Tour with Locals

I tour with locals by meeting them through the website, on a bus, or in a restaurant.  Other times, I stumble upon fascinating places by a chance reading of a sign on a lamppost. However, a tour is a lot less work. I prefer keeping my money within a local community and having a one-on-one experience. These tours look like amazing experiences while supporting local people and organizations.

San Francisco, California


Tour with Locals – Reserve tours, classes, and homestays through local non-profit organizations around the world. I used them to find a day tour at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand near Bangkok. Here’s my post on the adorable baby elephants there. Other include a cooking class with an immigrant in NYC, and a visit to penguin preserve in South Africa. Have a look at whatever country you’ll be visiting next! – This is by far my favorite source for a tour with locals, whether or not I stay in their home. There is no money exchanged, although I typically treat my host to lunch or a drink (if they let me!). Keep in mind, anyone can host, so trust your judgement and meet in a public place. Like Airbnb, you and your host have a profile, and guests and hosts can leave references.

Hosts are regular people, and in my experience are willing to try whatever I have an interest in– music, food, hiking, etc. Need to set up a profile? Start here. Or, read more about daytime hosts here.

Airbnb – Experiences is now offered in many cities. This connects you with locals who give tours of something they know well. I took a fantastic tour in Barcelona, Spain called Learn About Fishing Culture and Markets. It was fascinating learning the history of fishing, which her family has been doing for three generations.

Vayable – Connect with a local tour guide (frequently non-professional tour guides) for city trips, wine tasting, food tours, and lots more around the world. Sometimes prices are quite high, so it is worth comparing other sources. I’ve taken a couple of tours in California, both of which were really fun and showed me places I never would have thought to visit on my own.


Teach English

Greenheart Travel – This non-profit sets up homestays for adults who commit to teaching English to their host family for 15 hours a week. The fee covers costs like insurance and 1-3 month placements, which begin twice a month in 7 countries.


Classes + Lessons

VayandoConnect with local entrepreneurs in Costa Rica and Rwanda. Enjoy a cooking class, meet with a fashion designer in their boutique, or chat with a local fisherman. The websites founders met as Peace Corps Volunteers in El Salvador.

Vacation with an Artist – From Japan to Slovenia and from 4 hours to multi-day experiences, learn art from a local artist.

Vizeat is framing itself as the Airbnb for cooking lessons from locals. Do you want cooking lessons without a full on tour? This might be your answer.


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