This weeks theme is finding local experiences while traveling and immersing yourself into a new destination.
Travel Talk on Twitter, also know by its hashtag #TTOT, is one of the largest Twitter chats for travel. Each week a group of hosts answer a range of travel related questions. The chat runs weekly on Tuesday at 9:30 AM/PM GMT. After each session we collect the best and most helpful answers in this TTOT recap to prevent them from getting lost in the twittersphere.
Q1: What do you look for first in a “local experience”? People watching, conversation, food, music, art, sites, street life, sports, etc.? Do you try to combine some of the above or all at once?
Why do we travel? To learn? Or to entertain ourselves? For me it is to learn. Not about the place, but the people who call that place home. So, definitely conversation. Music and art also – but only as that shows the heart and soul of the people/place being visited. – @ataxiascot
First thing I look for is how to get the farthest from the “perfect looking” spots. Real experiences aren’t five-star. Those are pretend (IMHO) – @todayInIreland
There are SO many choices when it comes to “local experiences.” I’m a sports fan, so that is always on my list, but so is local
#craftbeer. But, of course, I’m going to explore the sights, too. – @StevenOnTheMove
I usually look food first in a “local experience” and I do this by talking to locals or looking up recommended places to eat by local newspapers (if they’re in English) – @thewandererblog
Usually, for me, those experiences have been music-based, such as seeing a flamenco performance in Madrid or going to the theatre in Salzburg. It’s also important to indulge in the local cuisine because I learn about unique food – like reindeer heart in Sweden! – @datelinediscov
I look for a travel experience that will benefit the local residents long after I’ve gone home. In Hanoi, college students will give you a free tour in exchange for practicing their English with a native speaker. – @terryanzur
local food, cooking classes, art alcohol, crafts, dialect, anything that makes it stand out! Check pages in the local language, don’t rely solely on English guidebooks or websites. – @japantravelbug
For me people watching is a big one – I could while away a whole day just observing locals. I also like chatting to local people as well, often they can give you great recommendations of things to see and do which are quieter and not listed in any tour guide! – @RachelOnRoute
The feeling of the place, which is best reflected in people as they gather to eat, drink, mingle amid the architecture of a town or the character of the land. Or as they celebrate their culture in music and festivals. – @TransAbroad
Q2: What’s the best way to find local experiences beyond the tour books and guides?
Ask a local! I realised how much is missed out when I read a travel guide on my home town and saw I wouldn’t recommend half the places in the book! Instagram hashtags are also a great way to see what the locals are doing as well – @wheresshellyii
Go with the locals & go independently, preferably solo. Experiences are everywhere. Stay in tiny guest houses, mingle in lesser known markets, street food stands, cafes, community parks – @SonjaSwissLife
Talk to people! Airbnb hosts, hostel front desks, taxi driver, anyone. Talk to locals and ask – @natpackertravel
I’ll either go for a walk, taking random streets or jump in a local cab and ask them where they think it’s good to go. Found some real off the tourist track places doing this. – @ChasingRonin
Ask a local bartender. – @ChinaMatt
Q3: Have you ever found yourself in a “local experience” without trying? Tell us about it!
I ended up at a wedding reception in Barbados just because I stopped to take photos of a cool house! – @todayInIreland
“Local experiences” are always unexpected. While photographing an old decaying but beautiful building in a Portuguese village, an elderly lady came by & made me understand THAT was not what I should shoot. She took me to other places better kept up & shared her pride. – @SonjaSwissLife
Best one I can think of is going to Isla Mujeres, got talking to the colectivo driver and because he found our terrible Spanish amusing (and was glad we tried) he took us to the car ferry instead of the tourist ferries. This meant getting across was only 40 pesos each! – @natpackertravel
Every single day of the 1998 “hitchhiking across Borneo trip” seemed to throw up a truly local experience”. You can’t plan these encounters – they just happen (you just have to put yourself in a position where they can). – @ataxiascot
Many times. I offered to move over a seat in a crowded Tokyo restaurant for a group. They later invited me out for drinks and more food. – @ChinaMatt
Q4: Does looking for local immersion make you realize you are inherently an outsider? If so, what is your reaction to this awareness? Or do you believe that you have experienced “total immersion” during a local experience?
Visitors can never fully immerse themselves in a local experience without living in a place long-term, and even then it depends upon what you choose to do. – @natpackertravel
I am an outsider everywhere, even in my home town. So …. :) – @RTWBarefoot
It’s clear to me after decades abroad I’ll always be an outsider & its OK. I am who I am & don’t pretend to be or want to be a local. Many are outsiders in their own countries. Local experiences can be daily – enriching our lives & others. – @SonjaSwissLife
I’m definitely aware of being an outsider, whether I’m looking for local immersion or not. But I think looking for local immersion helps a little with that awareness. I haven’t ever experienced “total immersion” & I think that depends on how long you spend in a place – @thewandererblog
I’m very much aware that I’m probably an annoying traveller and sometimes that makes me not want to interact/bother people, but then other times I’ll find the randomest things in common with locals and that brings us together – @wheresshellyii
Yes. Most definitely. And the more “local” the immersion, then the greater is the realisation that you are simply being part of something momentarily. And that your existence will soon revert to what is “normal” for you. – @ataxiascot
Partial immersion is a possibility……… go with the flow, without trying to hard to fit in, you’ll be accepted (or tolerated) at least for a while… if you are able take at least some part in the local drinking rituals it helps. – @MrBobPowers
Existentially, we are all outsiders at home and abroad at some level, though sometimes solo travel and even living abroad can create moments, almost epiphanies, where one is “looking down at oneself.” Yet moments of shared laughter often counter such experiences – @TransAbroad
Q5: What “local experience” do you look forward to trying on a future journey?
The past few days I’ve been researching the perfect onsen in Japan that I can try next year! – @wheresshellyii
For a local travel experience, it would be fascinating to eat more often in local people’s homes – even organized. Many locals would like to exchange with other cultures. This is happening eve-rywhere as local people open their homes & their hearts. – @SonjaSwissLife
I’m going to do just that! Stay local! :) The no. 1 TripAdvisor “thing to do” in my hometown of Hitchin is the @B_S_Museum and I’ve never been!! – @biggsytravels
I bought my wife a “walking tours of London” published in the late 1800s. Looking forward to following them in London over Christmas. – @digitalGeek_au
I think the two things I most look forwards to is being invited into peoples homes and live, spontaneous, music. even better both together…..and better still if I can join in someway!!! – @MrBobPowers