Podcast: Is it Really Possible to Travel Like a Local?

In our third episode of “Unpacked by AFAR,” tips on how to be a better observer, and how embracing our “outsider” status can help us travel better—and empathize more.

Podcast: Is it Really Possible to Travel Like a Local?

In our latest episode of “Unpacked by AFAR,” we ask: Is it really possible to travel like a local?

Illustration by María Hergueta

In our new podcast, Unpacked by AFAR, we explore the world of ethical travel in a friendly, accessible—and dare we say—fun way. Every other Thursday join us as we answer your ethical conundrums from how to engage with animal tourism (“I know I shouldn’t ride an elephant, but can I swim with dolphins?”) to travel that doesn’t harm the Earth (“What is zero-waste travel—and is it even possible?”). Here’s the transcript from our July 14 episode.

Listen now. And be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

AISLYN GREENE, HOST: This is Unpacked. I’m Aislyn Greene, a deputy editor here at AFAR, and today we are digging into what might seem like a very benign topic: Is it really possible to travel like a local?

Now, you might be wondering, if this is such a benign subject, why talk about it at all? That’s a great question, one I have asked myself, even as I’ve been reporting this story. Here’s the context. I’ve worked at AFAR for eight years. And for much of that time I’ve been steeped in this idea that we should try to travel like a local as much as possible. Sounds good, right? I had a general notion of what this meant to me and pretty much believed in it. I still do, to an extent.

But about a year into the pandemic, in that first optimistic wave about travel’s recovery, author Eric Weiner wrote an essay for AFAR that poked a hole in that belief. Eric is the author of several books, including the Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers. And Eric’s essay for us was about how we could make travel more of a force for good as we emerged from the pandemic. In that essay, he said this. (Before you applaud my vocal range, yes this is actually Eric reading):

ERIC WEINER: When we travel, we usually expand ourselves, not by turning inward, but by interacting with other people. Do we see only differences, language, cuisine, customs, or do we also identify commonalities, or shared humanity? This is empathy. If we don’t empathize at least a little with those we encounter, we never really see them. Empathizing with other people doesn’t mean becoming them. I know it’s fashionable to brag that you travel like a local. No, you don’t. You travel like a foreigner. That’s because you are one, and that’s OK. The empathetic traveler doesn’t try to fit in. She knows that it’s impossible and that there are advantages to seeing places at an angle. One of the best books about American democracy was written by a Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville. This is no coincidence. An observant outsider often sees what insiders do not.

AISLYN: I was taken by this idea, of the impossibility of actually traveling like a local. It got me thinking: What do we really mean when we say we want to travel like a local? What are we aiming for, and what do we lose if we don’t explore and maybe even challenge that idea? So in this episode, we’re going to do that. We’ll hear more from Eric, and from a couple of other writers and researchers. We’ll share tips on how to better connect in a new place, how to embrace our outsider status, and basically how asking ourselves these big questions can make our trips more fulfilling, and make us better guests in the world. But first, what exactly does this concept mean?

JINI REDDY: The phrase “traveling like a local,” what does that mean? It means maybe staying in locally-owned accommodation, taking public transport, buying food from markets. I think it tends to suggest that you’re traveling independently. I think backpackers can sometimes feel that they have a monopoly on traveling authentically because they’re doing it in a low-budget way. But I don’t think that’s necessarily how the locals do it. Some locals don’t, for example, take public transport, they own cars, they live quite middle-class lives. Some locals are impoverished; eating very basic food is not a lifestyle choice. So I think “local” can be interpreted in many ways.

AISLYN: That’s Jini Reddy, a London-based author and journalist, whose most recent book, Wanderland, was shortlisted for a number of awards. Jini is extremely well traveled. She’s been to more than 60 countries and always searches for a deep connection with the places and people she meets. Jini went on to say that for many of us, when we say we want to travel like a local, the goal is to be a more conscious traveler. And I think she’s right—there are good intentions behind it. Before we explore that more, we have to face the travel elephant in the room. It might even be what inspired the whole travel like a local thing: The tourist versus traveler dilemma. Because, let’s face it, the word “tourist” can have negative connotations. Eric Weiner sees this as a kind of “reverse travel snobbery.”

