Getting a local experience during travel
One of the best experiences one can have while traveling is spending time with locals. A local experience helps you get to know a place more deeply. If you’re like me and really enjoy sampling regional cuisine, again a local is going to be your best source of info.
But it isn’t always easy to connect with a local. And not everyone feels comfortable doing something like Couchsurfing, which is an excellent way to connect with locals.
Now there is a service that helps you out, and it has a great mission—to connect people and cultures through food and unique experiences.
An additional plus is it gives locals another way to earn money while showing off their culture and country.
WithLocals.com provides a secure means to connect with a local in a variety of ways:
One of my favorite parts of travel is experiencing typical food. Rather than experience the unfamiliar on your own in a restaurant, you can use their service to dine with a local and possibly some of their family. Not only do you get to enjoy authentic cuisine, but you can make new friends while learning firsthand about an area.
I love the variety of dining experiences that can be found on the website and wish we had known about it when we were in SE Asia (this is the only region covered currently). Just check out this unique experience!
Big tour companies have no problem running their own sites and advertising. One of the things I really love about this company, though, is it gives locals a forum to offer classes, workshops, etc.
The locals get to keep the lion’s share of the fees they’re charging, which isn’t always the case if they have to align with larger companies.
You can also find some offerings that wouldn’t be so easy to discover otherwise.
Most big tour operations focus on the well-known sites. While sometimes those places are definitely worth the visit, there are often places that most tourists don’t get to experience. Why not go with a local and discover some of the less-touristed spots? See a side of the country that most people don’t get to.
This company once again provides smaller operations run by locals an opportunity to compete more and to make more money from their efforts. It’s a more sustainable and fun venture in my mind.
When we travel, I generally don’t use guide books and don’t do much research because I want recommendations from locals. I want to see the things that represent daily life, that show me more of the actual culture instead of the one contrived to make the tourists happy.
‘This site gives you that access.
What about safety?
I can understand why some people might be hesitant to just show up at someone’s home and hope they’ll be safe, that their meal is decent and that they won’t get sick. In addition to user reviews, the company also vets locals. A local ambassador visits each new potential local host, and checks are also done by the main office. Plus you have the reviews of fellow visitors.
I love this idea. I love that their mission is to help locals and that it provides visitors such a great opportunity to connect with them. These are the experiences that last a lifetime and endear us to an area.
Right now they’re only offering services in southeast Asia, but hopefully they will expand to have more of a global presence.
In the meantime, if you’re heading to an Asian country make sure to check them out.
What do you think of these kinds of services? Do you enjoy a more local experience when you travel?
June 12, 2014
I have never heard of “With locals” before, I must check that out considering we love to get the most local experience we can, that’s why we like Couchsurfing. Thanks Talon for the tips! 🙂
June 13, 2014
I wish we had known about it when we were in SE Asia.
June 11, 2014
This company offers tours how we love to travel! I wish they were in South America:( Maybe South East Asia next year. We will check them out for sure.
June 13, 2014
Yes! I’m looking forward to them expanding. We need more of these types of companies.
June 11, 2014
Personally, I always go for food first. I think it’s the gateway to learning and experiencing a new culture. How can you learn about the life of the locals if you don’t eat like them? And plus I love to eat so even better!
June 13, 2014
Yes! Food is such a big part of the experience for me as well.