Local knowledge is not all that
comment 9 Written by on April 11, 2011 – 6:28 pm


Locals don’t always know best” is the headline of a fair post by blogger Candice Walsh. She talks about the downside of local knowledge, ie that hanging out with someone who lives in a place isn’t always a free pass into an all inter-circle of incredible secrets, you can get your fair share of dud information along the way too.

“Locals and city natives can get jaded about their homes after many years, and what’s old and tired to them is fresh and exciting for someone else,” she writes.

I use the word “locals” a lot on this blog. Of course, it’s a massive generalisation. That’s why I loved the “I love locals” T-shirt I featured here the other week, because I think it has a tongue-in-cheek feel.

Candice, a Canadian from Newfoundland, makes her point by giving a great example of how tourists and locals can have different radars of excitement. From a night in a pub in Harlow in England, she said she remembers: “one bartender pointing out a tear in the modern wallpaper where centuries-old wallpaper peeked through from underneath”.

Imagine a Brit getting excited about this? I doubt I’d even deem it worthy enough to point it out.

Photo: A not-very-old or secret pub in Canada. Copyright: Vicky Baker

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9 Responses to “Local knowledge is not all that”

  1. Off the top of my head I can only think of one city where what the locals like to see and do chimes almost exactly with what visitors want to see and do – and that’s Dublin. I’m sure there are more.

    Long-term expats are often the worst sources of advice, being particularly snarky towards anything they view as a “tourist trap”.

    By MattyC on Apr 11, 2011 | Reply
  2. One thing is certain, after you settle somewhere, you’re not inclined to go where tourists go.
    You learn to detect what is price for locals and tourists, and don’t want to be ripped off just because you’re a foreigner.

    And it’s also true that locals are not always a good source of local lore: I’ve met many new yorkers who’d never been to Liberty Island or Empire State Bld., and many cariocas who never went to Pão de Açucar or Corcovado. Some locals always go to the same places every weekend, and have lunch in the same restaurants, and so on.

    But there’re also those who have their share of local knowledge far beyond any foreigner can collect…

  3. While it’s certainly true that ‘locals don’t always know best’, they do tend to know more than the average outsider, plus, being there on the ground, means they have first-hand access to the most up to date destination information available anywhere. What we’ve found at Tripbod is the true value of local knowledge lies both in its relevance (so the ability to customize local advice and information is key) and the verifiable nature of its source (is it trustworthy and from someone like-minded). Our unique travel service is built around this ethos. We offer independent travellers a personal 1-to-1 connection with a handpicked local expert – matching them based on destination and special interest – to co-create a completely tailored trip. Our Tripbods are all vetted for their passion and commitment to their locales so we’re confident you won’t find a less jaded network of like-minded locals anywhere else on the web. Why not try Tripbod and find out?

  4. Locals involved in the travel trade can be of great use as it is my experience that travel agents sell the deals on which they get the best commission and not necessary what the client wants or needs. Speak to a local tourist guide or Tripbod for the best advise.

  5. Matt – yep, on long-term expat thing, but again it depends on the person. I think some people can snap out of that and still recognise what would excite a newcomer. Not easy though. I find myself writing/reading about places in BA thinking “God, not that old place again”, but sometimes we reinvent the tourism wheel too earlier. We are always looking for “new” things for articles, when the five-year old bar bar/resto/hotel still has the same lovely views/service/atmos.

    True, Henry. And sometimes it takes a visitor from out of town to spur a local into seeing more of their own city. The first time I went to the Tower of London was when I had visitors staying and it wasn’t that long ago. More than the obvious sites though, talking a visitor can also really help shed new light on where you live.

    As for Tripbod, well that is rather different. Your folk are bound to be more on the ball and more intune with what visitors want. I wouldn’t knock a Tripbod.

    I’m not backtracking and saying all local knowledge is now useless, and neither is Candice I’m sure. Just that it is not always automatic gold.

    Thanks all for the comments.

  6. As a (four years) local on the Island of Roatan, I love connecting and sharing with visitors! While it is true that my knowledge is limited to the places I like to go and the people I know. I can also let visitors what places proved to be real duds, saving money and heartache and if I don’t know about something, I usually know someone who does and will direct them there.

    Roatan, not perfect, but definitely paradise!

  7. I had a much different experience with locals than Matt when I went to Dublin. At a pub I asked some locals suggestions for things to do while I was visiting and they all said “drink!” When I asked if that was really what they did all day there answer was, “what else is there to do?” haha. I had a great vacation there but ended up relying on the manager of my hostel for suggestions rather than locals I encountered.

  8. I think that the local experience and the tourist experience are two different things, one may not be necessarily better than the other. It depends on the person. Finding the balance is usually the key to everything.

  9. I used to live in Harlow and yes, wallpaper would count for excitement there. Locals are lazy. I know I was when I lived in England. Hardly be bothered to venture onto the Roman Wall, which was only an hour away. Now I live in Montreal I find I do all sorts of things most of our Canadian friends have not done – skate the world’s longest ice rink in Ottawa, stay a night in the Quebec ice hotel,etc. I just returned to England for the first time since emigrating and guess what the first thing was I wanted to do. Walk the Roman Wall of course.

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