5 secrets for travelling the world like a local

Are massive tour buses filled to the brim with tourists not your idea of a vacation? Here are a few tips to skip the tourist stuff and start enjoying your next destination like the locals do.

5 secrets for travelling the world like a local

1. Do your homework

We live in a world of virtually unlimited information. Published guides and websites offer a wealth of information about travel and destinations. Also, consider talking to a travel agent who is an expert on the region you plan to visit. He or she can provide insider tips, a list of dos and don'ts, and advice on the all-important issue of personal safety.

If you're travelling in Europe, local customs and etiquette may be familiar to you, but if you're considering a trip to Japan or China, take the time to learn about the local culture. For example, it's okay to slurp noodles in Japan and it's considered rude if you don't offer to pay the bill for the entire group in China.

2. Learn the language

The only way to live like a native is to speak the language. Take some time before you travel to become proficient in the language of the land. That way you can communicate easier and make friends with the locals.

3. Volunteer holidays

Consider volunteer holidays. You can help save the rain forests or work in a South American school while living and working among the locals. Volunteer holidays are usually organized by non-profit groups. However, before committing, check out the organization and read the feedback from former volunteers. Compare pricing and find out as much as you can about accommodations, food and water.

4. Agritourism

Agitourism is a great concept: You live on a farm, eat the local food and get to know the locals. Yes, you are working, but also staying at the farm as a guest. You can become an agritourist almost anywhere in the world. Remember to use trusted, reliable sources and factor in things like language differences when selecting a destination.

5. Swap houses

There are a number of swap sites that offer listings of houses, apartments and condos in foreign places. During your visit, you'll swap houses with a local. They'll live in your house, and you'll live in their place. Ideally, you would spend some time with them in their house before they depart so you can learn the nitty gritty of local shopping and activities. Pay attention to listing details and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Remember to thoroughly check out any organization or site you plan to use. Take your time, plan wisely and enjoy your trip.

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