How to Travel Like A Local

How to Travel Like A Local-Travelshopa-3Image: Le 21ème

There’s hardly a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to travelling. Some travellers shuffle from one tourist hotspot to another, ticking them off an unending travel bucket list with relish. Others prefer an experience that’s closer to the ground, one that immerses them in the indigenous cultures and local ways of life. Want to know where the locals hang rather than be led through another maze of tourist traps? These tips will show you how to travel like a local.



Follow local hashtags

Do a bit of sniffing around on Instagram to find out the hashtags that local communities use. Travellers to Singapore, for instance, should keep tabs on hashtags like #exploresingapore or #seengapore to get a sense of where the locals are going and hopefully stumble upon a few spots that appeal to their particular tastes and travel style. You can also trawl for other popular hashtags people in the city are using by entering the name of the city you are visiting in the Instagram search box. Don’t forget to add the same hashtags to any photos you post of that city for more likes and shares. You might even find Instagram fame if your post gets picked up by the local tourism board.


Crowdsource for tips

If your search for the best hidden gems in each city isn’t turning up much, posting a question on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook could yield unexpected results. There’s bound to be a friend or two who has travelled to where you’re going and who will be more than willing to point you in the right direction.


Learn a few key phrases

When you find yourself in a destination where English is not the first language, having a few key phrases up your sleeves can make any experience much more pleasant. Take the time to learn a few basics like greetings, yes, no, thank you, sorry, some numbers and directions. Even if you make a slip of the tongue, most locals appreciate the effort and will warm up to you

How to Travel Like A Local-Travelshopa-1
How to Travel Like A Local-Travelshopa-2

Image: The Haute Pursuit

Dress code

Sometimes the easiest way to feel like a local is to dress like one. A little prior research on what the locals wear can save you from being the obvious tourist. Borrow style cues from the locals and keep your eyes peeled when you’re browsing shops or the local market. While our first instinct may be to dress for the weather, many countries outside the West tend to regard exposing too much skin as immodest so do your due diligence and be sure to show respect for traditional or religious dress codes.


Trade your hotel room for a local’s apartment

To experience life as a local, get out of the tourist clusters where most hotels and hostels are situated and put up in the heartlands instead. You’ll want to arrange your own independent or local accommodation in areas where residents actually live for a more authentic experience. Platforms such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing easily lets you meet locals who will be willing to host your stay for a fee, and in the case of Couchsurfing, even for free! If you’re lucky, you’ll land a host who will be happy to show you around and take you to those hidden spots you’d never find on your own.


Study a map

While there are a dozens of apps designed to help travellers navigate each city, nothing beats a good ol’ foldable map. The map shows all: Mark out the spots you absolutely want to visit and you’ll soon be able to discern the best route to take. Figure out which neighbourhoods or areas you’ll be spending the most time in and arrange your accommodation within walking distance. That will save you both time and money on transport. Keep the map reading discreet though, or you risk looking like a lost — dare we say it — tourist.

 How to Travel Like A Local-Travelshopa-4
 How to Travel Like A Local-Travelshopa-5

Left: La Chica De Los Jueves, Olivia Palermo

Read before landing

Almost every guidebook or inflight magazine will have a “best of” list of some sort and going through them should net you some worthy hangouts and restaurants. Once you’re on the ground and exploring the city, pick up a newspaper or weekly arts and culture publication and give it a quick read. It’ll help you get up to speed with the city’s most raved about local restaurants, exhibitions, events and more.


Skip the tourist sites

No doubt, the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and Notre Dame are formidable tourist palaces worthy of awe and admiration.Checking these off your list will earn you some bragging rights for sure, but it will also guarantee that you will be surrounded by a hoard of tourists. Instead of seeking the tried-and-true, why not step off the beaten track and explore the lesser-known parts? The best discoveries are stumbled upon, never planned, so walk the streets at length and swallow deep lungfuls of foreign-scented air as you hike the local nature trail. Otherwise, hop on a bike and let your natural curiosity take the wheel. You never know where you’ll end up!

Ayla Dimitri

Ayla Dimitri on Jakarta | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Common knowledge tells you Jakarta is the sprawling capital of Indonesia — a city as notorious for its traffic jams as much as its full-flavoured cuisine. For most travellers, it’s usually seen as the gateway to the paradisiacal island of Bali but Jakarta bears it’s own unique cultural appeal. From the historic Old City flanked by towering high-rise buildings to kerbside warungs and shopping malls, the city invites exploration.

