us in Arusha, Tanzania

How to make local friends while traveling

There’s no better way to explore the world than by hitting the road solo. Not only does traveling on your own give you the freedom to make your own itinerary, but it also allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and open up to new experiences. One of those new experiences is making friends with locals who can help you immerse yourself in their culture, learn about their way of life, and discover hidden gems that you wouldn’t find in guidebooks. In this guide, we’ll share some tips on how to make local friends while traveling and get the most out of your trip.

1. Pay attention to who is sitting next to you on the airplane

One of the easiest ways to make a local connection is to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the airplane. You never know who you might meet, and they may have some great tips for things to see and do in their city or town.

2. Use public transport

Public transport is a great way to interact with locals and get a feel for their daily routines. Strike up a conversation with someone who looks interesting or ask for their recommendations of where to go and what to see.

3. Stay in Airbnbs

Rather than choosing a tourist hotel or hostel, opt for a local Airbnb stay. This way, you’ll be sharing a home with a local, giving you a chance to interact with them and learn about their way of life. They may even show you around and introduce you to some of their friends.

4. Join a local sports class

Sports classes, such as yoga or dance, are a fantastic way to meet locals and make new friends. You’ll be surrounded by people who share the same interests as you, and it’s a great way to stay active while on the road.

5. Stay in one place for a longer period of time

Rather than trying to cram in as many destinations as possible, stay in one place for a longer period of time. This gives you the opportunity to truly get to know the local community, make lasting friendships, and experience the city or town in depth.

6. Stay away from tourist hotspots

Tourist hotspots can be overwhelming, and the locals tend to be jaded by the constant influx of visitors. Instead, explore lesser-known areas, where the locals are more likely to be genuine and interested in connecting with travelers.

I found that by staying away from popular tourist hotspots my travel expereince got so much more geniuene.

7. Make time to meet people

This sound like common sense but the excitement of being at new place and wanting to see it all, often keeps us from leaving room to do nothing and just chat and get to know people. While it’s exciting to see all the sights and activities, it’s equally important to make time to meet new people. Take a break from the tourist hustle and bustle and spend some time chatting with locals in cafes, parks, or other public spaces.

8. Take part in cultural activities

Participating in cultural activities, such as festivals or local ceremonies, is a great way to meet locals and immerse yourself in the local culture. You’ll get a firsthand experience of the local customs and traditions, and you’ll meet people who are just as passionate about them as you are.

9. Use social media

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with locals, especially platforms like Couchsurfing and Meetup. You can join local groups and events, and even find a travel partner to explore the area with.

me at Jouvert in Jamaica
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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. Mark Twain

Traveling solo can be daunting, but it’s a great opportunity to experience new cultures and make lasting connections. By following these simple tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to making local friends while traveling. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, engage with locals, and try new things. Who knows, you may just make a friend for life and have a unique and authentic travel experience. Happy travels!

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