Opting for public transport, like metros and buses, is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of a new place. Image Credit: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

Travelling is a joy. Putting on your tourist hat and discovering whole new places, cuisines, cultures and landmarks can be exhilarating. But what if you want to shake off the limitations of typical tourism and go a little deeper?

Click start to play today’s Spell It and be inspired to travel like a “local”.

There are some tried and tested ways to leave behind expectations, and enjoy cities just as their residents do, for a more rewarding, enriching experience.

For one, instead of travelling during busy seasons, it’s worth checking out flights for “shoulder season” – the period that’s right before or after the busy season. The weather should be more or less similar to that of the peak season, though less packed with tourists. For instance, according to a travel guide in US-based news website The New York Times, in September, southern Spain is almost as warm and beach-friendly as it is in August, when the region sees a large tourist influx.

Another aspect to consider, especially in Europe, is that many cities or towns act as stops for cruise ships in the summer. So, if you expect to find locals in places like Venice, Barcelona and Santorini during this period, you may just find it packed with other tourists instead. So, timing is everything – it’ll give you the best shot at exploring a destination like a resident, instead of being swept up in the tourist throngs.

Once you’re there, there’s no better way to experience a place than through local transport. According to an October 2019 report by Austria-based online booking engine Tour Radar, using public transportation as much as possible helps you immerse yourself in a place’s culture. Buy a local metro card, and use trains or buses when travelling from one city to another. And when exploring a city, opt to walk as much as you can, rather than hail a taxi or rent a car. Walking tours are a great way to start. The experience may even help you connect with locals and learn about places where you can go for authentic cultural or gastronomical experiences.

Speaking of gastronomy, according to an October 2021 report by France-based television news network Euro News, one surefire way to get a taste of local flavours is to simply get lost. Rather than eat at guidebook-recommended places, walk around markets and areas with street carts or local restaurants, and you may find locals queueing up at favourite spots. Who knows what delicious fare you might stumble upon?

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