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How to Live Like a Local - Women on the Road News, Issue #061
March 12, 2013

Women on the Road NEWS #61

Recently I visited Madrid for four days and I looked online for an apartment to rent. It was cheaper than a hotel, and had a kitchen so I saved plenty on food. Even having just breakfast at home before going out for the day will make a difference. I love living like a local and I try to do that whenever I'm going to be somewhere more than a day or two.

Speaking of living like a local, I'm thrilled to introduce Amber Lamboo, guest editor of this edition of Women on the Road News. Amber is a soon-to-be lawyer from Canada and will be editing several more issues this year. This month she researched and wrote the Living Like a Local feature, the Cause of the Month, and contributed the Julia Child book review. Well done, Amber!

baby boomer travel

Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #61

How to Live Like a Local on the Road

Learn the language
Before you head to a foreign country, try to learn a few words of the language. Take a class or buy a CD and listen to it while you drive. Even a few words will help you fit in better and break the ice when making new friends.

Stay at home
Not literally but stay in a home. The first step to living like a local is to actually live like one! Avoid hotels and try an apartment or house rental, home exchange, homestay, housesitting, or couchsurfing. There are many ways to truly experience living like a local in a foreign country.

Don’t be afraid to throw your map out the window. Choose an interesting neighbourhood and wander. If there’s something special you need to see, don’t neglect the surrounding neighbourhood. Do get lost: you may stumble upon something amazing!

Talk to locals
If you do get hopelessly lost, it will be the perfect opportunity to talk to locals. Ask someone for directions. The more people you chat with, the more likely you’ll be to get great tips on the best places to eat, drink, and visit. Ask for recommendations - chances are, they won’t be what’s listed in the guidebooks.

Visit a market
The upside to renting an apartment or staying with a local family is the opportunity to use a kitchen. Take advantage and shop for groceries in a local market. There’s nothing quite like grocery shopping to make you feel at home.

Take a cooking class
Learn how to cook local dishes with local ingredients. Search online for local cooking classes. You could also ask your hosts to teach you to cook some local dishes – and reciprocate by teaching them your favorites as well.

Dress the part
You’ll fit in better if you look less like a tourist. Visit a boutique or market and purchase an item of clothing that you see the locals wearing.

Spend time in a café or park
People-watching is a popular pastime everywhere. Find a spot at a local café, sit outside, and watch the world go by. Or take a picnic to a park and spend an afternoon as the locals do, lounging in the sun.

Take public transportation
Why not travel like a local? Leave the taxis and rental cars behind and walk, rent a bike, or take the bus or subway. Most subways are fairly easy to navigate. When in doubt, ask a local for help. There’s nothing like taking the Metro in Paris to feel like you belong.

Go to the laundromat
If you’re on an extended trip, you’ll probably need to do laundry at some point. Use it as an opportunity to talk to others in the neighbourhood.

If you worship at home, or even if you don’t, attend a religious service. While it’s nice to see a beautiful Gothic church as a tourist site, it’s an entirely different experience to attend a local mass in Seville or Rome.

Look up local volunteer opportunities online. Not only will you be able to talk to locals, you’ll also be giving back to the community you’re visiting.

Overall, make sure you do what YOU want to do, not what the guidebook says you should do. Some of the best experiences are those you find for yourself while living like a local.

NOTE: When using these tips, keep in mind where you are traveling and whether safety is an issue. Ask locals if there are certain areas where you shouldn’t be walking alone. Use your judgment when living like a local.

One more thing: do you enjoy this newsletter? Then please, tell a friend about it!

What's happening at Women on the Road?

Before anything else, please let me have a word about email. Many of you write to me each month, either with comments or questions. BUT - you often forget to include your email when you use my Contact Form. How am I supposed to get back in touch with you? So if you've written and I haven't replied, ask yourself if you've included your email address and if not - write again and please do so!

Now that I have that off my chest, what's been going on this month?

  • Do you ever wonder why people are looking at you strangely when you're not doing anything out of the ordinary? Maybe you're behaving normally for you, but you might be insulting those around you. Find out how to avoid that in my piece this month on Cultural Etiquette in
  • Larry Closs of Trekworld interviewed me this month - and it is one of the best interviews I've ever been put through. He dug deep and made me think! And reminded me of that time I sat on an anaconda... Read about it in The Essentials of Solo Women's Travel.

Women on the Road Recommends

My Life in France by Julia Child

No one knows how to travel like a local better than Julia Child. When her husband was relocated to France for his career, she took advantage and made herself at home! She learned the language, took cooking classes, and became a world-class chef. Not only will her book inspire you to travel, it will also inspire you to live like a local. (review by Amber Lamboo)

How to Become a Housesitter and See the World - by Pete and Dalene Heck

Fellow bloggers Pete and Dalene have put together the ultimate housesitting resource. They've been paying their way by housesitting for years and now they're sharing everything they know with you! So if you've ever wondered how you can travel and live in the lap of luxury while you do it, you'll have to read this.

And if you haven't yet picked up my own women's travel book maybe this is the month you'll do that! Whether you're a baby boomer or not, you'll find step-by-step guidance on how to build your solo trip without having to jump on the first tour that comes along. And if you have read it and found it useful, I would love it if you could leave a review over on Amazon.

Travel News from across the Web

National Geographic's Best Trips for 2013
How to Have Fun Traveling When Things Go Wrong
The Art of Buying a Carpet in Turkey
An Unusual Way to Get Flight Discounts
10 Must-See Sights in Oslo
Unique Festivals Around the World
9 Stories of Badass Women
Weird America: What International Travel Writers Think of the USA

Destination Travel

Unique Things to Do in Rome
Finally, A Comeback for Travel to Haiti
7 Great Things About Dubai
5 Fascinating Reasons to Visit the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Lisbon Deserves its Title as European City of the Year
City Spotlight: Brasov, Romania
Guide to Kolkata Street Food

If You're Visual

Michael Turtle in Myanmar
San Gimignano in Tuscany
Shaking It at Carnival in Barranquilla
Saint Petersburg, The Hermitage
Incredible Ice Hotels
Winners of the National Geographic 2012 Photo Contest
30 of the World's Most Beautiful Bridges

And finally...

23 Terrifying Runways That Will Stoke Your Fear of Flying

Cause of the Month

Inadequate Housing

Adequate housing is a right that many of us take for granted. Some 1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing. More than 10 million people worldwide die each year from conditions related to substandard housing, unsafe water, and poor sanitation.

Media coverage has been vocal, especially in Hong Kong and Haiti, both of which suffer from poor housing.

Since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has recognized that everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. This includes protection against forced evictions and arbitrary demolition and the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to adequate housing. Housing is inadequate if it does not guarantee physical safety or provide protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, or wind. Unfortunately, this is the state of housing in many areas of the world.

Over 70% of people living in inadequate housing are women. Women are more likely to stay in a situation of domestic violence in order to avoid homelessness. In many countries, women are prohibited from inheriting land and are dependent on others for housing. It is women who find themselves confronted with the most desperate situations of housing insecurity.

For more information on the housing crisis and how you can help, please visit the following websites:

UN Habitat Fact Sheet
Habitat for Humanity
Global Village Program
Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions

In the UK:
In the US:
In Canada:

Next Month in Women on the Road NEWS?

On becoming an expat


© Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road™ News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.

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