This post was last updated on December 3rd, 2013
One of the best parts of being an expat in Taiwan was that it allowed us the opportunity to make local friends and experience the local culture. Unfortunately this can be a difficult thing to do as a tourist; while you might check items off your bucket list or visit the restaurants in your guidebook, it can be tricky to connect on a deeper level in only a short time frame.
Luckily, it’s not impossible to bypass the typical ‘touristy’ experiences for unique, life-changing ones. Enter WithLocals, a global marketplace of locals sharing genuine insight to their home countries and cultures—at a much smaller price than your standard tour. The idea is simple. Those living in the host country know the most about where to go, what to eat, and how to do it. Learn about everyday life while enhancing your own knowledge and skills.
We love the idea behind WithLocals for a few reasons. For starters, as the website claims, everyone is good at something. WithLocals allows people to choose their skill set, whether it be cooking or fruit carving, tour guiding or tuk-tuk driving, and then share those skills with you. But we really love WithLocals because it is supporting sustainable, responsible travel. We truly believe that travel can make the world a better place—but only if travelers continue to support the local economies that actually benefit from tourism. By hiring a local member of the community to cook genuine cuisine, tour off-the-beaten track places, or experience real cultural activities, you can be sure your money is making an impact for the guide’s family and community.
To us, true travel means connecting on an intimate level with the local people. We will always remember our time spent living in Taiwan, largely because of the Taiwanese people who opened their arms and invited us into their country.
WithLocals is kicking off in Asia in September to a limited number of guests and hosts, with plans to expand throughout Asia. Check out their website to learn more about how you can eat withlocals, tour withlocals, and try activities withlocals!