quickly and efficiently and avoid the tourist areas.
Jason Donahue, the co-founder of Sidewalk, a San Francisco neighborhood guide, suggests setting time for exploration, whether vacation or business travel. He says to go local — eat where locals eat or explore the neighborhood near a tourist attraction.
That means, do some research: Find out where the tourists stay, and then find an Airbnb or even a small hotel far away from that area. One tip is to check Yelp, find out where the cool neighborhoods are (Yelp often divides cities up into neighborhoods for classification purposes), and then find a place to stay in the area with the restaurants you want to try. You can even do this on a business travel trip: Pick a neighborhood close to where your meetings will be held. Better yet, parking is often free in residential areas.
Next, learn how to travel light. Try to pack everything into a new bag, like our new Crew VersaPack 21″ spinner. It’s small enough to fit into the trunk of a car, and you can wheel it behind you. It also means you’re not taking so much that moving around is a hassle.
Finally, lower your standards. Sheryl Hill, executive director of a travel safety nonprofit called Depart Smart, told USA Today that extended stay travelers should lower their standards. Medical practices worldwide vary and insurance doesn’t travel well, either. Insurance may not cover the treatment. Finally, don’t assume everyone speaks English—in fact, assume nothing, expect less. You’ll never be disappointed.
How do you travel to new cities or countries? Do you prefer to do all the touristy things, even when you’re there for business travel? Or do you try to blend in so you can move more easily around the city. Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: chensiyuan (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, v. 1.2)