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How traveling like a local can help overcome mass tourism

Venice. The antique Italian city known for its canals, bridges, the Piazzo San Marco and - mass tourism. So overwhelming mass tourism has become that the regional authorities announced that tourists now require a ticket to enter the city. And Venice is not alone. Many European cities have announced measures to counter the disadvantages associated with mass tourism. From banning Airbnb in the historic center of Amsterdam to Paris banning busses in the center of town. The best way to fix this? Travel like a local.

Venice - that historic town best known for mass tourism

One of the causes of mass tourism is - ironically - the very successful campaigns by authorities to promote their city or region. City marketing such as the iconic I AMSTERDAM campaign sought to promote the city as an attractive destination for travelers. It is tourism that allows the vast majority of museums and restaurants to survive. Tourism in itself isn't a bad thing.

The thing is: it attracted a different kind of tourism. The kind that allowed the immense amount of coffeeshops and bars to survive. And as most of these ventures were owned by foreigners, with almost no benefit to the locals. Profits fled the city even quicker than its visitors and what was left were overcrowded streets, an overkill of tourism shops that sell Nutella or other kinds of candy and a city that in no way reflects the city that people actually wanted to visit.

Introduce: traveling like a local

So, okay. The Age of Tourism didn't bring exactly what we wanted. Instead of discovering new cultures and immersing yourself in the local population tasting its local cuisine, you find yourself now crawling the narrow streets eating kebab with thousands of other tourists just like you.

The good news is: there is a solution.

Local 'Amsterdammers' know exactly which places to stay away from. Actually, I know not a single Amsterdammer who'd show their visitors the places most tourists would visit. Amsterdam is full of awesome places to discover, it's just not where you think it would be. And it needs some inside knowledge.

Janek Rubes has a wonderful video series on how to avoid tourist traps, called the Honest Guide (this is actually a must see!). In the video below he explains a bit on why he did so and why a lot of people love it.

So, traveling like a local has a few clear advantages.

First: you're gonna discover the real city or region that you're visiting. Not the tourist version of it. If traveling is about discovering new places and cultures, you have to get away from the kebab and into a typical goulash (well, maybe not so if you're visiting Beirut).

Second: traveling like a local allows you to get away from the overcrowded historic center and into the places where it really happens. Positive side effect: it helps to spread the invasion of tourists over a larger area, making it more livable for all.

Third: if you visit a local restaurant, exhibition or pub you stimulate the local economy and not some well off American franchise.

And fourth: you're saving yourself a lot of money.

Javastraat Amsterdam Oost
Javastraat, Amsterdam Oost. One of those places that's actually way more fun than 'De Wallen'

But, if a lot of people love to travel like a local, why do a lot of people travel like, well, a tourist?

One of the issues is that traditional travel agencies just don't work that way. They buy large amounts of packages at traditional hotels for a discount, and resell it to you. There is just no incentive for them to change as this works out quite well for them.

Another issue is that if you visit a city for the first time, you just don't know where you should go. There is a lot of info available online, surely, but most travel blogs lack the inside knowledge of a local.

At Travel Wizards we are building a platform where we match travelers with locals who'd love to help organize their next trip. Our local wizards know all about the place you want to go and can help you discover that place like a local would. They can help you with finding good tickets, accommodation, local hotspots and more. Sounds good? Check it out via

Oh, we're also looking for local experts to join us. Do you know all about a city or region and would you like to make money helping travelers discover it? We'd love you to join us! You can read all about it and sign up here!

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