Travelling locally doesn’t mean to your local park or pub. It doesn’t mean taking the 159 bus down the road or walking around the block a few times.
Travelling locally means that when you travel, you prioritise the local communities by visiting small, independently run restaurants, accommodation, and activities organised by the local people as opposed to huge chains or multinational companies.
Why travel locally? Because it benefits you. It benefits the population that actually makes the destination you’re visiting so memorable and spectacular. It promotes diversity in the world. And it creates memories through travelling that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
In this blog, we’re going to unpack what local travel actually is. We’re going to set out the benefits it brings local communities all over the world, and explain how, by travelling locally, you don’t just benefit these communities but also enjoy richer, more authentic experiences as you travel.
What does it mean to travel locally?
To make it clear what we mean by local travel, it would be useful to lay out what the absolute antithesis of local travel is to give you a clear idea of what we don’t mean.
Think about a holiday you might book with a major package company to some part of the Mediterranean coast, where your flights, accommodation, food and drink are all paid for in one lump sum to an all-inclusive resort and airline.
When you travel like this your money, every penny of it, is going into the pocket of a multinational company, run by people who don’t even live in the area you are visiting. Of course, some will go indirectly to local people who clean your hotel room, cook your meals and ensure the smooth running of the resort, but it’s realistically a tiny fraction of what should be going to the locals.
This can result in the displacement of locals as rent is driven up by wealthy hotel chains, the dilution of local culture as the region caters for western tastes, and overcrowding as resorts look to pack in as many tourists throughout the year as possible.
Eventually, you can end up with tensions rising between locals, tourists and ex-pats, and drive a wedge between travellers and natives. To us, this is the absolute opposite of what the concept of travel should do. Travel should be bringing people together, introducing individuals to new ways of life and helping to promote empathy in the world.
We believe this truly can be achieved by travel done properly – by travelling locally.
To us, travelling locally is visiting small, family-run restaurants, B&Bs, or simply heading to the places the locals hang out. It’s employing local people from the area to be your guide, or to take you on experiences, so that you can see the most authentic, most compelling side to a destination.
To paint a picture of what this looks like – take that same trip to the Mediterranean coast and examine how you might travel locally there. First of all, your accommodation would certainly not be in a high rise tower block or an all-inclusive resort you wouldn’t expect to leave.
It might be in a B&B, a small boutique hotel, or even with a host family. Immediately you might think it’s difficult to find this type of accommodation or that it might be extremely expensive, and whilst it may be slightly pricier, if you research properly you can absolutely find reasonably priced accommodation that means your money goes into the pockets of small, independent suppliers instead of large hotel chains.
Instead of eating every day in a resort, you would visit local bars and restaurants, run by individuals who actually live in the area and, ideally, have grown up there too. You would try the local food, meet the local people, and experience a way of life unlike your own at home.