7 Signs You’re More Local Than Tourist

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It seems that when people go on vacation they can roughly be split down the middle:

1. Those who fully embrace they are a tourist and run with it (camera proudly around the neck and map flapping in the breeze)

2. Those who like to feel like they blend in and can pass for a local (dressed like they’re going to the office with local paper under arm)

But the reality is, the locals can nearly always spot an outsider. Whether it’s your accent, the cut of your clothes, the tone of your skin or just some strange inkling that there’s something not quite up to speed about you, they will pick you out.

Now, this may dishearten the people from category number two, but be disheartened not, because even if they know you’re not local, you can still earn their acceptance. And even you people from category one, if you perhaps travel to the same place a few times, or you stay for a longer time in a certain place, even you might become more assimilated and accepted.

Here are seven signs that you might be becoming more local that tourist…

1. You get asked for directions

Half the battle with being accepted by the locals is to simply know where you’re going and do so with a little purpose. Sure this is hard when you first arrive at a place, but once you begin to get your bearings and get over the novelty of looking up at every  building in awe and wonder, slowly you will start to transform from tourist to local. Except if you’re walking along talking loudly in English on your international cell phone. And then you may find yourself getting asked directions by the newly arrived wide-eyed tourists.

2. You get recognized

It doesn’t take too many trips to the same boulangerie around the corner from your hotel to soon become recognized and warmly greeted by the staff, and perhaps some fellow locals. Go back to the same café and the waiters will serve your table that little bit quicker. Even the old men who sit on bench you pass everyday may even start to give you the nod of acceptance. It’s not that you’re a local, but that the local’s recognize and respect your decision to stick around and be loyal (and perhaps they like your money a bit too).

3. You start getting slightly better prices

One of the great myths of travel is that everywhere you go, there are two prices. One for locals and one for tourists. Well, it can be very true. There can be different prices based not on the fact you are a tourist alone, but also which country you come from. Well, one of the signs of being accepted is when you start getting a few little extras or discounts thrown in. The restaurant may throw in an extra round of digestives on the house; the local shop may waive the fact you didn’t have quite enough change as you thought; the lady at the market may thrown in a few extra tomatoes for your picnic lunch.

4. You have keys to an apartment, not a hotel room

If you stay somewhere and decide to rent an apartment, rather than a hotel, the you immediately rise up the local scale. There is something psychologically game changing about staying in a local apartment that makes you feel more settled and in tune with a place, and this translate to more acceptance. Plus, you may have a ready made stock of locals to say good morning to; your neighbors. That is unless they are all either sick of the clueless tourist always staying and forgetting to lock the entrance door properly, or the rest of your neighbors are tourist renting apartments too!

5. People know your order in advance

If you go to the same restaurant or bar a few times, and you’re not the sort of person to try a different thing every time, then the staff will soon get to know your order and all the formalities of flourishing the menu in front of you, or pointing out the daily specials might disappear. Instead, they will be replaced by a brief nod of recognition, followed by a brief nod to confirm your order, as remembered by the server. No fuss, no fawning, just an inbuilt understanding between you.

6. You stop getting ill from the food and drink

Few things can be more disappointing than going on your week’s vacation, only to spend half of it holed-up in your room because you need easy access to the toilets. It is a fact of life that going to a different country, no matter how developed, it may take your body time to get used to the local ingredients or the mix of chemicals in the water. However, the longer you stay somewhere the more time you’re going to give your body to adjust, and soon you’ll be drinking tap water and eating unwashed fruit with the gusto of the locals.

7. You naturally think to ask for something in the local language

Spending day after day buying groceries in the local language, or simply saying hello, you can soon become habituated to it as it becomes second nature. Even to the point when you end up doing it to your own family or other tourists by accident. However, be careful with this because although it is the correct and proper way to conduct yourself with the locals, doing it with other tourists may make them label you pretentious. You must especially stop once you return back home!

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