Whether it is a city tour of London, a two-week backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, or a month-long sojourn in Brazil and other South American countries, getting to know one or two locals will help make the experience more fun and authentic. They can recommend places to visit or stay at and even show you some hidden gems within their city or country. However, meeting a local can be a bit difficult. While your intentions may be good, you don’t know who you will be dealing with. The same feeling can be felt by any local; imagine a tourist, a foreigner, approaching you out of nowhere. You cannot easily trust someone you just met and who intends to stay for a very short period of time. With that said, there are many websites now that help travelers get to know local people even before they foot on a new travel destination.
Reddit is mostly a forum of sorts and it can be a source of a lot of information for many things but there are Reddit groups that talk about their experiences in a particular place or city, and you can chat with locals within the website too.
Like Reddit, quora is another website that is just brimming with all sorts of information about anything under the sun. There are quora groups that specialize in a particular culture or country so join one and you’ll see that there are a lot of travelers that engage in all sorts of discussion about a lot of topics. Locals tend to be chatty and really like to promote their home country. Strike up a conversation and ask any question about your travel plans, such as the best hotel to check-in or a restaurant that is within walking distance of your accommodations.
EatWith provides you with a unique dining experience wherever you go in their list of 150 cities around the world. All you have to do is choose your destination, choose what your meal or host, and then sign up on their website! This concept allows you to enjoy a home-cooked meal that will be much more affordable than one that is cooked in a restaurant, plus you’ll be dining with fellow travelers and locals too!
CouchSurfing has been around for some time now and it allows travelers to interact with locals even before arriving. CouchSurfing was originally intended to be a site where one can find free accommodations (this is ideal for backpackers) but the site has a wide range of other offers such as group events, meetups, and the opportunity to have a local to show you around the city.
Let’s not forget social media websites such as Facebook, where one can meet and chat with locals. On Facebook, there are groups that specialize in tourists visiting a particular country. Here you can find all sorts of discussions and questions that locals would happily answer for you. The beauty of Facebook is that you can also check out the person’s profile to learn more about them.
Meeting locals whenever you travel can make your experience a whole lot better. Before you even meet someone, do take precautions always. Even if you have been chatting for some time, only agree to meet at public places first. You have to remember that always be vigilant of your surroundings. There is nothing wrong with turning down an invitation if you don’t feel comfortable about it. What matters is that you have a fun time while you travel!