We tap on the travel smarts of content creator and freelance fashion editor, Ayla Dimitri, who also happens to be an Instagram celebrity. She has worked for numerous fashion and lifestyle names including ELLE Indonesia and, which contribute to an impressive knowledge of the city’s best urban finds.



Jakarta’s vibe…

Jakarta is always hectic. The streets are always crowded and traffic jams are a real issue.


Favourite thing about Jakarta…

Everyone knows everyone, so it’s easy to gain access to events or clubs.


Least favourite thing about Jakarta…

The traffic jams, and sometimes people can be so ignorant of proper public conduct — littering and spitting in public places and such.


Fun fact about the locals…

People in Jakarta love drama and gossip.


Best time to visit…

All year round. We only have two seasons here — summer and rainy.


What to pack…

Vitamins and antiseptic


Ayla Dimitri on Jakarta| Insider's Guide | Travelshopa


Jakarta black book


National Gallery of Indonesia — I love going for art exhibitions around the city and I usually make the National Gallery one of my first stops.



Morrissey Hotel — The Morrissey Hotel is a good choice for longer stays. The modern, minimalistic rooms are equipped with a kitchen and everything you need to create a comfortable temporary home.

The Hermitage Hotel — The Hermitage Hotel is set within a beautifully restored Art Deco building that was once the Dutch Telecommunications building. The rooms and service are excellent.

As a general guide, I’d recommend friends to stay around the Kemang or Senopati area.



Mandala — This restaurant has been operating for five decades and is one of the best Chinese food you can find in South Jakarta.

Pagi Sore — Its specialty is in West Sumatran cuisine. The spread is huge and worth every calorie.

Chung Gi Wa — If it’s affordable Korean BBQ you’re after, this is the place to go.

Cikajang — You can’t say you’ve been to Jakarta without a taste of mee goreng. This street stall has the best instant noodles, which makes a good hangover cure after partying hard.



Papilion Duo — Located in the upscale Pacific Place mall, Papilion Duo offers a mix of international high-end and designer brands.

Jade Boutique — Jade is where the capital’s best dressed shop. The store’s extensive catalogue of premium designer brands includes Azzedine Alaia and Missoni and several exclusive labels.

The Goods Dept — If you’d rather shop local, The Goods Dept offers a wide array of fashion and lifestyle products from mostly young, independent designers.

ARA – A hub for emerging and established Indonesian fashion designers



Go to Kota Tua and explore the museums (Fatahillah Square). While you’re there, make a rest stop at Café Batavia and soak in its historic atmosphere.

Schedule a workout at a micro gym

Go island hopping around the Thousand Islands or “Pulau Seribu”, a cluster of almost 128 islands located in the Bay of Jakarta. Be sure to cover Tiger Island!


You can’t leave Jakarta without…

Sampling West Sumatran cuisine at a Padang Restaurant! Leave time in your itinerary for a trip to the hair salon. It’s so cheap here!


Images courtesy of Ayla Dimitri

The Evolution of Kids Fashion: Are we taking it too far?

Kid's Style | Travelshopa

Image: Styling the Tribe

Start a conversation with any parent about their kids and you’re likely to be riddled with lamentations along the lines of “They grow up too fast!” or “I remember when they were only THIS tall”. It’s a universal feeling, fuelled by an outpouring of protective instincts and the perceived loss of innocence before its time. So it’s no surprise that people are taking issue with the way kids dress nowadays.

3-year old girls sporting heels…boys in debonair suits and fedoras… It’s the only time the term “adulting” (to behave in an adult manner) comes to mind without it being satire. While some parents are gleefully playing dress-up with their kids, others are wagging their fingers and judging them for it.

Fashion and lifestyle rags were the first to hone in on this trend. Celebrity tykes such as Suri Cruise, Harper Beckham and Blue Ivy Carter are recurring features in fashion and entertainment magazines, often photographed with their stylish parents in trendy and ultra-coordinated outfits that belie their tender age.

Kid's Style | Travelshopa

The stylish kids of Seoul Fashion Week ’16
Images via Vogue

Pint-size fashion also stole the limelight at Seoul Fashion Week in March this year. Many of the guests were distracted by groups of kids hanging outside the tents, most of whom didn’t look a day past 5, decked in outfits even grown-ups would be envious of. From technical layers to miniature 8-eyelet Doc Marts style lace-ups, these kids’ knocked hipster dressing out of the park. More surprising perhaps is the fact that these weren’t the children of A-listers or front-row status fashion editors; many of them were “planted outside the shows by brands as part of an Instagram-led marketing strategy”, according to The Telegraph. While most fell prey to their cute charms, some like fashion blogger Susie Bubble revealed her sense of unease:

“It was so weird because they’d be like quite normally dressed parents (not that trendy looking), bringing their kids trussed up in these uber trendy, super co-ordinated outfits,” she tells The Telegraph. “And they’d be telling their kids to do cute things like pose, eat potato chips or play with their toys and generally play up to the cameras.”

