Is it foolish to follow the advice of locals?

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It's a classic travel tip: When searching for a great restaurant, cool bar, scenic park, boutique shop, or anything else, get the input of a local. Is this an awful approach?

Budget Travel has always recommended experiencing destinations like the locals do. That includes visiting "Times Square Like a Local," exploring towns such as New Orleans like a local, and even drinking beer like a local in U.S. cities and drinking liquor like a local all over the world. And of course, with a longstanding series of "Eat Like a Local" stories, we heartily endorse the concept of dining wherever the locals dine.

But in a post for American Express's Get Currency blog, Matt Gross -- the former New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist who had many fans here at BT -- argues that asking locals for advice is often a bad move. He explains:

Locals are just as likely as anyone else to have bad food preferences, poor taste in clothing, and delusional ideas about the places they live in. What's more, they won't necessarily understand what you, a visitor to their hometown, really want to get out of your experience. When I was in Ireland last year, I kept asking locals -- from hotel clerks to random strangers on the street -- where to get some of the interesting Irish cheeses I knew were out there. And those locals kept sending me to Tesco, the British supermarket chain.

What's your take? When you're traveling, do you ask locals for tips on where to eat, shop, or hang out?

And most importantly, does the advice you've gathered from locals tend to be good or bad?


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