I know interacting and participating with the local host community can enhance a person’s travel experience.  But, can actually traveling with locals (same van, same hot sun) add to the discovery and understanding of a travel destination and its people?  Could it even benefit all parties involved in some way?

We just had Jordanian university students, who are studying tourism, join a group of American university students on three days of their trip in Jordan.

Here is what we were thinking:

Our guests get to interact with the local community, put a face and name to real Arabs, and see Jordan from a perspective that may not be seen without local involvement.

In return, the Jordanian students have a venue to be empowered with hands on practical experience from what they are learning about tourism in school. Their cultural identity in being Arab, Muslim, Christian, Jordanian or Palestinian could be strengthened through sharing their lives and experiences with foreign travelers.  Could such an experience even add to their future marketability in the tourism industry?

What do you think?  Would having locals join a trip benefit a travel experience?