Kid's Style | Travelshopa
Kid's Style | Travelshopa

Left: Mr Cory, Kids Fashion Blogger

It’s hard not to smile at the sight of well-dressed little tots, but soon, other thoughts start to creep in: Wouldn’t he or she feel stuffy in those layers? Aren’t those boots too heavy to run about in? Kids under 6 are living dynamos; this is probably the messiest and most active phase of their lives, and any outfit that requires more than your basic coordination would probably be too confining. Around age 3 is when gross motor development is running at a peak — just look at the how an adolescent lives for sand, paint, dirt and adventurous romps in the Great Outdoors and you’ll know what to do. Naturally, practicality and comfort rests uppermost among a list of concerns, including size, fit and affordability. Less fuss, less muss, we say. Uncomfortable clothing sends out the message that it’s more important that kids look good for other people rather than feel good and have fun.

The message that kids should dress for themselves is an important one. Many young kids watch their closest parental figures and model their sense of style after them. While it may be tempting for parents to turn their kids into tiny reproductions of themselves, it matters more for role models to create ample space and opportunity for kids to safely explore and form their own identity.

Kid's Style | Travelshopa
Kid's Style | Travelshopa

Left: Laerta, Luisa Fernanda Espinosa

Shop the story

 Why Are We Dressing Kids Like Tiny Adults | Opinion | Travelshopa
 Why Are We Dressing Kids Like Tiny Adults | Opinion | Travelshopa
 Why Are We Dressing Kids Like Tiny Adults | Opinion | Travelshopa

How shoppers can embrace the sharing economy

How Shoppers Can Embrace the Sharing Economy | 5 mins with | TravelshopaIn the age of “the sharing economy”, many have grown accustomed to the concept of resource sharing, as seen through the growing popularity of crowdfunding and services like Uber, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. More and more, shoppers are starting to agree that “access is the new ownership”, accelerated in part by the rapid depletion of Earth’s natural resources and rampant waste generation on an uncontainable scale. According to figures provided by fashion sustainability organisation, Connected Threads Asia, last year alone, Singapore generated 150,000 tonnes of garment and leather waste. That’s the equivalent of approximately 100 t-shirts per person. Rather than contribute to the constant cycle of consumption and waste, there are many ways consumers can embrace the sharing economy while staying in style.

The sharing economy thrives on the notion that ownership can sometimes prove extraneous, and even counter cost-effective. It enables owners to monetise their unloved assets, so instead of paying for something and discarding it before it has reached the end of its term or letting it wither away in a state of neglect, owners can obtain some value from their purchase by swapping or renting or reselling. After all, why pay $500 for a dress you’ll only wear once or twice when you can rent it for one-time use at a fraction of the price? It makes as much sense to hoard unused clothes and accessories when you could very easily turn them into cash or swap them for something you’d actually wear.

Current technology provides the supporting architecture for such marketplace interactions, allowing users and owners to buy, sell, rent and trade with ease. But while consumers are increasingly open to renting a locally owned resort villa in Bali via Airbnb or booking an Uber drive on any ordinary day, the pick-up has been significantly slower in the fashion sector. Sure, transacting with clothing can be tricky, especially with sizing and fit concerns but there is a sizeable crowd of fashion startups and businesses that are making closet-sharing a viable option.


Fashion rental services

Fashion rental services address a couple of snags for shoppers who are trend-conscious yet don’t want to rack up a huge fashion bill on expensive designer fashion. Many have taken to borrowing items from Rent A Dress and Style Lease  — fashion rental businesses that lease designer pieces on a pay per use basis. For instance, Singapore-based Rent A Dress offers access to a constantly updated inventory of on-trend designer pieces from the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, Herve Leger, Three Floor, Monique Lhuillier and many more. Majority of them, including Style Lease provide value-added services along with rental, adding private fitting sessions and professional style advice to their suite of services. Dry cleaning and maintenance is all taken care of, allowing customers a pleasant and hassle-free experience. Mums-to-be reluctant to invest in maternity wear may like to consider Maternity Exchange, a maternity wear boutique that offers the option of renting or purchasing. Given the short-term nature of demand for maternity wear, it’s a natural fit for the rental market.

