Intrepid’s local leaders share insider tips

written by Stefan Prince April 8, 2024

Passionate local leaders are at the heart of every Intrepid trip. They’ve got the experience and all the insider info you could need when you’re exploring somewhere new.  

If you’ve been on an Intrepid trip, you’ll know that local leaders have a deep-rooted connection to the countries they share with visitors. After exploring a destination’s ins and outs, they also know a thing or two about travelling. So I asked a few leaders to share their travel wisdom for your next adventure.

Explore with an open mind 

If you genuinely want to embrace your travels, Fidelio Montes, a leader in Belize, says being open-minded ‘covers everything.’ Huyen Nguyen, in Vietnam, seconds this, adding that travelling with an open mind gives you ‘the chance to interact with local people and dive into culture more easily.’  

Matteo Guisti, a local leader based in Rome, explains that the trick to having an open mind is to embrace differences. ‘Learn from other cultures,’ he says, ‘and be curious and adventurous and always be respectful and polite. This will make a huge and positive difference in the way you will impact a different culture and a different culture will impact you. With this mindset, only good things lie ahead.’ 

Intrepid leader Huyen Nguyen
Huyen Nguyen, a local leader in Vietnam says travelling with an open mind gives you ‘the chance to interact with local people and dive into culture more easily.’  

Pack light  

Packing light is easier said than done – who’s to say you definitely won’t need everything plus the kitchen sink? But Intrepid leaders suggest going light on luggage because that makes it easier to roam free. Colombia’s Andres Castellanos reckons ‘travelling is more enjoyable when you’re not weighed down by unnecessary belongings.’  

Plus, when you’re excited about a trip, dealing with a suitcase stuffed to the max isn’t always stress-free. Wes Michels-Ratliff of California’s biggest trip is always travel with a carry-on. ‘I’ve never lost luggage but had travellers with lost luggage many times.’  

Phurba Sherpa, a trekking leader in Nepal who’s braved the Himalayas more than once, thinks that smart packing is the way forward (no matter where you’re going). ‘Consider packing versatile and lightweight clothing to accommodate various weather conditions.’  

Meet the locals

Phurba Sherpa from Nepal says engaging with fellow travellers and locals is how you ‘create lasting memories from your journey.’

With an open mind and a (literal) weight off your shoulders, it’s time to immerse yourself in a new destination. The best place to start is by getting to know the people who call it home. Phurba says engaging with fellow travellers and locals is how you ‘create lasting memories from your journey.’

Soner Gul is a local leader in Turkey, a country where being warm and generous to visitors is deeply ingrained in the culture. ‘My advice for every traveller is this: when you visit a new country, take every opportunity to meet locals. I always encourage travellers in my group to connect with people from small towns and villages. That’s when you’ll truly understand a culture better, and that’s when you’ll have an amazing experience.’

Intrepid trips centre around such experiences – from staying with families to taking part in community activities. Moroccan leader Hassan Errami says, ‘immersing yourself in the local customs by trying traditional cuisine and engaging with the friendly locals will enhance your overall experience.’

And respect the locals 

While meeting and interacting with locals is a big part of the Intrepid experience, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s a privilege to be welcomed into someone’s home and given a window into their culture or taught their traditions and crafts.

The least travellers can do is to ‘respect local customs and traditions, fostering positive interactions with the community,’ says Phurba. Croatia’s Davor Karlovic shares a similar sentiment, asking visitors to ‘always respect the local culture and environment.’

Hassan also has advice for anyone looking to support local craftspeople and observing etiquette when taking part in local customs like haggling. ‘Bargaining is a common practice in the markets (souks) of Morocco. However, it’s important to do it respectfully and with a smile. Remember that both parties should feel satisfied with the final price.’

Plan ahead, but leave room for spontaneity

Intrepid’s itineraries balance planned activities and free time to do your own exploring. Local leaders agree that having a blend of both makes for an unforgettable experience. ‘Some of the best travel memories come from unplanned adventures, so leave room for serendipity,’ says Andres.

If you like to know what’s happening day-to-day while travelling, Davor suggests ‘researching and planning your trip, but leaving room for spontaneous adventures.’ One way you can do that is by taking a page from Hassan’s travel playbook. His top tip is to ‘venture into the countryside. Take the time to explore the lesser-known regions for a more authentic experience.’

‘Some of the best travel memories come from unplanned adventures, so leave room for serendipity,’ says Colombian local leader, Andres Castellanos.

Always leave room for a meal 

Breaking bread with someone is often the simplest way to make a connection and the easiest place to begin. As Phurba says, all you need to do is ‘dive into the local cuisine for an authentic experience and keep a flexible itinerary to allow for discoveries.’

In places where food is at the heart of the country’s culture, this is especially true – it pays to be adventurous and try out stuff you haven’t done before. In Italy, Matteo feels people understand that better than most. ‘A meal is never just about filling your belly. It’s a ritualistic experience. It’s a way of forging connections in a communal vibe surrounded by history and heritage,’ he says.

Reach out to your local leader   

Travelling with Intrepid is all about gaining a new perspective on the places and cultures you visit. Vuong Truong, a local leader from Vietnam, feels the best way to do that is to ask. ‘My best travel tip is to never mind having questions for your leader, especially about the country, because the more questions you ask, the better experiences and knowledge you’ll have.’

Follow in the footsteps of a local leader on your next adventure.

Feeling inspired?

You might also like

Back To Top