Today’s travelers want to get away from commercial tourism and experience the real side of destinations. Genuine experiences include food, traditions, culture, architecture, and people. According to the study by Paulauskaite et al., travelers associate authenticity with experiences where they can live like the locals and share their everyday lives. The study also mentions that this type of travel contributes to establishing values such as empathy, tolerance, and cultural exchange.
Living like a local allows us to create direct social relationships and authentic intercultural encounters with the residents. But, what are the reasons to live this type of experience? Here are the reasons to live like a local when traveling:
Reasons to live like a local
Locals as gatekeepers
Locals are proud of their home and want to share it with visitors. Thus, the role of local hosts as information providers, as teachers, as guardians of culture, and as guides are essential. From this perspective, tourism can be seen as a tool to support the local identities of a particular destination.
Staying with a local family
Interaction with local hosts enhances the authenticity of travel experiences. Staying with a local family is a way to meet people, understand how they live, eat local food, and also practice their language.
Travelers can get sensory stimulation from the sights, culinary experiences, and soundscapes. When living like a local, travelers can eat at the local host’s homes, plus the chance to learn how to cook local dishes. So, you can’t miss strolling through local markets for fresh and delicious produce.
Discovering hidden gems
When you live like a local and get off the tourist trail, the chances of stumbling upon hidden gems only locals know about are higher, such as architectural sites, natural spaces, or specific wildlife destinations. The things we find as we explore will remain in our memories.
Knowledge and an immersive cultural experience
Travelers will get destination-specific knowledge during their trip, and their cultural experience will be more prosperous. In addition, they will be able to take part in local festivities and learn first-hand about the customs that make each culture unique. Experiences like this are likely to make travelers more tolerant and open-minded.
Support the local economy
When you choose to stay with locals and eat at local restaurants, you take a big step in supporting their economy. That’s what sustainable and responsible tourism is all about, making sure your benefits go to locals. These trips represent an opportunity to benefit communities.
Co-creation of “live like a local” experiences with Rutopía
The importance of local people in co-creating more authentic destination experiences is key to Rutopía. Through initiatives that ensure that an influx of tourists does not undermine regional cultural aspects. Also, in Rutopia, we connect these communities with travelers interested in knowing a community full of traditions. So, while traveling we can’t miss the options of the gastronomic route through Oaxaca. Another option, for the more adventurous, hiking through the cloud forest. Or we can opt for a delicious cup of coffee in El Triunfo Chiapas or live the Day of the Dead tradition in Patzcuaro, Michoacan.
El Almacén in Oaxaca
In El Almacén, the experience revolves around the pulque and the community’s relationship with the agaves: a sacred plant for the pre-Hispanic cultures. Here we will live a gastronomic experience, as the inhabitants will show us the pulque production process and share their local gastronomy. Moreover, the hosts are the ‘Mujeres Milenarias,’ a group of pulque producers who welcome travelers and share their knowledge about agave and pulque.
Inside a cloud forest
Rutopiatakes us to the community of Acaxochitlán, in Hidalgo, with its Nahua guardians of the surrounding cloud forest. In this experience, we tour the jungle, enjoying beautiful landscapes of vegetation, mountains, and waterfalls. At the same time, we collect edible mushrooms from the region that we will later eat. Another experience is the one in which the women artisans take us to learn about the tradition of embroidery and loom techniques.
Water, birds, and coffee route. El Triunfo, Chiapas
Rutopía takes us to one of the most magical forests globally, the only one where there are still quetzals in Mexico. The reserve is surrounded by a belt of coffee plantations that protects it. Mayan Tzeltal coffee and cacao growing families will welcome travelers. The guides explain the water route, the coffee process, and the life of the communities.
Lake Patzcuaro in Michoacan
With Rutopia, we can meet the Yunuen and Pacanda Islands inhabitants in Pátzcuaro Michoacán and learn about their activities and life on the island. The islands of Patzcuaro are the heart of the Day of the Dead tradition here, and a family will open the doors of their home. During the trip, we will learn about the translation of the ofrendas, how to make sugar skulls, get to know the islands, and take classes in Purépecha.