 How Shoppers Can Embrace the Sharing Economy | 5 mins with | Travelshopa
 How Shoppers Can Embrace the Sharing Economy | 5 mins with | Travelshopa


Buy secondhand

In case some of us don’t want to put a full stop on buying itself, buying secondhand is the next best option. Peer to peer marketplaces such as Ebay and Carousell make it easy for owners to sell their preloved items to eager and willing buyers, but dishonest dealers, counterfeit goods and fraud are not regulated and could still marr the experience. In comparison, secondhand luxury retailers such as StyleTribute and Poshmark are safer bets. As part of their user guarantee, all items listed on StyleTribute have been inspected and authenticated before being put up for sale, and it even offers 7-day free returns should you not be satisfied with your purchase. Want to sell your stuff but want to spare yourself the effort of crafting the perfect listing? StyleTribute’s White Glove Service takes care of everything — they’ll pick up the clothes (free with 10 items or more), create the listing and pay you a 70 to 75 percent commission once it sells.


Swapping is the new shopping

Stuck with a spilling wardrobe? Are your years’ worth of accumulated clothing starting to get in your way? Swapping could just be your answer. Swapping events are a great way to declutter and revitalise your wardrobe and brings back the joy of raiding your best friend or sister’s closet. Cast off any thoughts of a crusty jumble sale, modern day swap parties are as fun as they sound and we’ve got one coming your way. Singapore-based fashion sustainability organisation Connected Threads Asia will be hosting their annual clothes swap on September 18. For many, it’s a chance to go footloose with fashion while engaging in ethical and sustainability issues. Last year’s clothes swap saw over 100 participants of all ages and walks of life, and close to 800 garments being swapped. Through this fun activity, swappers hopefully will spare more thought for the items in their wardrobes and their garment consumption patterns before endorsing a throwaway culture. Scroll to the bottom for more details on the upcoming clothes swap.

How Shoppers Can Embrace the Sharing Economy | 5 mins with | Travelshopa



Clothes Swap

When: Sunday, Sep 18, 2016 | 3 – 7pm

Where: Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996

Organised by Connected Threads Asia, participants are invited, a month in advance, to hand in their gently-worn clothes (no tears, stains or loose attachments) to the organiser at designated locations in exchange for a voucher.  With this voucher, participants can swap for the same number of items on the day of the swap.

i) Connect with your clothes

This time around participants will tag their items with the stories about the clothes, as well as photograph them and upload to social media. These stories will help us understand the fashion choices we make and the connections we have with our clothes.

ii) Reconnect Through Repair & Alterations

Participants will be able to learn how to repair their clothes at the Repair Kopitiam booth, be it a torn shirt, worn out jeans or misaligned zipper. If any of their swapped clothes need slight adjustments, we will also have people on hand to make the minor alterations.

Find out more on Facebook |  Instagram.


Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics

Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa

Heath Ceramics might have scaled the heights of global success, but the company remains a champion for local, small-batch manufacturing in the US. The company was founded in 1948 by enterprising ceramicist Edith Heath and her husband Brian in Sausalito, California. Driven by Edith’s experimentation with clays and glazes, Heath flourished as a pottery turning out high-quality ceramic tableware prized for their modern lines and functional, avant-garde designs.

When the celebrated San Francisco ceramic institution faced danger of being forgotten, new owners Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic — both former design consultants — stepped in to kindle a revival. They had chanced upon the old Heath factory while exploring their new neighbourhood of Sausalito and immediately saw the potential to turn Heath’s legacy into a viable, values-driven business. They purchased the property from Edith Heath, retaining the 24 employees still working in the factory at the time.

Together, Catherine and Robin charted a slow but steady route to growth by streamlining the original offerings and adding new products while preserving the timeworn practices of Edith’s era. Even today, the low-fire kilns in the factory are the same ones Brian Heath built in the 1950s, and the tableware and tiles are crafted in much the same way they have always been.

Today, Heath Ceramics employs close to 200 people, and along with the original Sausalito factory, has opened a store and showroom in Los Angeles, a store in San Francisco’s Ferry Building and most recently, a state of the art tile factory, retail space, and design studio in the Mission neighbourhood of San Francisco. The business operates like a self-sufficient ecosystem, with every step of the manufacturing process — from conceptualization to design to retail — embedded within the factory complex.

We find out what it takes to rebuild a company with a history like Heath’s, and how owners Catherine and Robin continue to stay ahead of the curve.

