So what does it really mean when we say “live like a local”? We obviously can’t be locals everywhere and we don’t claim to be! Back in 2012 when I was first trying to make this business idea into a reality, I was chatting with a good friend of mine and the tagline “live like a local” came up after talking about the way we liked to travel. I wanted to create trips that felt as though your friends (that were locals) from each destination were the ones showing you around. Being taken around your friend’s hometown or country always felt WAY more fun and meaningful than just researching online and crossing your fingers. This is actually how I got the idea to start Coast to Costa in the first place.
I started this dream job in 2012 but the real beginnings were in 2004 when I went to live in Spain. I had never really enjoyed college or knew what the hell I wanted to do, so I decided to take three months off and learn Spanish in Sevilla, Spain. I totally fell in love with everything about living over there and I ended up living in Spain for 4 years (and Italy for a year). When I came back to the US, I was living in San Francisco and working at a Catalan restaurant. I would always go back to Spain and bring groups of friends along. In Spain friends of mine who were chefs and bartenders began to open their own spots. I would have them show us around and "guide" us. This led to not only the best restaurants but that rad little hole in the wall club where we danced our butts off til the early morning. Our original itineraries were led by friends of mine from my time living in Spain and friends I had made at the restaurant in SF that were wine makers, cheese mongers and ham (jamón is the best) purveyors. When I put all of these friends together, I realized I had a whole food and wine itinerary in and around the places in Spain that I loved. We have taken this original model and applied it to all of the destinations that we travel to.
When we say “live like a local”, we aren’t trying to say you’re going to become a local in days or that there’s any shame in being a tourist. Being an American traveling abroad comes with many privileges that we’re aware of and thankful for. Without actually being a local theres no way to fully see the complete in and outs, good and bad of a country. We aren’t trying to minimized or downplay that. We are solely trying to highlight that we have developed amazing relationships with all of the people we work with in all of our destinations. I have learned that making friends and working with those friends ensures the best possible travel experience everywhere that we travel. When choosing new destinations, we'll always choose places that I have lived, have spent time in or places where I have good friendships with key people to show our travelers around. Each trip is completely led by friends (who have now become family) of ours that do the best job. I choose them to bring us into THEIR world and to show us THEIR culture.
When we started this adventure 7 years ago, there were not a lot of people offering these authentic, locally guided travel experiences. It seems like nowadays, there’s a lot of companies saying the same things. What I can tell you is after 200 + trips that we've organized and led, we can honestly say that when you come on our trips, you truly live like a local. Our local friends and family in each destination guarantee it!