Whenever we are traveling, we make a concerted effort to make friends with the locals. What better way to learn the local culture than through the people who have lived in a particular place their entire lives? There is simply no better way to get to know a place than through the people. And there is literally no way to get to know the people without interacting with them.
Over the years, we have made close friends in dozens of countries. Not only does making local friends enable one to see more of the respective city but it also ensures that you have friends to visit in the future. So what are the best ways to make local friends while you travel? We have a few suggestions!
One of the easiest ways to naturally make local friends abroad is to develop a routine. This will almost force you to make friends. If you’re in a city for a decent amount of time, get into a routine of doing things on a daily basis. Not only will this make you feel more like a local, but this will also ensure that you make local friends. A number of the friends we have made are baristas and servers at local caffes and restaurants, bartenders, and employees at local gyms.
Most of the people you’ll encounter at local gyms and in yoga and other fitness classes will be locals. You’ll have a chance to see how people interact in their own environment, take classes in their language, and of course, make friends.
NOT the Irish pub in the city center…unless of course, you’re in Ireland. Drink locally if you’re going to drink. Avoid the tourist trap bars in the center, and opt for the hole in the wall pub where the locals gather to drink and cheer on their local sports teams.
Sure, tourists hang out in parks, but so do locals who want some peace and quiet. Make a picnic with local food and enjoy a book. Chat with locals who are visiting the park as well, and don’t be too bashful to join a pick-up game of basketball or soccer or whatever they have going on.
There are few things in the world that bond people together like sports. If you want to make friends with locals in a particular area, go to a local sports event. Head to the Fiorentina soccer match and sit with the locals. Sing their songs. Curse at the opposing team.
This is probably the most important one. If you meet someone at a bar, a football game, or wherever, and you enjoy your conversation, add the person on Facebook and/or follow him/her on Instagram. It is incredibly easy to meet someone and forget them when you don’t have something to reinforce your memory. It is even easier to simply add the person on Facebook and keep in touch. Then you can reach out and make plans when you plan to return! Or, you can be a tour guide when your new friend plans to visit your city.