Lately, I've been getting really involved in the travel blogging community via conferences, online courses and Facebook groups designed to unite blogger and share information and tips on how to be better bloggers. I've found the community to be full of so many talented, passionate, ambitious and above all else friendly folks! I even ended up flying to Texas to spend a week hanging out with Kristina from www.kristinaperdida.com to brainstorm on ways we can work together and we had an absolute blast!
I was fortunate enough to be offered some guest post opportunities on other bloggers sites and today it's my pleasure to post a piece written by Dereck from www.trekwithderk.com.
Only 17 years old, Dereck has impressed me with his maturity and dedication to his blog which focuses on connecting with locals while abroad to have more authentic travel experiences. I was initially drawn to Dereck's blog as he has a pretty interesting story that involves accompanying his father to his homeland of Guatemala when his great-grandfather had fallen ill (read the story here). There, he chronicles the journey of discovering his own heritage and falling in love with Guatemala, which as most of you know is the place where it all began for me!
So, I'll stop talking now and let you enjoy Dereck's article!
One of the true ways to get the most out of traveling the world is to connect with the locals. Connecting with locals has many benefits such as, recommendations on places to eat, places to visit, and things to do. More importantly, you may find yourself making new friends along the way and like anybody would say, “Friendships are priceless.”
But, it’s crazy what friendships with locals can do. You no longer become a tourist, and you are no longer alone. Instead of drinking, partying, or walking around the streets alone, you can have a friend with you showing you the best and unique places the city has to offer.
Furthermore, making friends with locals doesn’t only apply to solo travelers but to groups as well. These are a few major tips to help anyone make friends while traveling abroad.
Approach the “Single Riders”
As a nervous traveler, you may be intimidated to approach a group of locals. Sometimes you prefer a more intimate and personal connection with them. Approaching the “single riders” is a good step when trying to make friends because you allow a respectable and comfortable position within both parties. This also helps when trying to make friends faster simply because you have a higher chance of connecting with them on a more 1-to-1 level. Just like when you are trying to beat the long, never ending line to a rollercoaster, you may choose to jump in the single rider’s line to reach the end faster.
Keep in mind, it works the other way too. Be aware that solo locals may feel intimidated if you approach them with a large group because they fear that they will “embarrass” themselves in front of your large group, since they won’t be able to speak very good English.
Consider an Act of Kindness
Warning: some countries may find “an act of kindness” as disrespect, for they feel you are undermining or disrespecting them.
Anyway, an act of kindness can go a long way. Simply buying water or a snack for someone is enough for them to return the favor by showing you around their city. However, don’t treat this as giving extra change to the homeless man off the freeway exit. This should be genuine and respectful. The best way to approach this is buying a drink such as, beer, for someone. Social drinking is one of the most effective ways when trying to make friends, for the vibe emitted is encapsulating. (This was the only evidence concluded based on family experience because I’m not old enough to socially drink, yet. ;)”
When I visited Antigua, I bought a few bags of chips for school children. As a result, we played a little game of tag and even got a hug! The smile on their face was heart-warming. It made my heart flutter because I felt like I was treated more than a regular tourist; I was treated as a local, or a friend.
“I would love to be a local.”
Throughout my travels and making friends abroad, I found using that phrase to be a game changer. You are now entering a situation in which you are leaving behind the tourist name and entering an authentic atmosphere. It’s unthinkable how these words can completely alter your experience into a more memorable and unique encounter. This simple phrase can help you experience something that not even Google can provide you with.
Locals love it. They will love you. Because you aren’t the mundane traveler who goes to a country only because of what they see on Google images. They will love you because you are genuinely interested in their culture and you strive to learn about them and to make them your lifelong friend, not because of what you see on the internet. That quote is the epitome of my friendship stories around the world.
While this isn’t a huge list, the tips provided will surely help you make friends. Friends are made through first impressions, and with these tips, you will make friends no matter what country you travel to. Remember that the locals are just as interested in you as you are in them. All you have to do is make the move, and you will see yourself making numerous friends around this beautiful and unique globe.