Meet the locals tour company

Old Apr 11th, 2021, 01:45 PM
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Meet the locals tour company

My granddaughter is interested in doing some travel,, although itíll be a few years from now. Perhaps at age 18. She is interested in a tour where she can meet locals something through tour company not going to the local bar on her own. Most interested in experiencing the local culture, eating with locals maybe even staying with locals. Any suggestions? Thinking something like this exists but havenít found anything yet.
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Old Apr 11th, 2021, 03:15 PM
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I don't know of specific companies (I'm sure other Fodorites will have ideas/recommendations) - but one place to look would be small group, land-only tours marketed in the countries/regions that interest her. That way most members of the group will be locals, or at least from nearby areas. Not 'home stays' though.

Or maybe there is something here that fits the idea (Disclaimer - no personal experience) https://www.responsiblevacation.com/vacations/homestays

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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 02:51 AM
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I think the best way to get to know some local people is to stay longer at each place. Travelling solo also helps. I found that I had some wonderful chats with local people at the places where I was staying mainly because I was on my own and I stayed longer than their other guests. Going to places that fewer tourists visit also helps. I remember reading a book by one person who lived internationally and she said that her first 'task' whenever she first came to live in a new place was to find her new favourite local bar/cafe and visit there almost every day. I'd say it's almost impossible to get to know local people if you're moving on frequently.

If she is eligible for the right visas, she could perhaps looking into wwoofing or other volunteering opportunities. Enrolling as a student in a course where local students attend might also work.

Some tour companies offer a night staying with a local family but it's generally only for a night or two and I suspect it's a pretty commercial arrangement. Still, much nicer than an international style hotel.

One thing I like to do in any new town is take a walking tour (if there is one) with the local tourism office. I'm not going to meet locals other than the tour guide but I find I learn something about the place from a local's perspective.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 04:11 AM
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Thanks for the comments and information. I have found a few sites where you can get in touch with locals meet up and spend the day. Usually with some common interest. Of course traveling on one’s own offers the best opportunities but I do worry about an eighteen year old doing so. A bit different if one is older. Maybe I’m wrong but feel that traveling through places like Cambodia, Thailand, any place in Southeast Asia as a young girl doing so by herself is probably not the wisest move. That’s why I was thinking she could meet up with a tour company..

I do like the idea of volunteering. Some years ago I remember there was an opportunity to do volunteer work in France restoring historic sites. You spent several weeks with the group which would include locals as well as those from a number of other countries.Something along this line would be perfect. Will look into it.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 05:11 AM
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Has she considered a study abroad program?

I wouldn't worry too much about her age. A lot of European kids take off for a gap year between school and uni. Lonely Planet's thorntree forums are in read-only mode since the pandemic started, but there should still be useful info in the gap year and RTW forum:

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntr...e-world-travel
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 08:44 AM
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The study abroad might prove to be a good option. I am aware of such a program in Spain where the students live with a family while studying Spanish. That would certainly give her the kind of exposure to the culture she desires. She doesn’t want to stay at the usual tourist hotels, get on a bus to see the sights and have a dozen Americans on the tour with her.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 09:07 AM
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I believe a number of US schools and universities run such programs. No reason she shouldn't get credit.

This looks like a good place for her to start: https://studyabroad.state.gov/

If she wants a different kind of tour she could look at Intrepid and G Adventures.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 09:32 AM
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There are some tours like that, at least a day tour in a particular city. Of course these are not really "authentic" at all, they are tourist experiences as people are getting paid to meet these tourists and let them into their homes. I'm not sure that is even really what you are talking about. If you are just talking about a tour that includes optional excursions that may be taking you to a local bar and picking you up -- I don't know. I've been on some group tours and really liked them, but all the planned excursions to a local restaurant, you were with the group and it was some group dinner with maybe a planned folk entertainment. Now theree are not authentic, either, but I still enjoyed them (one was in Greece, where they had some floor show with Greek folk dancers). It wasn't really too different from going to some of those flamenco shows in Seville, for example.

Ifr she just wants to go to a bar, but not alone, she would probably meet some compatible people on a tour for her to do that so she wouldn't have to worry about being out on the town late at night alone (which I agree is not the best idea, although wouldn't be too dangerous if it were a bar very near her hotel in a busy area).

Staying with locals isn't really a tour thing. That's a DIY trip, you can do that on Couchsurfing and sites like that. She may be romaticizing that idea and not appreciative of possible difficulties (language would be a big one, as well as realizing these people are only doing it for money if they were being paid, a lot of people have some romantic idea of people spending lots of time and trouble on tourists, which they won't -- would you?).

