Featured, Germany, Travel, Travel Advice

The Berlin Experiment

9 Comments 20 February 2013

I’m not a huge fan of science.  In fact I made it all the way through college without taking a science class with a lab component – I focused on physics and astronomy instead.  But for my next travel adventures I will be adjusting my nerdy glasses, dawning a ‘virtual’ lab coat and grabbing a set of beakers and test tubes to conduct a travel experiment with some good friends of mine. No – this isn’t some sort of Jeckle and Hyde experiment, it’s a travel experiment to see just how possible it is to live like a local as a traveler who is simply passing through. This is my kind of science!

Travel companies, writers, and social media marketers have seized upon the ‘local travel’ concept as being key to the way in which people today want to experience trips abroad.

“Live like a local.” “Experience cities like a local.” “Eat like a local.” “Travel like a local.”

The thinking goes like this – travelers today want to  immerse themselves in local life and tap into what are pitched as ‘authentic’ experiences.  One way to do this is to choose to stay in a rental apartment as opposed to, say, a hotel.  But as a visitor is it ever really possible to have true local experiences, and more importantly – why exactly do we want to have local experiences – what are we after?

The Scientists! Lisa and I are ready to test!

In March I arrive in Berlin with my good friend, colleague, and fellow career breaker turned travel writer – Lisa Lubin.  We will be staying in Berlin in an apartment provided by my friends at Go With Oh and Living la Vida Local! For the entire month of March, we will be living in this Oh-Berlin Friedrichshain apartment as we throw ourselves into tackling the pressing questions at the heart of the experiment: what does it mean, practically, to live like a local? Is it attainable, and if so, how? Do people actually want realistic travel experiences? Does staying in a rental apartment make it easier or more difficult to achieve?

In order to research these questions, Lisa and I will be taking language lessons, enrolling in neighborhood yoga classes, biking around the city, exploring neighborhoods with locals, and trying to ultimately establish some sort of routine to ‘fit in’ –  if that’s possible.  We will also be throwing dinner parties to meet with other locals and Berlin bloggers/writers to gather their opinions on the subject of living local and local travel.

In the process Go with Oh will be collecting all of our data we gather daily in journals and sharing them with the ‘scientific community’ – YOU!  If you’d like to follow the experiment live then you’ll want to bookmark this virtual lab they’ve put together.

Other ways to follow along:

  • Follow and add your opinion to the hashtag #GWOlocal on twitter
  • Facebook pages where we will be posting photos and updates from our experiments in Berlin:
  • Plus – check out and enter the Go with Oh Facebook competition they are running in order to win your very own weekend for two in Berlin.  I’ll even provide some ‘local tips’ if you win!


More Info:

Living la Vida Local – Read this to learn more on what it’s all about

This topic is certainly not new to me – I have covered this ‘local travel trend’ experience before – but not quite in this depth.  However if you’d like to read my past articles focusing on local experiences traveling the check these out:
How to Fit in Like a Local in Barcelona
Apartments for Extended Travel
Experiencing a Local Tango Culture in Buenos Aires
Local Markets in Istanbul
A Day with Albert
Eating Local in New York City
Not For Tourists Luau


Disclosure:  The Living la Vida Local experiment is in partnership with Go with Oh.  However all opinions expressed are my own.

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. I missed my chance to meet Lisa while back home in Chicago over the summer during the Meet, Plan, Go meeting, sniff! I read Frances Mayes’s “A Year in the World” about her desire to go local and seek out the meaning of “home” a few years ago when I’d been in Spain for a year. Easy, fun read! Have a great time in Berlin; such a fun place!

  2. Efrutik says:

    I am in Berlin now for the past 6 months and am looking forward to your experiment experience. Definitely would love to visit one of your “dinners with locals” as I find myself getting attached to this very foreign yet intriguing city that has brought so many challenges and lot’s of open questions.

  3. Looking forward to reading about your experiment. Not sure whether “being local” can truly be achieved by travellers/tourists. We try our hardest when we travel by staying in one place for an extended amount of time, learning the language, meeting locals, being invited to local events and hanging out at locally frequented bars and restaurants but the fact of the matter is we don’t live with the problems locals may have to endure be it political or other.

  4. This is exactly how we like to travel and exactly what we look for…”living like a local” or as close as we can get. To me it means that we don’t have a concierge for help. we don’t eat out every meal. we have Space and a home like feel. We can shop at the local market for food and integrate with locals on public transit. I can’t wait to see the results of this. :-)

  5. Lynn says:

    Sherry Lee and I will be in Germany at the end of March! But not Berlin, boohoo. Western and southern, the Rhine, Baden-Baden. Then on to Belgium and the Netherlands. Wish there was a way to connect, but Berlin was too far out of the way for this trip.

    My opinion on the live like a local conundrum, is that the only way to do it is to stay in one place for awhile, more than a month, 4-6 months at least. Or, maybe by staying with friends that actually live in the area.

    • Sherry says:

      Ohhh – so sorry I will miss you guys – we are close but yet so far! I saw you were on the Antarctica webinar I did – are you thinking of going there too? :)
      Yes – I agree – I think that in order to really have local experiences that you need to be there for a while in a location – or live with a local – but it will be fun to see what inroads we can make in a month! I guess that’s why it’s an experiment!

  6. Ohhh Sherry I’m so happy to “work” with you again! This is so much fun!!

  7. Kate says:

    I absolutely love staying in apartments and staying in a city for a month or two. I didn’t love Berlin when I spent a short time there but had the feeling I just hadn’t found the awesomeness yet.

  8. efrutik says:

    Was wondering if you are still in Berlin and fancy a meet up perhaps ?

    All the best !

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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