The best ways to meet locals while travelling

No matter if you’re on a short city-break in Prague, a two-week backpacking trip in Argentina or a two-month road trip through the United States, there’s no better way of getting to know a place than talking to the locals. They know the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts, the where-to-gos – and the where-not-to-gos. They are, in a nutshell, the best tour guide you could wish for. However, data from our 2016 International Travel Survey showed that despite 60% of us wanting to talk to locals, only 25% make the move to do so. Besides approaching strangers directly, or asking for directions and hoping it’ll turn into more than just a quick reply, meeting locals can be tricky. We’ve collected our favourite pick of websites and apps that will help you meet locals while travelling.

Chat with locals

The most obvious way to meet people while travelling is to talk to them, but it’s often harder than it sounds: walking up to strangers just isn’t everyone’s strong point. But that’s where the wonderful internet comes in handy – you don’t even have to do it face-to-face anymore.

reddit

Want to avoid beaches like these? Get on reddit, chat with locals, and find out where to go. Or where not to go …

Not only is reddit an rabbit hole of general information, it’s also a great resource for travelling. The unique subreddits are individual pages that cover almost every topic known to man, including travel to countries, cities, and areas. People often create entries asking for tips and advice – and for people to hang out with. Go forth and chat!

Ask a stranger

Ask a Stranger (iPhone only), is a handy app that lets you ask strangers just about anything. Plan in advance, or ask in the moment – there’s usually a group of strangers willing to give you informative answers about places to go, things to do and see, and where to eat.

Get the paper

Local newspapers are a goldmine of information. Pick them up in bars, cafes and restaurants (or Google your way to the online version), and get to know the area on a local level. Chances are there’ll be a jumble sale, a get-together, or other social event going on that will give you a chance to get mingling with the locals. If you don’t speak the local language, throw the link in Google Translate for an interesting read!

Read more: if you’re headed off to new places alone, get prepared with our 20 indispensable tips for the solo traveller

Eat with locals

What better way to get conversation going than over a delicious meal? Aside from walking into people’s houses around dinner time or pulling up a chair next to them at restaurants, it’s fairly tricky to get invited to a local slap-up. Luckily, technology has our back once again and lets us meet locals while travelling, without too much embarrassment.

EatWith

Eat with locals for home-cooked goodness

With tables waiting for you in more than 150 cities around the world, EatWith is built on a simple concept: find your destination, pick a host (aka pick something that sounds yummy), and sign up! Costs vary, but the vast majority are far cheaper than a similar meal in a restaurant. The big bonus is of course that you’ll be sat with new people – both fellow travellers and locals!

Withlocals

Similar to EatWith, but with just 20 countries on the list, Withlocals connects travellers with locals over food and experiences. From tours, various activities such as workshops, and of course food, travellers can get a real feel for a city and its culture.

Vayable

Get a different kind of guided tour and meet local people with Vayable

Along the same lines as Withlocals, Vayable offers meals, local tours and entertainment to curious travellers. Focusing on 10 European cities, they offer all kinds of set tours, but also offer the chance to request a personalised tour if what you see doesn’t grab your fancy.

Meet local people

Another great way of meeting the locals is to plan a personal guided tour of wherever you’re headed to. There are hundreds of options in hundreds of places, so pick your place, pick your guide, and jump in.

Party with a Local

Get the low-down on what’s going down, and party with the locals

Available on both iOS and Android, Party with a Local lets you do just that. Sign in, choose a local with similar tastes as you, and party! Simple as that.

Showaround

With hundreds of locals around the world, Showaround gives you a personal guide to show you around wherever you are. Tours aren’t predefined; instead you discuss your likes and dislikes before you arrive, ensuring that your personal tour is tailor-made for you. What’s not to like?!

CouchSurfing

The largest and most well-known hospitality exchange out there, Couchsurfing is a tried and tested way to get a bed for the night, insider knowledge, and, if you’re lucky, new local friends. Sign up, find a host, and get social.

ToursbyLocals

Get a local to help navigate the local markets – you never know what you’ll come home with

A well-established company, ToursbyLocals offers hundreds of tours around the world for individuals or groups. Customisable up to the level of physical activity you want, the tours cover just about everything there is to cover and give you the unique perspective of a local.

Meet Up

The world’s largest network of local groups, Meetup provides something for everyone. Filter by location, and chances are you’ll find a group of like-minded individuals meeting up to do their – and your – thing.

Read more: want more great travel apps? Check out our 15 travel apps you never knew you needed

The 5 ways

Having an open mind while travelling is crucial to fully embracing new experiences. It’s all too easy to put on blinkers and follow the well-trodden path, but when you go on your next trip, take a moment to clear your mind, get ready to open your mind, and travel with our 5 ways in mind. No technology needed.

1. Lower your guard

Travelling is about exposing yourself to something else, something different. Open your mind and put a leash on your judgement.

2. Do talk to strangers

Not only the staff at your hotel. A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

3. Say yes!

Travelling is not just about destinations – it’s about what happens along the way. Yes is the magic word to new experiences.

4. Stay curious

Have the courage to do something for the first time. Travelling is about crossing borders, including the ones you have put up for yourself!

5. Care to share

Facing the world with an open mind makes you a source of inspiration to others. Let friends and family see the beauty and friendliness of the world through your eyes. Now you’re all set to get chatting to locals before, during – and maybe even after – your trip, and to make it one to remember!

Get more travelling tips from a full-time traveller and expert vagabond, and read about our must-have travel gadgets to be completely prepared for what your journey might bring. Now, go forth and mingle!