In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about traveling like a local. And with good reason. It helps you learn about new cultures through observation and participation. It makes it easier to meet new people and find off-the-beaten-path treasures. But when it comes to travel with kids, how do you reap the benefits of blending in like a local?
Where do you start? It’s actually easier than you think, even with little ones in tow. Here are a few practical pointers to get you and your family started.
Tone Down that Wardrobe
When it comes to selecting the wardrobe for your next family adventure, steer clear of bright colors. Instead, opt for muted hues without obvious branding or logos to fit in like a local. Besides a neutral pallet, opt for pieces that can transition from daytime to evening with relative ease.
Look for clothes that are made of knit materials that won’t wrinkle when packed. With toned down colors and basic pieces, you’ll create a travel wardrobe of mix and match items that won’t put the tourist spotlight on you. Still not sure how to blend in with the locals?
Do a Google search for local news about the place where you’re headed. If you focus on stories about real people, you’ll inevitably see images showcasing how people dress. Unlike idealized guidebooks, these images will help you select clothing that downplays you and your family’s foreignness.
Know the Basics
Besides clothing faux-pas, nothing outs tourists like fumbling with foreign currencies and maps. So, get the basics down ahead of time. That means understanding how local currencies work and carrying them in a straightforward, practical manner such as a wallet or purse.
Avoid big wads of cash in fanny packs or Ziploc bags. Instead, pack enough cash for each day in your wallet or purse. If you find it necessary to carry around a large stash of cash, place it in a concealed money belt along with your driver’s license, passport, and other important documents or a hotel safe for added security.
In terms of where you’re going, have it sorted out on a map (and in your brain) ahead of time. When you plan your route and method of transportation ahead of time, you’ll look like a pro. Yes, that means boning up the night before on local maps and public transit lines, but it’s well worth it. Not only will you feel more confident, but you’ll avoid many of the tells that tourists give.
Travel Like Locals
Travel against the crowds by looking for local hangouts and haunts. Learn a bit of the local language ahead of time so that you and your kids can get around and make a little chit-chat. Even if your conversation trails off after a few formalities, you’ll be surprised by how much slack locals will cut you for having tried to communicate. And your kids will make many fast friends.
While you’re at it, look for off-the-beaten-path cafes, beaches, playgrounds, markets, and other places where tourists aren’t as widespread. Although some popular destinations are too good to be missed—think, the Roman Colosseum or Machu Picchu—that doesn’t mean you have to go to visit every tourist trap along the way. Instead, look for lovely local gems that few visitors take the time to find. It’s a great way for you and your kids to learn about a new place and meet local people.
Tips for Travel with Kids
Not only will traveling like a local allow you and your kids to see and participate in activities that most tourists don’t get to, but it may protect you and your family from criminals that target wealthy tourists. The act of fitting in like a local also requires honing your cultural sensitivity. So, you and your kids will become better global citizens in the process. And, after all, isn’t that one of the greatest benefits of travel with kids?
Interested in learning more about how to see a new place like a local? Or, need advice on places to travel with kids? We’ve got you covered. Follow our blog to stay on top of family vacation advice and ideas.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours carefully designed for families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.