ERIC: It’s really a reaction to being labeled a tourist, right? Nobody wants to be called a tourist. Everyone thinks of themselves as a traveler. The other person, they’re the tourists, I’m a traveler. It’s like those studies where a majority of people believe they are an above-average driver, which is statistically impossible. Somebody has to be the below-average traveler. Somebody has to be the tourist. It made me think why this desire to travel like a local and to go through all this expense and trouble to travel, and then pretend like you were just born there, and have been living there all your life, that struck me as kind of silly.

AISLYN: Eric went on to say that, at least for American travelers, this impulse stems from the image of the quote unquote ugly American abroad. You know, someone who travels far from home but wants things to feel like home? Now that’s quite a stereotype, and of course, it’s not always true. But it makes sense that some travelers would see that and want an alternate path.

And so, along came the idea of traveling like a local: the antidote to the stereotypical tourist. And it’s not all bad! There are many benefits to exploring off the beaten path. We’re more likely to support grassroots businesses and locally owned ventures. We may be giving back to communities in some way, or it may inspire us to pick up DuoLingo and learn the language before we go. But ultimately, it’s an impossible task.

ANU TARANATH: It sure would be nice if we were able to travel like a local, because then we could rid ourselves of the anxieties of not being a local. [laughter] The thing though, is that no matter how much I want to travel like a local, I’m not a local. Wouldn’t it be better for us to actually just embrace the fact that we are not locals and rather than want to travel like a local why don’t I travel like a better traveler? That to me seems more compelling.

AISLYN: That’s Dr. Anu Taranath, a Seattle-based educator and author of the book, Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World. She’s also one of the writers of the Unpacked column that accompanies this podcast. (We’ll share links in the show notes.) Dr. Anu is also a speaker and consultant and works deeply around issues of racial equity, gender, identity, and more. She went on to remind us this goal is also impossible, because, of course, there’s no such thing as one type of local.

ANU: It’s quite nuanced because let’s also remember that there are a variety of locals in any locality, and some are like tourists, thoughtful about the garbage they produce, about the footprint that they offer the Earth, about the relationships that they cultivate with people. There are also locals who are less interested in doing that and are just trying to accumulate and be greedy. [laughs] Lots of people all over the world. This idealization of the local perspective, that needs to be nuanced in some ways, right? All tourists aren’t painted from the same brush. All locals are not painted from the same brush. Humans are complex, we’re contradictory. We’re wonderful. We’re flawed. We are all of these things. This putting on a pedestal of the local, again, good intention, well-intentioned, I see why we do that. I’m not sure that it accurately holds together all the stories that any locality might offer.

AISLYN: It’s important to ask ourselves: What do we mean by local, and is our local, their local? This is often an issue of perception. And perception has a lot to do with our own socioeconomic backgrounds, and the socioeconomic backgrounds of the people we’re encountering. In addition, there are often racial and identity realities at play—not everyone is welcomed the same way around the world. Jini explains.

JINI: I think the whole issue of identity really plays into how we experience a place when we go abroad. I think it’s really fascinating. I think it depends on the specific dynamics between yourself and your upbringing and who you are and what you identify as, and the particular country or culture that you’re visiting. For example, you can’t blend in as easily if you’re surrounded by white people and you’re a person of color, and then you can feel hyper-visible. I think you’re more likely to be pegged as an outsider, and it also impacts maybe on how other white travelers might respond to you. In some cultures, white skin is prized and if you’re the tourist with the brown skin, you’re less interesting. Therefore there’s less curiosity about you and people might not want to know you in quite the same way. In certain countries, you might have to deal with racism, even if it’s not overt, you might sense the hostility. There are upsides too, because I’ve found when I’ve had opportunities to meet people from Indigenous cultures, for example, people who still live in traditional ways or close to the land, there’s often been more of a feeling of a bond because there’s no whiff of colonialism, however distant, about me.

AISLYN: Jini also said she’s found this to be true as a woman, that it’s often easier to connect with other women. She shared a great story about a day in a beauty salon that opened a door to an aspect of culture she likely wouldn’t have seen if she hadn’t gone.

JINI: I remember once going to Iran and having the most fantastic time, a fascinating time, in an Iranian beauty salon. Because the women on the outside were wearing the hijab, but in the salon, they were wearing mini skirts and tight little tops and lots of makeup. They gave me a makeover, which is incredible. The questions were the kind of questions you’d ask your girlfriends wherever you were in the world, “What are the men like, where you are? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have kids? What’s your life like?” There are upsides. I just think it’s such a nuanced and complex thing, it’s very easy to paint this with a broad brushstroke, but you can’t really.

