In Chapter 8 of Patrick McIvor’s series “Have Shears Will Travel, Patrick relishes in his most favorite part of traveling—living locally. After reading this, you’ll know just how to see the city and experience it like a local instead of shuffling about through museums and following a tour guide.
This is my favorite part of traveling, living local. I have had the opportunities to travel like a tourist on air-conditioned coaches/luxury buses “seeing” everything, and I have wandered through neighborhoods, getting lost with my eyes and ears wide open, looking and listening along with smelling and tasting like a local. Sometimes missing what is thought to be extraordinary like tourist stops and museums in exchange to live local, wandering around, seeing what is a new normal, and local to the area I’m visiting and experience is what I’d rather do instead. When I travel, there are a few things I do to make sure I can experience what it is like to live locally. From transportation to food, lodging, shopping and experiences, let’s look at how living local can create great memories and experiences.
My favorite form of transportation no matter where I go starts with me. Walking is my first choice anywhere I go. Having the ability to stop quickly and safely if something catches my eye is something that is not as easy to do on a bike or in a car. Plus, walking lets you notice the little things and take in more of the smells, tastes, sounds and the local “vibes” along the way. If walking is not practical mass transit then subways, trolleys or trains are my next choice and finally when all else is not available, I Uber. But no matter the choice, the choice for me is always the one that gets me closest to the people.
I don’t have the best stomach, and at home I do not eat many types of food, some because of health reasons, some because of personal/social choices and some because I just don’t like it. But when I travel, I eat what “they” are eating. Generally when I travel I am on business and traveling alone, working with local people in the cities or countries I am visiting and because of this, I am often taken to dinner by someone who knows the area and knows the place we will be eating at. Fun street food in Taiwan, Korean delicacies, more veal than I ever could have imagined in Zurich, Switzerland, fish I have never heard of in South Africa, from crocodile to alligator and lots of other local foods. If everyone else was eating it, I tried it! As my mother always said, “One bite is not going to kill you” if everyone else is eating it. And I have been told later this has helped me with different teams because other visitors working with them many times either complained about the food or would be very scared, making the local people feel like something was “wrong” with their food.
As you know my choice for lodging is always Airbnb, but I don’t always like renting the entire place anymore. One of the best ways to have more fun and better experiences is to know a few locals and book a private room with a private bath. It is a great way to stay and find out where to go. On recent trips, I have stayed with a yacht captain in Florida, the entertainment and celebrity marketing director for a popular sneaker company that musicians like to wear, a public relations person for chefs, restaurants and food places and because of each one of them I had many places that I was able to experience only because of their local insight and would have missed it or paid way too much without their guidance.
When it comes to shopping, there are two things I want to experience. First, I want to know where are the hottest spots locals shop, including markets, and second, I want to visit the equivalent of things I know, like visiting an enclosed mall and the “5th Avenue or Madison Avenue” of where I am visiting. For the shopping hot spots, I love things like Camden Town and Portobello Road in London, the night markets in Taiwan, plus street and open markets all over the world. That’s where I like to do most of my shopping. But then I also like to visit the high-end shopping streets of different cities, because no matter the countries, the stores are all usually the same names but the contexts are different. And that’s why visiting an enclosed mall can be so different. The thing about an enclosed mall is the contexts are the same with big sprawling multi-level, multi-winged buildings hosting local, national, and international brands many times, offering their wares for sale side-by-side. What I love about malls is they are like a snapshot of what society is buying right now, there. Wherever there is.
When I travel, I try to have one unique experience everywhere I go. Something I know I want to do when I am there. Sometimes it is something I saw on a TV show, heard about it from a friend who had that experience already, know about it from history or like what happened on a visit to New Zealand, maybe I just saw it on the TV on the plane (which is how I found out you could jump off the New Zealand Sky Tower, something I’ve done twice). Most of the experiences I look to have are things that I can only experience there or things that are not available where I live at home. One of the experiences I am currently working on and collecting is walking across well-known bridges at places I visit, giving me an even more unique local perspective.
After years of running from place to place I have learned that living local is good on so many levels. First, the place you are visiting becomes more real and not just another night in another city. Memories are made and new experiences are had and because of that, the local community grows too as its businesses, restaurants, and its people gain in wealth, making new friends, allowing them to have better lives and new experiences too.
I’ll be back next month with chapter nine, Money Votes.
Photo Courtesy: Patrick McIvor via Instagram @patrickmcivor
Need to catch up? Check out Patrick’s previous chapters:
Chapter 1: Remember, You Are Going Someplace
Chapter 2: Packing Better
Chapter 3: Playing Games
Chapter 4: Reality Wins
Chapter 5: Collaborative Travel
Chapter 6: Importance of Ratings
Chapter 7: Plan Ahead