The Reasons We Should Be Using Local Guides
Picture the scenario - you've just landed somewhere new, and all you want to do is get out and see something. You've left your hotel, walked past a travel office, found some cool things you can do in the area and booked a tour. Next morning, you leave nice and early and jump into a cramped minibus. You get out and spend the rest of your day stuck behind a slow tour group. At least you won't get lost because you have someone at the front waving a flag
Does that not sound horrible?
The crossroads of independent travel and enjoying authentic, local experiences while avoiding group tours is possible, with the use of a local guide.
Travel has the power to not only be a transformative experience for you, but also for the communities and destinations that you visit.
Using big overseas corporations who manage to plot themselves on the top of your Google search box does not do anything for the locals or the destination. Yes ok, they get you to the area safe and comfortable on a big airconditioned bus, but there is hardly any, if not zero, direct benefit for those who are welcoming you to their home.
There are many companies which link you are with local guides and excursions where your money goes straight to the people of the communities.
Local Guide Companies I recommend
Here are two agencies which link you up with people that your money means most to:
ILikeLocal - 'See the real world. Travel with locals and make an impact'. That's their slogan. What I love about them is that they supply top local experiences, and 100% of their package cost goes to THE LOCAL! Here you can find local homestays and farm stays for accommodation too! The perfect way to give back.
ToursByLocals - Featured in many top worldwide newspapers, ToursByLocals is another company which connect you with experienced local guides. They've served now over a million customers worldwide, and they offer 24-hour support.
Why Use Local Guides?
Local Guides are Experts
Think of it like this - local guides are local experts. The majority have years, if not a lifetime of experience in the surrounding areas. They know the location thoroughly and can provide you with access and insight to things like knowledge and informatio, offering a truly authentic experience.
They can adapt to situations
With local contacts and a wealth of knowledge of the destination or attraction you're visiting, local guides can easily modify the day’s schedule. If let's say you have had enough of what you're doing, a local can give you alternative ideas and recommendations.
Other Possible Options
Another thing you can do, which I did many times in Indonesia, is just finding someone in the area and paying them to take you. It's easier than you can imagine.
You're probably thinking 'How can I trust them?' or 'How do you know they'll do what I want?'
It's in their interest to give you the best experience possible! They would love to be able to tell their friends that they spent the day showing someone from Europe around a waterfall, or guiding you around a market and sharing their knowledge with you. In most cases, they are just as interested in you as you are of the place they're showing you!