AISLYN: Dr. Anu agrees. During our conversation, I had shared my own journeys as a queer traveler navigating the world—sometimes I was more “out” than other times. Sometimes people would assume that my spouse is male and if I felt at all uncomfortable, I might let them go on thinking that. But not everyone has that luxury.

ANU: If we have the notion that the typical American traveler is middle-class, upper-middle-class, white, educated in particular ways, and has resources, I come along and I look somewhat different from that norm of the American traveler. If the American traveler is assumed to be straight, you come along and might look or seem different from that American traveler. There are some parts of ourselves that can’t be hidden. I can’t not be brown where I go places—I am all the time. Someone’s queerness may or may not be visible on their bodies in the same ways and so which identities are choices for us to share with others and which identities are not choices. All of these swirls around that conversation about who we are at home, who we are abroad? I’d love to be able to share with you or anyone that all of you is welcome everywhere. Of course, that’s not the world that we live in. It’s not true at home for too many of us, and it’s not true for many us when we’re traveling.

This is why I think, for me, not wanting to be a local, but to just notice what locals do helps me really think about issues of travel and power and hierarchy and identity and who we are and who we aren’t in different contexts. I can’t make all the hierarchies go away. I can be mindful of how they play out. I can try to keep myself as safe as I can and I can try to get to know people even if I might not like something that they’re doing or thinking or in a way that doesn’t quite work with my values. I’m still in their space. How do I do that well?

AISLYN: How do I do that well? That’s the real question, isn’t it? So let’s explore the ways. First, we must embrace discomfort. Because the truth is that travel can be disorienting and unfamiliar at times, and that’s often the glory of it. Eric shared his view on new experiences while traveling. He likes to as he says “embrace the weirdness.” But weird in this case isn’t a judgment. It’s a tool that allows him to acknowledge that something is unfamiliar to him, without rejecting it—and using that discomfort to provoke curiosity. He shared a story about trying a new-to-him food in Iceland. For those of you who have been to Iceland, you might know what’s coming.

ERIC: I went to a local market and I was told by someone in the hotel that I had to try the hákarl and I’m like, “OK, I have to find a hákarl booth to get some hákarl.” Well, hákarl is rotten shark meat that’s been stewing for a long time, growing rotten, and it tastes pretty much exactly the way you would expect rotten shark meat to taste. I had to be honest, it just tasted awful to me. My approach in those situations is twofold. One is to embrace the weirdness. Like, this is weird, I’m eating rotten shark meat and I’m not going to pretend otherwise, but—and the but is key to this formula is—but what do they get out of it? Where did this come from? Well, in this case, it turns out that it’s an ancient tradition that they had, it was feast or famine in Iceland. They had long periods of time historically, where there was no food. They fermented the shark meat for long periods of time and it kept well enough that they could eat it and they developed a taste for it.

AISLYN: Eric says you can apply that formula to many situations. In his mind, the problem comes when we skip that first step, the “this is unfamiliar to me step” and go right to acceptance because we’re trying to be nice. He’s not suggesting we be rude, or derogatory, but rather that we be honest that, “Hey, this a little unusual for me, can you tell me more about why you like it so much? What’s the history?” Use those moments of discomfort to provoke curiosity.

ERIC: I find it more honest to go there—I’m an American, I was born in America. I see the world through American eyes, but I’m willing to change my prescription on my glasses, to put it that way. Henry Miller once said that when it came to travel, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” You could only have that transformation if you acknowledge that you saw things this other way, in the first place.

AISLYN: This is one of the reasons we travel, right? To help, as Eric says, change the prescription in our glasses and appreciate our differences. Dr. Anu elaborates.

ANU: Travel can help us appreciate differences better because it often puts us in difference whether we want to be or not. When we are in our so-called regular lives, we are in a routine, we are in familiarity, we are often not always but we are probably more often in comfort than we are in discomfort. I’m speaking in broad strokes, of course, everyone’s stories won’t fit exactly what I’m just sharing. When we travel, we are knowingly putting ourselves somewhere else. That knowingly putting ourselves elsewhere opens some curiosity up, not always, but that’s the hope. That it can open us up to notice more, to slow down more, to exit our usual routine and think about something else, and to be able to move our minds on a different track.

AISLYN: This means embracing our status as an outsider. There are advantages to seeing a place with fresh eyes. Eric shares an example using a very famous French political scientist.

