Vacations can easily become all about the tourist traps: churros, trinkets, lines, and very expensive burgers. But if you want to get away from all of that and really see a place for what it is, you have to pull yourself back from the tourist crowd and go meet some locals. Honestly, meeting locals isn’t that hard! All you need are some strategies and a little bit of friendly conversation. Here are the best ways to meet tourists while on vacation.
1 Take a Taxi
You can meet at least one local every time you take a taxi. Although this won’t get you chatting with crowds of residents, it will give you the chance to talk with your driver and find out what the locals like and where they go. In general, taxi drivers are more than happy to help you find what you’re looking for. Ask for a chance to get to know the culture, and the driver is usually proud to introduce you to all the best local places! If you want to meet locals on vacation, start with a taxi driver. Prefer Uber? Uber drivers are a well of local info, too.
2 Take a Bus
This is essentially the same concept, but it has a slightly different purpose. You can certainly talk to the bus driver to learn about the best locals spots, but on a bus, you’ll also have the chance to talk to other bus riders. Sit next to someone and strike up a conversation. Also, buses are usually a great way to go to the parts of town that locals go. If you want to get into local areas and out of tourist areas, a bus is often your ticket.
3 Eat Local
Ask a local where you can find a good place to get local food, and then go there. If it’s filled with locals and not tourists, then you’re in the right place. Depending on the culture and time of day, you might be able to meet locals in the restaurants. Otherwise, you’ll still have the opportunity to talk to the staff.
4 Go to a Local Bar
If you’re alone or with a group of adults, go drink socially in a local bar. Sit at the bar and talk with anyone sitting around you. Go at the time of day when people get off work, and you’ll have the chance to meet locals as they relax and unwind.
5 Find Out what Locals Do for Fun
I can guarantee that locals do not take pricey excursions very often. After all, do you go on tours of your own city? Of course not! In your town, you know all the inexpensive places to go have fun. So find those types of places at your destination. If you’re in the Caribbean, go surfing instead of diving. You’re sure to meet locals who ride the waves daily! If you’re near a small town, go to festivals in the park rather than bus tours. You’ll join the locals on their evening of fun! If you’re in an agricultural area, go to the farmer’s market and not the souvenir shops. You get the idea.
6 Slow Down
It’s easy to be on the go constantly while you’re on vacation, especially if you like to see and do a lot. But if you want to meet locals, you need to slow down and give yourself a chance to meet some people. You’ll probably find that the most memorable experiences from your vacation are unscheduled adventures.
7 Take Private Tours
If you go on tours, take private tours. This way, you’ll have your local guide all to yourself! Take advantage of this so you can ask lots of questions and become acquainted with your guide. Some cities even offer free walking tours by locals who are enthusiastic about sharing their city with visitors.
8 Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
Whether you use Airbnb or just a local booking, staying at a bed and breakfast allows you to spend time with your local hosts. You can get to know the area and maybe even do a little networking through your hosts. Hosts vary as to how much they interact with their guests; with Airbnb the descriptions usually indicate this.
9 Be Outdoorsy
People to tend to spend their time exploring the outdoor environs of their communities. Get outside and get active! Find people fishing, walking, and just hanging out in nature. Pack a basketball or soccer ball and head to a park—maybe you’ll be able to start a pickup game with local residents.
10 Go to a Gym
If there are local gyms at your destination, go take a class or get a day pass. You’ll be sure to meet plenty of locals as you join them for some calorie burning. Besides, going to the gym is a great way to burn off that delicious local food and feel healthy and energized while traveling! Why not try an exercise class that is popular in the area? Zumba, yoga, and dance are all great ways to meet people and have fun while on vacation.
Many people spend their weekends volunteering in their community. Do some research ahead of time and find out if there are places at your destination that take short-term volunteers. Maybe you can join a city clean-up day, or perhaps you could spend a couple hours volunteering at a local animal shelter. Volunteering gives you a sense of the community and helps you become a part of it. Locals will be interested to talk to you and will be impressed that you appreciate their community enough to help improve it.
The best part of travel is meeting new people and experiencing different cultures and societies. Almost anywhere you go you’ll find plenty of friendly locals who are proud to share their hometowns with you. Take a step outside of the tourist zone and find the real deal when you follow these tips to meet locals on your next vacation.