Top Five Reasons to Meet Locals

1. Social Connection

The truth is, traveling is a life-changing experience regardless if you travel with friends or Chris-McCandless-Into-The-Wild, solo style. However, you always seem to find something extra meaningful when you share those travel experiences with interesting and like-minded strangers. Human beings are social creatures by nature, and the more social connections we make, the more fulfilment we find through our adventures. After all, locals are the heart and soul of a city, so it can be infinitely rewarding to dig deeper into their stories, and discover how your paths interconnect.

2. Insider’s Tips

Meeting up with a local means you essentially have a free guide to all of the city’s local spots with the best bars and the authentic restaurants!

Travelers, as opposed to tourists, are always searching for the authentic corners of a city, where to find the real ma and pa cuisine, what secret places hide off-the-beaten tourist bus path, and what’s the scoop on local events, festivals, bars, celebrations, and parties that reflect the genuine spirit of the culture. What better source can you find then someone who has first-hand experience?  You can read up on travel journalists all you like, but they will not know the city’s ins and outs like someone who has lived there, who is an active member of the community, and who cares for their hometown like they would their family pet. Thus locals are the best free guides out there. But after you’ve been given a tour, make sure to give something back!  Offer to buy them their favorite beer at their favorite bar they shared with you, or something else to show your appreciation!

 

3. Cultural Knowledge

Any location’s social norms are dependent on the given culture. By meeting up with a local you can ask any question you’re unsure about, observe some of their own behaviors to mimic in social or public settings, and thus gain a deeper cultural knowledge.  In some countries women dress more or less conservatively then others, and in some countries the typical meal times may be later or earlier then others, discover these differences and save yourself possible embarrassment later!

 

4. Language Experience

Practicing your language skills with native speakers is the fastest way to becoming fluent yourself.  While you may not need to know a lick of French while you stay in a French hostel, since so many hostels offer multi-lingual staff as an extra convenience, meeting up with a French local would provide you a beneficial opportunity to sharpen your spoken skill and force you to exercise your foreign tongue.  Not only that, but speaking a local’s language is the best way to learn the local slang.  That’s something you just can’t pick up from a mere language dictionary!

 

5. Get the Low-Down

While travel maps can give you all of the information you need to navigate a city, they will not give you insight into the safety conditions of each area aka the women-should-definitely-not-walk-here-alone-at-night areas, the areas that are high-risk for pick-pocketing, or which street is the unofficial red-light district. Besides giving you the dish on where the fault lines of the bad and good sides of town meet, locals can also give you the real price of a taxi, or what you should actually be paying for a tapestry from a market stall after bartering.  Locals have the knowledge you need to expose the truth behind the tourist tags.

 

Find out more about the local Travel Movement at Triptrotting.com and here.

Top five reasons to meet locals - travel the social way - image by David Niblack

Top five reasons to meet locals - travel the social way


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