The Adventurer's Guide
How To Make Friends With A Local
Locals know best. If you really want to get a feel for the new city you’re in, you’ve got to get in with the insiders. Why? Find out about spots tourists don’t know about, learn and practice the language, and maybe even have people to visit when you come back. Whether exploring solo, studying abroad, or just looking to get social during a vacation, here are five surefire ways to keep yourself surrounded with good people anywhere in the world.
This runs counterintuitive to every other tip we’ll give you, but your phone is a great way to find like-minded travelers. Apps like Tripr and BeWelcome introduce you to natives with home-city expertise. Mealsharing.com pairs tourists with locals eager to welcome you into their living quarters for a home-cooked meal. And of course there’s Tinder and Bumble, dating apps that you can set you up for a “blind” date or a friendly drink — or you can try Tinder Social or Bumble BFF, which match groups together for a fun night out. So, when in Wifi, use the tech to your advantage. But then, when it’s time to get out there in the real world, put that phone down!
Traveling alone — it can scare the bejeezus outta ya! But ask anyone who’s solo traveled, and they’ll tell you something surprising: When you travel alone, you’re hardly alone. Think about it: People are everywhere! All you have to do is approach the right ones and start a conversation. So go grab a meal alone or sit in the park by yourself. Then, take a chance and approach someone. What’s the worst that can happen? (They ignore you — on to the next!) Be friendly, ask lots of questions, say yes to opportunities, and for the love of travel, put down your phone!
BE a local
Ever spot someone who you can just tell is from another country. When you’re away, it’s time to forget the comforts of home. You’re in a new country, after all. Find the cuisine or the drinks you just can’t get at home. If you can, dress the part. Do a little shopping and find out what fashion trends are on point for the city you’re in. Most of all, smile! Nobody wants to befriend someone that looks miserable. So be upbeat and appear approachable. You know, like you belong.
Learn the language
This can be one of the most intimidating parts of visiting a new country. How are you supposed to approach a local when you can’t even communicate with them?! Trick question — Don’t. First, learn the dialect, even if just a few words and common phrases. Hello, how are you? Are you from here? I like your shirt! Having the confidence to blurt out a few questions or compliments in the local verbiage will open up new doors for you and make you comfortable enough to make new friends. Bonus: The local will admire your courage, befriend you, and teach you all sorts of new words!
Join a tour
Not all of us are brave enough to approach a strange person or group completely out of the blue. And that’s okay! Ease into things by joining a tour group. What’s on your to do list for the city you’re in? Sign up for that museum tour or go on that pub crawl. You’ll be immediately exposed to locals and other travelers and you’ll have an immediate common interest and a bunch of great conversation starters.