ERIC: Alexis de Tocqueville was the quintessential observant outsider, we’ll call him. He was a Frenchman who came to America in the 19th century, the mid-1800s. He was a traveler, but he’s an outsider, spoke English, but he was not an American, and he traveled all over the states. He went upstate in New York. I believe he went down to the deep south, went pretty much as far as you can go in those days. He did travel like a local in that he went to town hall meetings and did things like that. Tourism wasn’t quite the industry it is today at all back then, but he did really immerse himself into American life. Then he wrote an amazing book called Democracy in America. To this day, it is I think the best book about democracy in America. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best book on American democracy was written by a non-American.

AISLYN: Why is that? Well, Eric says it’s like we’re all goldfish in individual fishbowls.

ERIC: You’re in the Aislyn fishbowl and I’m in the Eric fishbowl, but we’re both in a bigger fishbowl called America, and we don’t even know they’re fishbowls because it’s just—we know our own experiences, we only know our fishbowl until we get out of it and we hop into another bowl. That’s what de Tocqueville did, he hopped into a different fishbowl and could see it more clearly than the fish that were already there. I think that you can be too close to a place and a culture and not be able to see it clearly. As an outsider, I would say an informed outsider like de Tocqueville and an observant open-minded outsider like de Tocqueville, you can see things that others don’t.

AISLYN: Eric continued on to say that travel can also help us see our home town or city more clearly, once we return. I think many of us have had that experience, where we return home and we can just see things with a fresh perspective.

One of my favorite examples of that took place in the Miami airport, following a two-week trip in Cuba. During the trip, my wife and I had carried toilet paper with us wherever we went, because there was just never any guarantee that we’d find some when we needed it. On the flight home, there was a large group of American teenagers who had also spent several weeks on the island. In the airport, after we landed in Miami, I wound up in the bathroom at the same time as many of the teenage girls on our flight. They were freaking out about the abundance of toilet paper, in contrast to what they experienced in Cuba. I remember thinking what a gift: to have that experience at such a young age, one that seemed to help them appreciate what they had at home. I shared that story with Eric. He laughed and told me about the thing he always notices when he comes home from a trip.

ERIC: The abundance of America and then the proliferation of choices in the supermarket, breakfast cereal, for instance, whether it’s good or bad, it always strikes—that’s usually the one thing that strikes me when I come back, go into a supermarket and doesn’t even have to be a fancy one and you’re like, oh my God, we have so much stuff. So many choices at least of breakfast cereal, but the thing, the funny thing then is, then I’m home for a few weeks and I go back to the supermarket and I don’t see—it doesn’t strike me as odd anymore that there are 57 choices of breakfast cereal in my local supermarket, just like it becomes normal. And I see my job as a travel writer as twofold, to try to make the strange familiar, and to make the familiar strange.

AISLYN: I love that idea. It encourages us to keep our eyes open when we’re traveling. And to keep them open as long as possible when we get back home.

Dr. Anu has some great advice about how she likes to observe while traveling.

ANU: Rather than try to travel like a local when I am traveling, I watch the locals. I watch locals closely and carefully and with friendliness in my eyes. I do it less out of judgment and more just to understand how culture works, how gender works, how age and generational difference works, how people talk to one another, how people gesture at one another. These are the things that a local knows without anyone teaching us. This is what we learn being part of a culture and a community and a people. As outsider, these are the very things that I’m curious to learn more about, less to have some mastery over it after my two days or three days or two months in a location, but more to stretch my sense of how humans work in different parts of the world. Some of what I see, I try to emulate and some of what I see, I file away in my head as knowledge, anthropological knowledge of how we work as humans.

AISLYN: She also has some advice for those of us who want to build some muscle around this. It starts with being honest about how distracted many of us are in our daily lives, and trying to slow down and just watch more when we’re someplace new.

ANU: I think we go through our lives in such a hurry that sometimes we’re not even sure what to notice and what not to notice. If you are traveling and perhaps even if you’re not traveling if you’re just in your so-called regular life, take some time to notice, who’s around? How are they dressed? Do they look like you? Are the languages that are being spoken the one that you speak most often? What does signage look like? How are people relating to one another? What is verbal? What is nonverbal? These are incredible cues to understand, not just culture but to understand our similarities and differences.

I would say related to that is not only noticing externally what’s happening in the community and in the people that you’re watching and interacting with but also digging inside ourselves and thinking, how does that make me feel? What’s coming up for me? Am I awash in discomfort? Am I awash in nervousness? Do I find myself shrinking back? Do I find myself leaning in? These are really critical self-reflective questions that help us tune into ourselves and our emotions in a really emotionally intelligent way.

