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Some years ago Alexander McCall Smith started to write a serial novel, “44 Scotland Street,” set in Edinburgh. “In this series—now in its ninth volume—I wanted to explain why it was that this city should so beguile those who come to know it, why each morning makes me feel as if I am waking up to a continuing love affair with the place in which I live.”

For travelers looking to immerse themselves in a destination’s traditions and ways of life, homestays are a perfect entry point. They are the very definition of local travel, getting visitors on the ground as soon as possible and plunging them into the deep end of a new place.

Avid traveler and Venezuelan national Andreina Pantin moved to Panama in 2009, and has been exploring the ins and outs of its capital city ever since. Adreina believes that “to love a place, it is important to know it, its people, and its culture,” and practices what she preaches by blogging about her ongoing discoveries in and around Panama City. Here are a few of her favorite things about the cultural crossroads she calls home.

Like other devices that drive our life, today’s campers are smaller, more eco-friendly, and can be controlled by a tablet. “The RV has become a kind of app for modern peripatetic life,” says James Twitchell, author of 2014’s “Winnebago Nation.” “A whole new demographic is driving the market.”

Planning a roots travel trip can yield rewarding, and surprising, results. “For some people, the thrill of just being there is enough,” says Marion Hager, owner of genealogy travel company Hager’s Journeys. Here’s how she says you can get the most out of a trip.

Nat Geo Travel associate producer Megan Heltzel recently returned from a trip to Music City. Here are some of the high points of her trip to the Tennessee capital, in her own words.

The Wolves of Yellowstone

If you’re looking for wolves, Yellowstone is a good place. And winter provides the best odds of seeing them.

“No matter how successful you are or what you have seen, you can’t be jaded when you walk in your ancestors’ footsteps,” says genealogy expert Megan Smolenyak. “Getting there requires a great deal of patience and detective work, but I can assure you, it’s well worth it.” Here are eight steps to get you started from National Geographic’s new book “Journeys Home.”

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in March.

Travel literature. What is it? Memoirs detailing a life-changing trip to the Amazon, fiction that makes its setting a major character, nonfiction that asks its readers to consider a familiar destination in a new light—all of these fall under the travel literature umbrella. And personal preferences are just as varied. Here are a few favorites from Nat Geo Travel staffers.

Avid traveler Risto Kuulasmaa has explored monasteries in Bhutan, trekked across deserts in the Middle East, hiked across Iceland, and then some. Despite his wanderlust, the Scandinavian television producer has proudly called the “hassle-free, pocket-size metropolis” of Helsinki home for the past 12 years. Here are a few of Risto’s favorite things about Finland’s capital city.

Travel Lately—a roundup of the best new dispatches from the travel blogosphere—is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. You can play, too. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web.

There are people who, if dropped in the middle of the woods, would see nothing but the glory of the forest, the colors in the foliage, and the beauty of the ground beneath their feet. Cheryl Strayed I am not.

Chicago is as famous for Wrigley Field and deep-dish pizza as it is for its neighborhoods. See the Windy City in style by making one of these boutique hotels your home base.

National Geographic Traveler editor at large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips. Here’s his latest advice.

For writers who despair when a story doesn’t start smoothly or when the words don’t flow, I thought it might be helpful to relate the journey of my most recent story, which was about a one-week stay in Cambodia, and which ended up taking me a month to write.

The sharing economy requires sharing—with real people. That can be a peril, especially for those who need to maximize time, but it’s mostly a plus.

March 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of National Geographic’s cartographic division—which has created maps, globes, and atlases of the ocean floor, the night sky, and everywhere in between. Here are a few highlights from our map-making history.

Despite her many travels, Melissa Mederos cannot imagine calling any place but Miami home. The Magic City native is as up for an urban adventure as she is for exploring the abundant natural splendor that surrounds her city (think the Everglades and the Keys). Here are a few of Melissa’s favorite things about her hometown paradise.

Throwback Travel: New Orleans

Canal Street, 1952. Golden-age New Orleans. With roughly 600,000 residents, the city counted itself an urban heavyweight, and its grand boulevard reflected its muscle. Plotted as a shipping channel following the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, Canal Street held water in name only, becoming the demarcation line between the French Vieux Carré and New Orleans’s growing Anglophone neighborhoods. Part Times Square, part…

A landscape sliced by streets where horse-drawn carriages roll by and locals go about their daily errands on foot or bicycle may call to mind a bygone era. But, in fact, a journey to a simpler time is exactly what many car-free islands in Europe offer amid the clamor of modern life.

Not all volunteerism projects are created equal. But giving back when gallivanting around the globe can be one of the most rewarding experiences a traveler can hope for. If you’ve been kicking around the idea of joining the growing ranks of travelers volunteering around the world, here are five steps to help get you started.…

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer. Here’s her latest advice.

Just Back: Lisbon

Traveler editorial assistant and California native Kevin Kunitake recently made his first hop across the pond. Where did he land? Portugal. In addition to the trip being his first to Europe, it also marked his debut as a solo traveler. And compact, friendly Lisbon ended up being the perfect introduction to both. Here are some of the high…

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer. Here’s her latest advice.