I love traveling. It runs in my blood and it runs deep. If I could, I would hop on a plane at any given moment with the clothes on my back to an undisclosed location. I love the thrill and the unknown adventure that travel provides. In my 19 years of life, I have been oh so blessed to travel to many places.
It’s not just the thrill of traveling that gets me. It’s so much more than that.
It’s experiencing new cultures. It’s going through markets and meeting new people and going deeper with them than the exterior shows.
One of my favorite traveling memories is from a trip my family took in 2011. We had been in the UK for about a week when we ended up in Blarney where the famous Blarney Castle is. We stayed in a little B & B where earlier that day we saw some older men playing soccer in the field in the middle of the village.
My dad loves soccer, so later that night we thought we would go out and play, but we didn’t have a ball with us. So I asked the lady at the front desk and she said to hold on a minute. A few minutes later, a man comes to us and gives us the ball they were playing with earlier. He told us we could have it after playing with it, and now sitting in my room is an official Blarney United soccer ball!
It’s people and experiences like these that make the money and the hassle all worth it.
So, how do you really interact and live among the locals? Here are my 5 tips.
1. Be open to new experiences and bends in the trip.
I can remember multiple times where something happened on a trip that was not planned. In Ireland, we got a flat tire and we were on our way to Limrick. But then we ended up being stuck in Bunratty, Ireland and to this day, it is still one of our favorite places. Be open to these kinks in the trip, because they usually provide fun memories and experiences.
2. Stay in a central location.
One way to really interact with the locals is to stay in a central location. I prefer little B & B’s where you can really get to know the locals. Usually, the person at the front desk will talk your ear off and be so appreciative that you’re there. And by staying in a central location, you can walk everywhere, which is an added plus.
3. Dress like the locals.
I know this one sounds stupid, but it really is helpful. In countries like China, it may be a little harder, because a girl with blonde hair who doesn’t speak Chinese may be a little out of the ordinary. But in places like the UK, you can really blend in with the locals by dressing like the locals. No fanny packs, maps in your face, or camera around your neck. Okay, maybe a camera is okay cause who doesn’t love taking pictures? And don't worry, scarves are acceptable everywhere. ;)
4. Use the locals’ mode of transportation.
One thing that helps you really get the most out of a trip is traveling like the locals do. In London, get an oyster card and use the tube. In New York, use the subway. In Paris, use the Metro. In China, hop on a bus. This allows you to really get a feel for their culture and truly live like a local.
5. Don’t focus on your schedule, and leave room for unplanned encounters.
This is my favorite tip. All the time, we get so focused on being at one place at 10 am and then rushing to the next place by 11 am. Have a schedule, but leave room for unplanned encounters.
One time when we were in London, we had time to spare before going to Westminter Abbey’s evensong. So, we walked over to a local pub and had a ton of fun just sitting and talking. Leave time in your schedule for these opportunities.
Charlie is a college student living in the south and dreaming of the world. She loves traveling and all that is has to offer. She dreams of serving people overseas for a long period of time and telling them about Jesus. She loves meeting new people, all things coffee related, and the cold, winter months.