The FloQ

Travel Insights Blog

The FloQ

Travel Insights Blog

Three Easy Ways to Travel Like a Local

May 1, 2024

Filip Tomáška

Tips & Tricks


8 min

Feeling out of your element when you visit a new city? Never fear, with these simple tricks, you’ll be traveling like a local in no time. Goodbye tourist traps, hello hidden gems.

Unsplash / Evan Krause

The automatic door opens. You are met by the smells of the city streets, a feisty slap of dust and car fumes mercilessly across your face. Novel, interesting, yet somehow familiar to the one you left behind before boarding your plane. And it’s not only smells! Street signs have different fonts, the ambulance in the distance sounds different. It might be the police for all you know.

Yes, the evidence is overwhelming. You found yourself in a foreign land. Should you panic? Not necessarily (unless you don’t recall traveling there).

You know the famous quote that goes: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”? One could think of its variation in the context of travel as “Getting lost is inevitable, feeling misplaced is optional.”

After all, you are a traveler. Traveling is what you do. Or, if you like (and I do), a “globetrotter,” a weak synonym match for “traveler” according to, but a strong match according to my own subjective preferences. As you’re trotting around the globe, soaking up the local “vibrations” with no time or capital to waste on flops, you’re going to end up a little lost and out of place because, well, that’s what you signed up for. But with a little scheming and strategizing, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can even be a very good thing.

Now, this “guide,” or “list of tips,” assumes that you wish to explore the place you found yourself in. And there are multiple ways to do that! Let’s explore commonly used approaches to navigate the issue at hand.

1. Internet

Likely the first and last resource anyone needs when scouting local food, drinks, hotels or museums. Google provides a comprehensive map overlaid with ratings. You can quickly set your search preferences and sorting by distance, or rating. Easy!

Unsplash / Marvin Meyer

However, what if you are the type of globetrotter who wants the less obvious option, the weaker match? How can you tell which spot is up your alley from a list of ratings from strangers?

Platforms like Google and Yelp poll large pools of both locals and visitors, and as such, will definitely do a decent job at filtering the consistently terrible businesses. But what makes a restaurant 4.7 instead of a 4.6? Will a higher score be automatically better? Does better for Rachel W. automatically translate to better for you?

Maybe we can try a little experiment.

First, think of your favorite local restaurant. Next, search “best restaurants near me.” Does your preference match the online community’s consensus? The outcome might be a useful indicator whether your taste is in sync with whatever the algorithms think is good, or whether you should be squinting your eyes at the 5.0/5 place and think: “Do you have anything weaker?”

There is also more to the internet than ratings on mega-platforms like Google. There are travel blogs (like yours truly), subreddits, Instagram posts, TikTok, the list goes on… all of which can be scraped for tips. Sometimes the obvious choices can lead you astray, especially in a new area.

For example, when looking for a hotel, online ratings on sites such as are a helpful resource. While loyalty to hotel chains work well in the US, sticking to the same ones in Europe could mean missing out on some of those old hotels that were around for the last 200 years and are called something funky — like the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, famous for giving the world the gift of the Sacher torte.

Hotel Sacher in Vienna / Unsplash / aestelle

The key is finding reviewers whose preferences align with yours. We live in a world of hashtags, so they might as well be useful for once! Throw random keywords together, experiment, turn on incognito mode and go all in. There are no wrong answers! I don’t want to flex, but it took me one try to get Elsie’s, my favorite bar in Santa Barbara, pop up as the first link in a no-filter google search.

Screen grabs by author

2. Ask a real human

I know approaching a real local human sounds scary and weird. At least to me. But if done right, it is extremely effective!

First order of business, find a person who is, more or less you, but living in wherever on the globe you are currently trotting. Note: your local version will probably not look exactly like you. What you should share are interests, opinions, passions... Yes, it is true people usually don’t have those written on their faces in an universally understandable language. A useful strategy might be to visit a place where people of your genotype congregate.

Are you into craft beer? Perhaps you could try and ask the staff at the local beer hall for funky places to visit, or events that are worth seeing.

Unsplash / Joshua Rodriguez

Maybe you like working in minimalist coffee shops, noise canceling headphones on, sipping on some latte art. Using google to find the part of town with the highest concentration of cafes and then taking a stroll there, window shopping, finding one that feels right and there you are! Ask away, these are your people! You might as well end up seeing a performance of an underground artist, something you would have never come across otherwise.

When looking for a good hiking route, a shop with hiking gear can be of use, a bike shop for tips on cycling adventures... I think you know what I mean.

3. Embrace stochasticity

Do you remember those chatbots before openAI’s chatGPT? Me neither. Asking the Siris and Alexas for weather updates never felt like a conversation. But this chatGPT thing is different somehow with its creativity and human-like chatting abilities. Large language models sail the internet looking at how people put words together. From this, they can put together sentences of words that have the highest probability to appear next in the given context. It turns out, chatGPT, unlike its robotic-sounding predecessors, deliberately uses words that are not the most probable candidates and rather uses something a little more rare. (Here’s how it works.)

Embracing randomness made chatbots sound more human. Perhaps choosing the less obvious option on purpose may render our travel experience more memorable.

Unsplash / Aayush Gupta

Our work lives are usually constrained within a structure of meetings, nine-to-five days and federal holidays. Perhaps we could try and leave the rigid structure of days starting at 7am and ending at 9pm at home. Have our friend water them along with our plant companions.

Leaving the plan for the trip incomplete to the level that feels acceptable can be perceived as the empty space in luggage dedicated to souvenirs, clothes, or, here, experiences.

Is that tram leaving the stop and you’re not sure whether it’s the line you wanted? Take it anyway! Get off five stops down and figure it down from there!

Or pick a dish without looking at the translated menu entry. Maybe look around and point at anything that speaks to you from another plate.

Oh, and one more pro of leaning into chance: if there’s no plan, it can’t fall apart!

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