Local travel, voluntourism, authentic travel, ……; these are just a few buzzwords I have seen popping up the last year. Apparently travelers are no longer just satisfied with ticking off a list of generic must-see attractions and snapping shots along the way. It seems that we all want to go beneath the surface and get to really know a destination. People are looking for simpler, more ethical and unique travel experiences that are far from their hectic daily lives according to current travel trends reports. But what is it they are really looking for?
I have spoken to many people about this subject before starting my business and the first question I always asked was ‘why are you traveling?’ The common answer was that they wanted to have a break and relax, but after that everyone immediately said that they are looking for unique experiences. Interestingly all of the explanations of this word were related to spontaneous meet-ups with local people. It didn’t matter if they were on a budget travel or that they spent a bit more. They were invited for a dinner or a party; they were offered a bed to sleep or taken to a place only known by insiders. For them these were all memorable moments.
You will probably agree that the moments described above are unfortunately not very common unless you are a non-stop traveler. Nevertheless there are definitely ways to increase the chance of having a special ‘local meet-up’. I will just share a few with you.
1. Eat with a local
The best places I have eaten where most of the time home cooked meals or little family owned restaurants. Luckily there are some initiatives that also recognize this and bring you in contact with locals who like to cook for you. Eat With and Voulez vous Diner are both marketplaces where people can offer their home cooked food to other foodies.
2. Sleep at the house of a local
You probably know AirBnb, who offers a platform where people can offer their house or room for rent. The only thing it lacks is the local experience as the owners are renting out their home because they are away or are living somewhere else. Homestay.com doesn’t maybe have a very fancy website, but offers a wide range of homestays all over the world. Its target group is mainly students.
3. Hire a local
A local who will show you around is always the best way to get to unravel a city and get to know it inside out. You will find many local-led tours online, through sites such as Vayable or Tours by Locals.
4. Ditch the guidebook
Nowadays it is not necessary anymore to carry a heavy guidebook that is taking a lot of space. Spottedbylocals for example is a series of blogs, mobile and PDF city guides with up-to-date insider tips by city loving locals.
As a fervent traveler myself I am always looking for those memorable moments, the hidden places to go to and preferably ONE online place where I can find it all to create these chances. It didn’t exists, at least, it was too difficult to find. Another thing I noticed with all these ‘local travel’ initiatives was that there was only focus on the benefits for the traveler and not at all on the benefits for the local. I thought that this could be done better. This in combination with my belief in the principles of the Sharing Economy which is about combining strengths, collaborating and sharing to create more value for more people world wide resulted in the launch of my company I Like Local.
I Like Local is a one-stop shop solution for fabulous activities with locals whether it is fishing with a local fisherman in Sri Lanka, a homestay with an Indonesian family, helping on a farm in India or cooking with a local in Vietnam. The focus is not only on the unique, local experience for the traveler, but also on empowering locals in developing countries. The locals receive 100% of the money they ask for their activity. Besides this I Like Local is also looking for other ways to support them. Interested? Check out this movie or have a look at the website I Like Local.