A big part of travelling abroad is becoming immersed in another culture, and there’s no better way to do that than through getting to know the locals. If you’re traveling alone, then connecting with locals has an obvious purpose: It allows you to break up the peaceful solitary experiences with some conversation and companionship. But even if you’re travelling with a partner or group, meeting locals can be a practical and fun way to get tips and fully experience your destination. Since just walking up to people and introducing yourself can be a little awkward for those who aren’t too outgoing, the team at AirportPreCheck.org has gathered together some top ways to meet locals while traveling abroad.
By now, many are familiar with Airbnb, which has become a popular alternative to staying at hotels. The site allows vetted hosts to rent out rooms or entire units to guests. Those travelling abroad who would like to meet locals can look for Airbnb rentals that have a host or local co-host on the premises. These folks can offer recommendations and advice or answer any specific questions you may have about the local area.
Couchsurfing is kind of like Airbnb without the cost and accoutrements. The Couchsurfing website and app provide a place for 12 million registered members to connect. Hosting members share their homes with others in need of a place to stay on the cheap. The program does not allow hosts to charge fees and relies instead on generosity and communal spirit. Picky guests might have to lower their expectations if they were shaped by Airbnb’s standards of quality. When Couchsurfing, guests are very likely to end up staying on a sofa or air mattress. However, the no-cost policy means that hosts are especially friendly and inclined to help you out as a local guide. Couchsurfing members are around in all countries, in over 200,000 cities worldwide. Those interested in Couchsurfing can set up a profile on the site free of charge and get in touch with hosts in the area they plan to visit. Users can also use the program to meetup with non-host locals in the area. The team at AirportPreCheck.org recommends taking some time to craft an appealing, unique and honest user profile that captures the attention of likeminded hosts.
ToursByLocals provides a platform for travelers and qualified tour guides to find one another. The online company handpicks local tour guides, who must submit a detailed application and undergo a rigorous background check before they can be approved to work through the company. Travelers interested in connecting with a local, friendly tour guide can head to the ToursByLocals site and look through available locations in order to check out the offerings.
Today, most people use Uber or Lyft for everyday purposes. The team at AirportPreCheck.org suggests using these and other rideshare services while abroad as a practical way to talk to locals. If you have a friendly driver, ask him or her about food recommendations, the local culture and anything else that you’re curious about. It’s a great way to break up the ride for passenger and driver. The team at AirportPreCheck.org suggests conducting an internet search for rideshare programs available in the area, as some places may have low-cost or free alternatives.
EatWith allows people looking for a home-cooked meal to sit down at the home table of a qualified chef. Currently, EatWith works with 650 host chefs, many of whom host dinners on their evenings off from top restaurants, in over 200 cities worldwide. Before they are approved, EatWith chefs must apply, host a demonstration meal and go through some training. Before you travel to your destination abroad, see if any EatWith chefs are available in that area during your time of stay. Sitting down with other guests in the comfort of a local culinary artist’s home can provide a much more intimate, authentic and locally flavored experience than going to a restaurant. The chef will join you for dinner and will be happy to not only tell you about the meal’s ingredients and preparation, but also about its local history. The team at AirportPreCheck.org recommends previewing the menu before registering to make sure that meal offers local cuisine options.