Hello! I’m Natalie, the creator of Tourist 2 Local. I’m from the U.S., but I’ve spent over 7 years of my life abroad, living in countries like Spain, Mexico, Germany, Finland, and South Korea. I enjoy learning about different cultures, and for some strange reason, I actually like learning languages. I can speak Spanish, German, and also a bit of Portuguese, Korean, French, Basque, and Italian. I’ve got a big passion for learning about what life is like around the world, and that is what motivates me to see as much of it as I can.
My passion for traveling comes from my family. Both of my parents lived in three different countries while they were growing up, as did my aunts, uncles, and grandparents. So, being around different languages, foods, and cultures was normal for me as a kid.
My grandfather also had a huge impact on me. He has been to over 100 countries around the world and has the coolest stories about traveling to places like Iran, Morocco, and Vietnam. Therefore, being bitten by the travel bug himself, he understood the benefit of traveling, and actually encouraged me to get out and explore the world from a young age. His ideas about travel were a stark contrast to so many other families I saw, who were terrified of their kids stepping foot outside U.S. soil because they were afraid of what was out there.
As you can see, my somewhat international family is the reason why I love traveling and learning about new cultures. Through their stories about far away lands, excitement about life abroad, and penchant for speaking in foreign languages, they passed their love of the world on to me. Now I’m the one who is out discovering this planet, and I’m just having fun soaking it all in.
The concept of traveling like a local was also influenced by my family, and how they travelled. They taught me from an earlier age to try and get off the beaten path. They didn’t want us eating fast food or at chain restaurants. Instead, we would always search for that hidden restaurant, the one with amazing food that the locals were crazy about.
They also taught me to try and learn at least a few words in the local language, and to respect a culture’s unique customs. I remember when I went to Mexico for the first time at at the age of 17. Before getting on the plane, my mom spoke with me about Mexican culture, and how there would be differences between their culture and ours. She stressed the importance of respecting those differences, and showed me the value of immersing myself into their culture.
So, the concept of traveling like a local is nothing new for me. It’s an idea that has been developing in me since I was a kid, and something that I have been refining ever since.
If you hadn’t guessed it by now, the goal if this website is to help you become more immersed in the local culture as you travel. I have general tips on how you can get more off the beaten path in specific cities. I also have articles on local food recommendations, insights into various cultures, some language tips, and even more.
As tourists, we are never going to live 100% like the locals. Yet, the more you can connect with a local culture and its’ people, the more memorable and meaningful your travels are going to be.