The term “Live Like a Local” is often translated to mean ‘experience a destination as if you are a resident.’ It’s good advice, but hard to emulate when you’re only in the destination for a short period of time. One week in an apartment will never compare to being a true resident, no matter how enthusiastic you are in your role as a local.
However, by choosing a holiday rental over a hotel, you are absolutely guaranteed an entirely different holiday experience, every time.
Here are 11 reasons we think you should give local living a try:
1. You’re an independent traveller
You want to find your own way, do your own thing, have no one to answer to, no porter to wake on return from a midnight sojourn. You can come and go as you please. You don’t have to leave the key at the reception, and no one holds on to your passport for security but you.
No, there’s just you, with your own decisions and your own key.
You are free to do what you want, when you want. Sounds liberating, doesn’t it?
2. You’re curious
Maybe you’ve heard of this local living malarkey before and wondered what it was like. You normally like the comfort and security of staying at a hotel, but there’s a little curious bird inside you that wants to escape the confines of the cage and venture out into the big open world.
It may be daunting if it’s your first time – like all first times – but like many experiences you may feel a little apprehensive about, you’ll be surprised how easy and effortless the process can be.
Sate your curiosity, and try it!
3. It’s cheaper, generally
Renting an apartment or room for a week is undoubtedly cheaper than paying for a hotel in some countries. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and as holiday rentals are becoming more popular some unscrupulous people are out to get top dollar for their homes.
Avoid the main touristy areas and search for something a little further out of the centre if you’re travelling on a strict budget.
4. You’ll save on your food and drinks bill
Who doesn’t love to order from room service when staying in a hotel? It’s the rules, isn’t it? And don’t get me started on resident bars – they’re like beacons for the thirsty on a wet, windy night to the average hotel resident.
Living in an apartment does wonders for your purse strings when on holiday. There is no room service or mini bar to tempt the weak-willed traveller, like myself.
Keep your costs down by buying a few essential grocery items so you don’t have to eat out for every meal, and visit the local liquor store to stock up on liquid essentials, should you be that way inclined.
Look out for the wine shops in Europe that do in-store wine refills if you take along an empty bottle. Yes, Europe is that good.
5. You will experience the destination differently
Many hotels are based in and around the main areas of a town or city. It means your wandering circle is often limited, purely because everything is on your doorstep; there’s little need to venture too far from your hotel.
By booking a rental away from the main hotspots, you’ll discover a whole new side to a destination. Of course, you can book rentals in the centre too, but you’ll feel more adventurous because you’re taking control of your own holiday experience.
Just remember the sage advice: do what the locals do, shop where they shop, eat where they eat, then you’ll have more of a grasp how they really live.
6. It makes you more confident
If you’re one of those people who likes to do things the way you’ve always done them, I urge you to try something new.
On your next holiday, don’t book a hotel. Don’t go for the safe bet. Rock the boat. Stay in an apartment instead.
The feeling of empowerment you get when arranging your own holiday will make you a more confident traveller. Unless you book a place that even the locals avoid. Don’t do that!
Remember to always thoroughly research your destination before booking anything.
7. It’s perfect when travelling with kids
Any parent will tell you, luxury hotel living will never be the same once kids come on the scene. Even little angels who rarely cause trouble will go crazy being confined in one room with the rest of the family after a certain length of time.
There are only so many walks and parks to keep them occupied once you’ve visited all the child-friendly attractions.
Soon everybody crumbles. Whole families burst into tears in unison after just a few days of cramped hotel living. Apartment living is without doubt the way to go.
Space can make or break a holiday, so why risk it?
8. It is less noisy. Usually.
If you’ve ever been ‘lucky’ enough to land a hotel room by the lift/stairwell, you’ll understand the importance of finding a quiet place to stay. Listening to the door slamming or ‘helpful’ lift voiceover is never conducive to a happy holiday.
By staying in a holiday rental you generally cut out all the annoying noises of hotel living, especially if you hire a cottage or lodge in the middle of the forest.
I would argue my own point by saying, holiday rentals are not always perfect. Some central apartments in European city centres are shockingly noisy as they often have a shared lightwell. Sound carries up, so unless you want to hear everyone else’s television and conversations late into the night, take steps to ensure what you’re booking is quiet.
9. You get to meet the neighbours
Hopefully, your first meeting is not when you complain about their noisy television. Many neighbours know when a nearby flat is rented. Some keep their distance, with quiet nods of acceptance or dismissal, while others wait patiently for your pending arrival hoping to show you around their ‘hood.
Ask them where they think you should go rather than relying on guide books, and find out some of the destination’s secret spots. Their experience is something you’ll never find at a tourism information centre.
10. You get to practice your language skills
Of course, you can let your language skills loose at any time, regardless where you’re staying, but long-term rentals will allow you to hone your language skills. And no matter where you travel, locals are delighted when someone speaks to them in their own language.
Some English-speakers take it for granted that everyone else can speak English, and yes, we’re often totally shamed by multi-lingual speakers in many parts of the world, but it’s good to try at least a few words of the country you’re visiting.
Never be afraid to practice with your neighbours or at the grocery store. You may not speak perfectly, but they’ll love you for trying and often cut you some slack.
11. It’s a great way to test the waters for ‘real’ local living
While you may not be a true local when renting an apartment, holidaying this way allows you to observe more closely what life could be like should you decide to move to your favourite destination.
Try a new area each time, investigate how easy it is to get employment and see how they interact with newbies.
These trial rentals may sway the final decision on where you chose to live long-term, or may even change your mind about the destination completely.
Living like a local is another one of those confusing travel terms that means different things to different people, so it’s hard to define. And while it suits some people and their lifestyle perfectly, it may not suit others.
Whether living like a local is right for you is up to you to decide.
In my experience, I find it hard to travel any other way now, and the choice is expanding in terms of what’s on offer all the time. Home owners are waking up to the fact that people do want to experience a little of their lifestyle and their locale so are providing more accommodation options.
If the idea of living local is in line with your travel philosophy and suits your circumstances, you should try it! Once you’ve given it a go, you’ll never look back.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by HomeAway, who connect homeowners with travellers seeking an alternative to hotels. They have more than 570,000 properties on their books across 139 countries, and offer some exciting eco-friendly rentals. Ecolodges, treehouses, gites, yurts and beachfront villas are just a few of the different accommodation options available.