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How to live like a local on your travels
Enjoy life like the locals in Paris
When you head off on a city break abroad, especially a short one, it's difficult to really get a feel for your destination. While you're busy ticking off all those must-see sites, the real charm of a city lies more in the day-to-day way of life enjoyed by the locals.
So to properly get under the skin of your next city jaunt, you need to do a little more of what the locals do.
Here's the LateRooms.com Blog editor, Martin Solly, with some handy hints on how to be down with the natives and get more from your city break experiences...
Do your research
What does a local always have over a tourist? Knowledge; they know their area inside out. So you should get to know your destination a little too. A quality travel guide is a good place to start, but you'll benefit from going beyond this. Search the internet for local blogs, have a read through the Lonely Planet forums, take to social media and find information on the likes of Twitter and Foursquare - you'll soon unearth some local gems.
Head to your destination the same time as everyone else and you'll be just another tourist getting in the way. Head there out of season and not only will you experience a different way of life, you'll find locals will have more time for you and treat you like one of their own.
Learn the lingo
Okay, so getting fluent in the local language might be a bit of an ask, but learn a few key phrases and you'll reap the rewards. Whether it's eavesdropping on a bus, translating the menu in a locals' restaurant or just raising an appreciative smile from whomever you're trying your new-found language skills on, learning a little lingo will help you feel right at home.
Ask the locals
Don't be shy to ask a local about anything you want to know. Try staff at your hotel, a waiter/waitress or even a taxi driver. Most will be more than happy to help. And if you're enquiring about good places to eat or drink, make a subtle change to your question. Instead of "Where would you recommend...?" try "Where do you and your friends go...?"
Try the local cuisine
Step out of your foodie comfort zone and taste the local flavours. Ask the waiter or waitress for their personal recommendations and be brave if you have to. Local dishes are usually better value and better quality, and you could discover a yummy treat not found anywhere else.
Go and explore
It's all too easy to head to the main attractions and take in only what's close by (usually over-priced shops and restaurants.) So head away from the tourist traps, take a deliberate wrong turn, jump on a bus or tram and ride a couple of stops out of town - just go and get lost a little.
Whether you stumble across more authentic (and cheaper) bars and restaurants, independent boutiques, or a secluded spot of scenery - you'll be rewarded for your adventurous spirit!
Choose the right hotel
The Riad Cannelle hotel in Marrakech exudes local style
However hard you try to seamlessly blend into local life, you'll come right back down to tourist-earth with a bump as soon as you step back into your oh-so-stylish but altogether faceless chain hotel that could be in any city in the world.
For more top tips and travel talk from Martin and the LateRooms.com team visit the LateRooms.com Blog. And to experience your next city as a local, find a hotel for your every need at LateRooms.com - the hotel-booking specialist.