Travel is a hugely personal experience. Thanks to the lovely travel blogging community (ever-engaging and expanding) it’s easier than ever to get immersive and authentic insights into far-away places. More than anything, it’s about getting to know the destination: making new friends and embracing the culture with open arms.
There are many ways to do this but one of the most effective is by working with local companies in your country of choice. The ‘buy local’ movement has really grown in the UK over the last few years – we all love supporting small businesses and feeling proud of local independents. They become our go-to places and their owners become our friends.
Locally-sourced travel and experiences isn’t something which has been widely applied to the industry before but there’s a real potential for it. You can work buying local into your travels in a big or small way – from booking a trip with a local company to simply going out of your way to eat at a street food stall or locally-owned restaurant. The benefits are huge, for you and for the people living in your destination.
This is definitely something that applies to buying local no matter where you are. No-one knows a place better than the people who live there and, whether it’s where to get coffee or planning a full trip itinerary, going direct to the people on-the-ground means access to more up-to-date and in-depth knowledge of the local area. When travelling, you can be more confident to adventure away from the average tourist path getting to know the real culture and way of life.
It’s easy to think that buying local, at home or abroad, raises costs. In general though, for the savvy traveller, it can actually save you money and you can make your money go further for much better experiences. For example, local companies will be able to arrange homestays or know which lower cost accommodation is still great value, give good advice on cheaper independent restaurants that are still top quality or know the best local deals for excursions. Plus if you book a trip buying without a lot of middleman work from a travel agent in your country you’ll be able to dodge some hefty costs that they’ll need to pass on through needing to pay their staff.
Making a real connection
Moving away from big faceless companies means real conversations and connections. When you get to personally meet the people behind a business where you’re buying local products and services, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Independent business owners love what they do and love to share it with people. Whether it’s a craft stall at your local market or a teahouse in Vietnam, there is always room for engagement and interaction.
Buying local, and supporting independent businesses, is also (to put it simply) a good thing to do. When you buy local, more of that money stays in the community. Local business owners generally support other local businesses and the local community, they are invested as they live their themselves, so will generally patronise other local establishments for both business and personal reasons as well as contributing to local community projects. Whereas chain businesses, whose decision makers are unlikely to be local, will most likely have corporate suppliers and be focused purely on profit margins rather than improving the local area. Whether that’s your local coffee shop or a Guatemalan tour operator, it’s good to help their companies and local economy flourish and grow. Locally-sourced travel can be a real opportunity to help local economies – especially in far-flung or less developed destinations.
So next time you’re planning a trip away think about trying to work buying local into your travel ideas. You’re money will go further as you’ll get a better experience at similar price points plus you’ll be supporting the local economy which is much more sustainable for tourism in the long run.
TravelLocal, is a Bristol based independent company, working to connect travellers with local experts in their chosen destination. Now in 45 countries, it’s a better, fairer and more authentic way to see the world. Whether you’re buying a trip or buying a coffee, we can all be more mindful of independent options and how to support them.