AISLYN: Dr. Anu says that it can be helpful to be aware of and to tone down our privilege as travelers, depending on where we go. This doesn’t mean trying to be someone we’re not, as she explains.

ANU: I can’t ever pretend to not be who I am and where I’m from. I can, however, like I say, in that article dial down the ways that privilege is displayed on my body, and I can try to dial up the ways that friendliness or my receptivity to connecting might be present for me. If I am to be a guest in their community for two days, two months, I’d like to be a good guest.

What does dialing down the fact that I come from an exorbitantly rich country, what does dialing down the fact that I have more than many people in the world look like? It doesn’t mean trying to pretend that that’s not there, but it does mean being sensitive to how these things show up and play out when we are elsewhere. When I am stepping through a less resourced community with my sly handbag, or some hi-fi backpack or some really expensive branded shoes. I’m stepping in saying something. What I’m saying is I have, I have, I have. I’d like to actually step into that community or any community less by saying I have and more by saying, “Hello, hello, hello.” Those are really different messages right?

AISLYN: For Dr. Anu, toning down privilege might be as straightforward as not carrying a fancy water bottle, or putting away the elaborate shoes or smartwatch and opting for a simpler version. In a way, it’s about setting aside our worldview for a moment. How do we do that? Well, Jini has some ideas:

JINI: I try to find common ground with people if I’m talking to them, try to listen more and talk less. I try to be sensitive to cultural mores, to customs. I always try to smile and to be gracious and to look people in the eye. I think that’s really important, those small things. I think if you’re genuinely interested in people that they’ll sense it.

I don’t seek to impose my worldview. People might have beliefs that are widely divergent from your own, and you’re not there to pick a fight. You’re there to learn and to experience and to witness. You come away with all this information and then you can decide what you do with it.

AISLYN: For Jini, the goal is to be as open and nonjudgmental as possible. Sometimes this means opening up on a more energetic level.

JINI: I always find what works best is to just be gentle and go with a good energy. Go with a good energy and be open and gentle, and people really respond to that, I find anyway. [chuckles] It’s different for different people but that’s what works for me. I remember going to Colombia once and going to a museum and I was assigned a guide. I was just trying to get on her wavelength, I guess. Then she turned to me and she said, “Oh, you’re a very sensitive person.” I really liked that. I was really touched by that. That she acknowledged that, that I was trying to make a connection.

AISLYN: Do you remember what you were doing?

JINI: It’s just an energetic thing. I think I was just—that you can expand or you can empty yourself and open yourself up a bit. I was just trying to open myself up a bit and take my energy down to my heart center and just connect as two people and not as, “I’m the tourist journalist that you are taking around and you’ve got to be a certain way and I’ve got to be a certain way.” Throwing that out and just, “We’re just two people and we’re going to make a connection hopefully, and let’s do it that way.”

AISLYN: We’ve talked about various ways to open ourselves up to connection, but let’s talk again about the value of opening ourselves up to places. In this case, the quote unquote tourist traps. Here’s Eric again:

ERIC: To some extent, the tourist trap is in the mind of the beholder. You’re trapping yourself in a way in the tourist places by saying, “Because I’m experiencing this with hordes of other people, it can’t possibly be authentic,” or, “Because I’m not the first person here, it’s a tourist trap,” or, “Because these people are trying to earn a living selling little statues of the Eiffel Tower, that diminishes the beauty and grandeur of the Eiffel Tower.” I think that’s a mistake. I think you’re trapping yourself. You’re making your own tourist trap that way.

Keep in mind that touristed places are like clichés. They’re clichés because they’re right, they’re beautiful. All clichés were once someone’s original idea and expression, and all tourist traps were once somebody’s [discoveries]. The first, I guess, non-Egyptian, in this case, to stumble across the pyramids must have been like, “Holy sh*t, what the heck is that? That’s amazing.” You’re not going to have exactly that experience, but you can still appreciate it.

AISLYN: Eric wants to be clear that he’s not saying we shouldn’t try to travel like locals, that we should only go to tourist sites. But just as there’s value in getting off the beaten path, there’s value to the beaten path. Eric shared an example from a recent trip to Europe, where he found this value in a surprising way.

