I tour with locals by meeting them through the Couchsurfing.com 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.
Tour with Locals
Visit.org – 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!
Couchsurfing.com – 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.
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
Vayando – Connect 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.
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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