Local Travel — It’s About The People You Meet
Local travel and connecting with locals is going to be a major part of what we do here on Grantourismo. Because sometimes it’s the people you meet on your travels, as much as the places you visit, that makes travel meaningful and memorable.
Whether it’s an all-night conversation with an engaging character on a plane or train, the friendly receptionist on the hotel desk who never forgets your name, the owner of the corner store you buy your groceries from who teaches you a new phrase everyday, or an artist who enlightens you with insights into their culture you never imagined possible, simple or complex, encounters with locals, with strangers who become friends, can really make a trip and become one of the things we treasure most about a travel experience.
Yet whenever we read (and write) travel guidebooks, the majority of the content is always about the places to go, the things to see, and the stuff to do.
Occasionally — and it’s certainly a growing trend and one that we have contributed to — there might be an interview with a local or a box with insider tips, but the inclusion of anything more to do with real living-breathing people is rare.
And yet for many travellers, meeting people is a major part of their travel experience. So why don’t we have more guidebooks and magazine stories that introduce us to local people and more text about the local people we might meet on our travels? Would these things not be just as much an incentive to explore a destination as a museum or art gallery listing?
For us, meeting people has been one of the most pleasurable parts of our work as travel writers — which is why we decided that meeting locals, local travel, living like locals, and learning locally, would be such an integral part of Grantourismo.
This quest of ours arose partly out of the frustration we’d experienced working as travel writers where we’ve met people we’ve found fascinating — sculptors and chefs, politicians and poets, musicians and filmmakers — and yet we’ve not been able to spend more time getting to know them.
Because it is those local people, especially people with expertise and specialised knowledge, who always give us the best tips for restaurants, bars, local markets, shops, music venues and art galleries, the tips that make it into the guidebooks we write that travellers now use.
As a result, we’re making it an integral part of how we travel from now on: we’re going to be on an ongoing mission to meet locals, and to get to know local neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities through the eyes of locals, to introduce them to you, and to ask them to share their insider secrets, hidden gems, local tips on what you should do, where you should go and what you should eat, and how they recommend you should go about ‘living like locals’ in their hometown.
We’ll be tapping into these local perspectives, insights and experiences through our Local Knowledge interview series and filing other posts about interesting locals we encounter under Local Travel in ‘Meet‘.
Because for us, it’s these kinds of interactions with locals that make the experience of a place all the more enriching and authentic. And besides, how many guidebooks can we lug around on the epic journey we’re about to begin?
How important is meeting people for you? Do you make an effort to meet locals when you travel? And when you befriend people, how crucial are those encounters to your experience of a place, and whether you enjoyed it or not? We’d love to hear what you think.
Pictured? Some of the people we met across the Middle East who have made our work as travel writers all the more enriching.