For just a trip, she'd have to basically DIY, booking hostels (where you won't meet total locals, but you could meet young people from other parts of the country or nearby country), and look for online stuff on www.meetup.com or something. Or check out Couchsurfing. As far as ethics go, you are not supposed to use that unless you agree to host people, also.

Other than staying with locals, anyone can eat with locals or experience the local culture when they travel if they don't just restrict themselves to American chain restaurants and the most dense tourist areas of a city. In fact, lots of locals do eat at Starbucks and McDonalds in Europe, though.

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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 02:04 PM
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Studying at a university and staying with a local family could be great. Many of the kids in our community did student exchanges while at high school. School exchanges can offer the opportunity to learn in another language and live with a family in a safe environment.

It might be good for her to be clear about what it is she's seeking. Is it a desire to see something of the world while not being part of a tour group of people just like her? Or is it a desire to learn something from people of a different culture? If the latter, she could get involved with migrant groups in her home country (e.g. provide support for new immigrants, teach English). I think it's fantastic that she wants something beyond being on a tour with people who are just like her. I suspect that so many people travel overseas and never have a conversation with anyone outside of their own group.

Also, what is 'local'? If she stays in a hostel in Italy and meets Swedes, Brits, Spaniards and South Koreans, how does that measure?

Getting to know people reaches it's limits very quickly if there isn't a shared language so in the meantime I suggest she learn another language (or two). Even if poorly spoken, a common language can open conversations. I remember once having a great evening in Turkey with a couple of local guys where our shared (and very sketchy) language was Spanish.

Lastly, I recall there being a network of women who host other women internationally (onene) but can't remember the name. You might be able to search for it.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 02:05 PM
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I have no idea why the website has stuck an emoji in my post.
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Old Apr 13th, 2021, 02:42 PM
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Can't say I've heard of too many tour companies like that, but it sounds like a great idea. I'm always more interested to get to know the locals and what they like rather than just doing the tourist thing.
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Old Apr 13th, 2021, 06:23 PM
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Yes, I was a bit surprised I couldnít find a tour company that offered what I would refer to as getting to know the locals (as a long time traveler I do see how this could be difficult) I guess it needs to involve activities such as cooking, language courses, studying something such as art, doing volunteer work and most importantly just be willing to interact and seek out any chance to talk with or help the locals.
I mentioned study abroad courses especially language course where she could stay with a family. I do know these exist.She is only 15 so has a few years to figure out exactly what she wants to do. She is just very eager to explore a number of places and interact with people, learn about their culture and how they live.
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Much appreciated.

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Old Apr 13th, 2021, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
I have no idea why the website has stuck an emoji in my post.

Apparently you used a : adjacent to a letter? That will usually result in an emoji of some sort. I reproduced it here one ne.

That was typed 'one : one' w/o a space between the : and the o

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Old Apr 13th, 2021, 09:10 PM
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Yes, I was a bit surprised I couldn’t find a tour company that offered what I would refer to as getting to know the locals
Probably "the locals" aren't keen on feeling like zoo animals.
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Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:12 AM
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Yes, and that’s the problem although who can blame them. I have read posts where people ask much the same questions about meeting locals but locals gathered at a pub want to talk with their buddies not some stranger. Makes perfect sense.
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Old Apr 14th, 2021, 05:36 AM
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One or two people might be a matter of interest, or at least be acknowledged, the problem is an invasion of 12, or 24, or 36.

I occasionally take a tour, and sometimes one includes a visit to a school or someone's house. I have always found the school visits particularly problematic, I would have hated them when I was a kid. I remember a young boy outside a school in Bulgaria with an expression that mirrored how I think I would have felt. And the less said about the OAT tour to Thailand that I mistakenly took when I started traveling to Asia, and that told us to take candy on a visit to a Lao village, the better.
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Old Apr 14th, 2021, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
. . . Lastly, I recall there being a network of women who host other women internationally (one/one) but can't remember the name. You might be able to search for it.
Women Welcome Women Worldwide, aka 5W. Longtime member here, great organization.

https://www.womenwelcomewomen.uk/article/home.aspx

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Old Apr 15th, 2021, 01:58 PM
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I am familiar with the above organization.
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Old Apr 15th, 2021, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by historytraveler View Post
I am familiar with the above organization.
After I posted the 5W information I realized that, tho there's no reason she couldn't join, your granddaughter would likely enjoy a group more that's not populated for the most part by mother & grandmother substitutes.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 01:39 PM
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Not a tour, but EatWith is a chance to eat with locals -
https://www.eatwith.com/
And here's an article about similar experiences -
https://www.adifferentkindoftravel.c...t-connect-you/
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