When I travel, I want an experience which ends with fond memories, a full belly and a deeper understanding of the local culture.
My preferred way of achieving this is by living among the locals.
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One overlooked option is to arrange a homestay, where you live with locals for the duration of your trip. While this may be enjoyable for many, it’s not exactly my cup of tea. I prefer privacy and want to strike a balance between immersion and my own comfort zone.
Another option is to secure a house sitting opportunity or WOOFing experience, where you exchange your services for free housing. Since these options require some work and typically require more time than the 3-5 days we could offer, we haven’t taken advantage of these immersion options yet (but we’re hoping to in the future).
The final option, and our preferred choice, is to rent an apartment. Having our own apartment helps us feel like we’re locals. On our own terms, we can meet our neighbors, get to know the local markets and pretend that we belong there. Our favorite site to find an apartment is AirBnB, but we have also used VRBO and are always on the lookout for new rental sites to try out.
Below are some pictures of the places we’ve stayed–all of which were cheaper than staying in a hotel:
I highly recommend renting an apartment when traveling to new destination. Between your host, your neighbors and local business owners, you’ll be immersed in the local culture in no time.