The topic is travelling – again. When you intend to explore a new city or country you tend to grab a travel guide first. That’s a good base to start out on, but they usually don’t come up with more than the tourist hot spots. How would you find those beautiful spots in a foreign place, that gives it that special charm? With the help of locals.
It’s just logical, if you think about it, but how can you get in touch? Let’s suppose you want to visit a bigger city; guided tours usually cost money and are somewhat trodden. Way too often you can see that the guides tell people the same stories day after day and the are bored. Those hop on and hop off- busses are good means to get a nice overview and to check off the „important“ stuff, but you are stuck to certain locations.
There are, however, uncomplicated possibilities to create an individual tour and gain access to actual inside tips. I love to share, so here are my favourite online solutions:
It’s a forum where people offer to host each other for free. I am not really comfortable with just staying at someone’s place if I don’t know them, but I met up with couchsurfers during several vacations and they showed me their favourite spots, which I’d never found on my own. This is an easy way to get to know locals and it is definitely worth a try. You can just post a question or a request to meet up as well and most people are really lovely and try to provide you with valid information.
This is a site where private people advertise their apartment / house or just an empty guest room for rent. I have used it several times and I love to book a room with a private person, especially when I am travelling alone, just because you’ve got someone to chat with and who can give you amazing tips. (The posts picture was taken in apartment that we rented for a weekend in Madrid via airbnb.)
You are in the right place if you don’t mind dormitories, because you can meet a lot of people in a hostel. The problem is, however, that most travellers are of course not local and therefore just as clueless as you are. They make for interesting conservtion partners, though.
There are several websites which are means of communication for expatriates (people who work abroad). Through couchsurfing I got to know a friend, who is a member of meetup as well, and I went out with her and her clique a couple of times, meeting great people. This time I was the one who knew a few nice spots, but expats usually know their way around quite well, because they tend to stay in one place for several years.
I hope that my suggestions gave you an idea about how to organize your next trip differently and that you now know how to get true inside tips by locals. Just because sometimes it’s that tiny, shabby pub that serves the best local food and only the locals would know.