Tell us more about your initiation into the world of ceramics. Where did your appreciation for ceramics begin?

My first love of ceramics was the American mid-century industrial forms that I learned about in college, Russell Wright’s work for Steubenveille and Iroquois and Eva Zeisal’s work for Hall. I found the forms and colors beautiful, and I collected a ton of Eva Zeisal’s fantasy pattern that I mix in with the Heath I have today.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in New Jersey, a town called Holmdel. It was home to Bell Labs, which was housed in a fantastic big glass box Saarinen building set among sprawling landscaping. My dad worked there so it made a big impression on me.

Let’s rewind to your discovery of the original Heath factory in 2003… What struck you about the building and how did you arrive at the decision to purchase Heath Ceramics?

The building had interesting bones, clearly mid-century lines and really interesting indoor/outdoor intent, but it was quite overrun with decades of accumulated stuff, and it was hard to tell what was interesting and what was junk. The most amazing thing was that the people and machines that it housed were still working every day. The business was going to close if someone did not buy it and figure out how to make it viable in 2003. We were tired of our existing jobs (design consulting) and wanted to do something more holistic and Heath seems like an ambitious but exciting challenge!

Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa
Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa
Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa

Tell us a little about growing Heath into what it is today.

In 2003, there were 25 people at Heath, today there are 200. It’s a wonderful size, and we like the scale we’re at now: big enough to make an impact in terms of how we want to do business, but small enough to keep all the integrity in our products and keep running the business ourselves.

How do you balance the need for preservation — to honour the Heath legacy — with the drive to innovate?

This is never really a challenge. If something is beautiful we keep it in the line, and we don’t worry about innovating; we just continue to make products that we think are beautiful. We love experimenting with glazes in our existing line and we now have a clay studio so we are constantly doing new work. In our shops you’ll see a lot of one of a kind work along side production pieces. And we continue to keep exploring design in other mediums outside of ceramics, less in terms of innovation and more in terms of what feels right to us.

Tell us a little about each of your design personalities. What kind of challenges comes with rebuilding a company as a married couple?

The challenges are more in communication and keeping each other up on the details. In terms of our values and the overall aesthetic, we’re a good match, and we always agree.

Do you feel there’s been an increasing interest in pottery in recent years? Why do you think that is?

Yes, it’s exciting to see so many potters popping up. The work is really varied: some inspires us, and some is derivative but more people making things is very positive.

Your co-authored book, “Tile Makes the Room” launched last year. What sparked the idea for this book?

There are lots of great books about tile as an object, but very few about tile and its role in creating wonderful spaces. This book is about opening peoples’ eyes to the potential of tile, to understand more of the ways it can be used to create wonderful spaces.

Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa
Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa

Heath has been a great supporter of creative collaboration between makers, artists and designers. Can you tell us a little about these collaborations?

We collaborate with people we’ve had long relationships with. We almost never dive in and start making products with other people unless we’ve known each other for while. Collaborations like the dinnerware with Alabama Chanin and the clocks with House Industries are inspiring and successful because we each bring something different to the table, and we design things together. To us, a collaboration is not us making someone else’s design, it’s about working out the concept, design and details together to create something that neither of us would do on our own.

Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

Working with the design team on new ideas, developing ideas and palettes for glazes.

What would be the best response you could hope to elicit from someone who has experienced a Heath product?

It’s beautiful, timeless, I can see and feel the touch of the hand in it, and I love it.

How have you arranged your work and living spaces to make yourselves feel inspired?

Though our home is a great source of inspiration and trying out new ideas (We’ve got many tile installations in our house, and it’s a constantly evolving creative space), we have a really wonderful studio and hang out space in our San Francisco facility. It’s actually our office, and a great place to shut out all the distracting “noise” as well as feel connected to Heath’s creative work and the city of San Francisco.

What do you like to do in your downtime?

I spend a lot of time designing spaces, houses, and offices. It’s satisfying. I spend a lot of time at work helping guide them on what we should and should not do, that it’s nice to sit down and sketch spaces and small ideas. We also spend a lot of time in Tahoe, in the woods, hiking, skiing, and really getting far away from city life.

What are you working on now and what are you looking forward to in the near future?

We’re excited about our Heath Designs initiative, where we are branching out beyond ceramics in ways both expected and unexpected. I’m also looking forward to a new line of furniture made for Heath by a local design company called Jacob May, our Winter Seasonal collection (we have two new limited edition collections each year) and our annual Heath Clay Studio Show which we’ll be holding in November of this year.

Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa
Catherine Bailey, Heath Ceramics | Interview | Travelshopa

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