ERIC: I just came back from Paris and I went to Versailles, the palace just outside of Paris. It’s along with the Louvre probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Paris area. I thought I was so smart that I had booked my ticket online for 9:00 a.m., the first slot, because they have assigned slots. I thought I’d beat the crowds, not even close. It was mobbed, and everyone’s back and wants to see Versailles. I got depressed for a second. I’m just a tourist, I’m at Versailles, I’m with everyone else, snapping pictures of the grandeur here. Then I started watching the watchers, like watching the tourists and observe them anthropologically, how different groups behaved and how this group was different from that one and the way—which rooms in the palace they chose to linger in, which ones they ignored.

AISLYN: And because of this attitude shift, Eric found a really cool moment.

ERIC: I was in the gift shop because there’s always a gift shop. There’s baroque music playing in the loudspeaker system and the woman who’s working in the gift shop, she just starts dancing because it was like dancing music. Then I started dancing and she said in French, “This is Versailles,” and it was just a little tiny moment, but I was in the gift shop of Versailles, and if you’re able to connect with a local person for just a moment in the gift shop of Versailles, the most traveled place in France probably, that’s pretty cool.

AISLYN: Yes, that’s a miracle.

ERIC: The thing is you have to be open to—once you decide like, “Oh, God, this is terrible,” and I went through that phase, but I got past it. I think what you said earlier about embrace the oddness but embrace the tourism too, you’re like—If you’re fighting it all the time saying, “I’m not a tourist, I’m not a tourist, I’m a traveler, I’m a traveler,” you wouldn’t have that experience of dancing with the woman who works in the gift shop at Versailles.

You have to be willing to make a fool out of yourself, which I’m willing to do, much to the chagrin of my teenage daughter. You have to be willing to say, “Look, yes, to some extent, I’m a dumb American, so I’m just going to blunder along here.” You do it in an open-minded way. You’re blundering along, but you got your eyes wide open. You’re willing to be open to the possibility that life is otherwise—which I think lies at the heart of travel—the possibility that life is otherwise.

AISLYN: And that’s why we travel, right? Because we believe that life can be otherwise. Before we leave, let’s look at what we explored.

Takeaway #1

The desire to travel like a local isn’t a bad one, but it’s important that we examine our intentions: Why do we want this experience, and what are we hoping to achieve? How can we do it in a way that has depth?

Takeaway #2

Socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, and much more factor into our travels—there’s no getting around it. If you’re traveling with what some would consider a more privileged passport, consider ways that you might dial down your privilege if it makes sense to do so. Perhaps you don’t carry the fancy water bottle or wear the fancy shoes or watch. This can help open doors for connection.

Takeaway #3

Embrace discomfort. Be honest and respectful about what you’re experiencing and use it as a way to ask questions and go deeper.

Takeaway #4:

Instead of trying to be a local, watch the people in your destination. How do people converse? What hand gestures do they use? What’s the pace of daily life like there? Also tune into how this makes you feel. Are you uncomfortable or totally at ease? Do you find yourself shrinking back or leaning in? If so, why?

Takeaway #5

When connecting with people, set aside your own worldview and be curious. Look for places of connection. Be open and generous with your energy, as long as it feels safe to do so.

Takeaway #6

Yes, get off the beaten path, if the community you’re visiting can support tourism. Continue to support local businesses, restaurants, and neighborhoods. But don’t overlook the popular places for travelers. If you really want to see the pyramids in Egypt or Versailles in Paris, don’t hesitate to go. Just because you’re sharing the experience with others, doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic. Continue to watch and observe. Search for the magic moments of connection in those busy places.

Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of Unpacked. From one sometimes local, sometimes outsider to another, I hope to see you out there.

Ready for more unpacking? Visit us online at afar.com, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter. We’re @afarmedia. If you enjoyed today’s exploration, we hope you’ll come back for more great stories. Subscribing makes this easy! You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform. And please be sure to rate and review us. It helps other travelers find the show.

This has been Unpacked, a production of AFAR Media and Boom Integrated. Our podcast is produced by Aislyn Greene, Adrien Glover, and Robin Lai. Postproduction was by John Marshall Media staff Jen Grossman and Clint Rhodes. Music composition by Alan Karesha.

And remember: The world is complicated. Being an ethical traveler doesn’t have to be.

>> Next: Podcast: How to Navigate the Wild World of Ethical Animal Tourism

Aislyn is a deputy editor at AFAR, where she edits long-form narratives for the magazine and hosts AFAR’s Travel Tales podcast. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito.
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