Rules for Intentional Travel: Befriend Locals - Intentional Travelers
Simple Rules for Intentional Travel (guest post by Ingrid H) | Intentional Travelers

08 May Rules for Intentional Travel: Befriend Locals

This is the a guest post by Ingrid Hannan in our series, Simple Rules for Intentional Travel, by – and for – intentional travelers.

Rule #10: Befriend LocalsSimple Rules for Intentional Travel

Want to know where to eat the best gallo pinto? Where does everyone watch the soccer game? Which stall at the market has the most honest vendor? The answer is simple: ask a local! Most people are excited to play host and show off their hometown, famous local cuisine, or explain holidays and customs. And who better to learn from than someone who’s lived there for years!

There are ways of connecting with people outside of just bumping into them on the street. Couch Surfing is common and a way I’ve met some great people (long term ex-pats can be a fountain of information), but also consider that taking a language course, volunteering, or jumping into a pickup game of soccer can all be friendship-inducing activities. (See: Stay a while as well…if you’re not in one place for more than a day, good luck with building any sincere camaraderie.)

But to have a good friend you have to be one; friendship goes both ways. Share some of yourself, invite your new friend along to dinner, give a thank you gift to hosts. Act as an ambassador from your home country- be curious and open while being a gracious guest, too. Behind learning the language (which helps here too), this can be the most formative means of expanding and deepening your experience. You get insights and perspectives far richer than the best written guidebook.

This is the last of our 10-part series of great stories and reflections from Ingrid. Find the rest at: Simple Rules for Intentional Travel.

Intentional Travelers: Rules for Lightening Your Cultural Footprint by Ingrid H.About Ingrid: Ingrid is a wanderlust at heart. She’s lived all up and down the west coast, studying environmental science and Spanish at the University of Portland and studying how to grow vegetables in Colorado and Washington. Her favorite activities include rock climbing, eating ice cream, and writing letters. Her travels have taken her from the Caribbean to East Asia and many destinations inbetween. The next places she hopes to travel to are New Zealand, Japan, and Norway.

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  • LB
    Posted at 16:38h, 16 May

    This is so important! The most memorable experiences from traveling were when CouchSurfing and fostering lifelong friendships with locals. I learned that even though I’m in a foreign country, the people are not so foreign after all. We all have hearts and want to love, smile, and laugh here in this here world.

    Another memorable experience was meeting two women in Java, Indonesia. They were sitting across from us and kindly translated for us when they saw us struggling to communicate with an employee. Instead of just saying “thank you” and leaving, we started a conversation with them and invited them to a shadow puppet show that evening. They took us to a small restaurant that boasts the best of local flavors (jackfruit curry) and even invited us out for a full-day’s adventure the next day. We hopped on their scooters while they showed us some hidden secrets in their city.

    I encourage travelers to make an effort to befriend locals. Don’t be shy! You’ll gain so much more than merely following the guidebook and other travelers’ advice.

    • intentionaltravelers
      Posted at 18:12h, 16 May

      What a great story from Java! That’s a perfect example of the benefits of befriending locals.

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