Meet the Locals On Your Next Vacation

in Tips

We’re all told to chat to the locals to enjoy an authentic experience on vacation. But how does one meet a local? They’re not in the queue for the popular tourist attractions, or drinking at the kitschy pubs. This article suggests ways you can make contact with the residents of your next holiday hot spot.

For many of us the connections are made before we start our journey. The internet makes it very easy to forge friendships with folks abroad. Spend time interacting on travel forums and blogs. Look outside your usual sphere on social networking sites and comment on the posts of friends of friends. And if you’re really game, why not try couchsurfing? Staying with a friendly local you’ve met online is a great door to an authentic vacation experience.

Once you arrive, make sure you ditch your guidebook. These travel books are handy for tourists who want to tick all the usual boxes, but not so great for anyone looking to immerse themself in local culture. The residents aren’t dining at the restaurants featured in its pages, or partying at its nightspots. You’re more likely to stumble across friendly locals by exploring the city at your leisure. Don’t forget the back streets!

Give a wide berth to anywhere that looks like it caters for tourists. Stores selling souvenirs should be avoided. If you’re visiting a non-English speaking country, restaurants with English menus should also be missed. You’ll likely pay more for a watered-down version of local culture and the only people you’ll strike up a conversation with will be other travelers.

Remember that restaurants aren’t the only places to find food either. While they’re staples for tourists, they’re an occasional treat for locals. Instead the residents source their food from bustling markets and supermarkets. If you do too you can strike up a conversation, and grab some interesting local ingredients for your dinner. If you’re lucky, you might even score an invite for a home-cooked meal!

Keep your ear to the ground and listen out for news of local festivals. These events bring the town together and encourage locals to socialize. Their party atmosphere is provides the perfect opportunity for making new friends. Many also offer a full day’s entertainment for free!

After a busy day it can be tempting to retire to your accommodation. Resist the urge though, because making connections is easiest once the sun goes down and the alcohol is flowing. The locals are probably winding down after a hectic day at work, and chatting to someone from abroad is a great distraction from the nine to five. If you’re lucky you might score an invite to a cool gallery opening ormusical performance that’s a tourist-free zone.

handshakeIf your attempts at friendliness don’t work, don’t sweat it. Some country’s residents prefer to keep to themselves, while others are more welcoming. If you find yourself alone at least take comfort in the knowledge you did your best to socialize.

Rubbing shoulders with the locals will give you a different perspective on your dream holiday hotspot. You’ll learn about the city’s real culture, and probably avoid those high tourist prices as well!

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