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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Arthur Frommer: 'Like-a-local' gives you an insider's experience

BY ARTHUR FROMMER

Like-a-local (www.like-a-local.com) is one of the most intriguing, most exciting travel websites I've seen in some time. It is somewhat like one of those free-of-charge greeters programs in New York or Chicago, except that this one imposes a modest charge for its services.

But Like-a-local, now in its fifth year of operation, is also found in scores of large world cities, where enthusiastic "locals" take you to see their favorite sights and activities, and even sometimes host you (for a small charge) at a dinner or other meal in their home.

It's obvious to me that these local s are acting as greeters and guides not for the money, but because of their love for their home cities and the pleasure they get from showing visitors around. You register for Like-a-local on the eve of a trip, and your date of arrival and place of stay are communicated to one of the various locals in that city.

After first confirming the visit and the modest price, they then meet you on arrival and take you to see not the famous tourist attractions but the ones where locals gather (and cherish); you live like a local. I was amused by the proposed itinerary suggested by a local in New York City who made almost exclusive use only of sights and attractions that were free to view or use: a free ocean-going ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a visit to a museum on a pay-what-you-wish day, a free visit to civic buildings and free university speeches or presentations, and the like.

And, as earlier promised, some of the locals cook a meal for you in their own homes, for which they ask a modest fee. I have often searched for ways to enjoy foreign cities exactly as a resident does, to experience the unique lifestyles and pleasures of local residents, the places where tourists are rarely found. Like-a-local, created five years ago by three friends, and now consisting of an awesome number of options, tours, greeters, and home-cooked meals, comes closer to satisfying that desire than any service other than the half-dozen greeters programs about which I've written in the past. Take a look at Like-a-local.

Arthur Frommer is the founder of the Frommer's Travel Guide book series. He co-hosts the radio program, The Travel Show, with his travel correspondent daughter Pauline Frommer. Find more destinations online and read Arthur Frommer's blog at frommers.com.

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