Travel Tips

  • Talk to locals
  • Immerse yourself in the culture
  • Talk to the staff at hostels
  • Participate in group events
  • Look for free walking tours in many cities

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David Tintner

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Making Friends

Meeting Local People

In order to truly experience each place you visit you have to get in touch with the local culture and meet people from the area. At first it can seem difficult to find strangers who want to talk, but by using a few resources, it will soon come easily.

Hostels are great places to get your foot in the door with the local culture. The hostel staff almost always speaks English well, and is accustomed to helping tourists get around and answering their questions. Another advantage of hostels is the events they organize. Many hostels gather groups to check out the local bar and club scene each night or host free meals in a group setting.

Another great resource at your disposal are your tour guides. In many cities there are free walking tours hosted by college-aged guides who speak English and know the city well. One of the most successful tour groups is Sandemans New Europe Tours. There are usually a few different tours in each city ranging from an overview walking tour to a nighttime pub-crawl. Joining up with groups like this can be a great way to get a feel for the city and have a good time while doing it.

People

Keeping in Touch

Meeting people one time is great, but when you stay in touch with them you can develop friendships and maintain great resources throughout your travels. Often you will meet some one in one city who lives in another city you are planning on traveling to later on in your trip. Whether you meet up with them for a drink or they provide a free place to crash, already knowing a local your first day in a city gives you a huge leg up.

There are several resources that make keeping in touch with people extremely easy. The first and most important is bringing along a smart phone or another device with Wi-Fi capabilities like an iPod Touch. There is free Internet in most hostels as well as in many restaurants such as McDonald’s and Starbucks.

When you make a friend, ask for their e-mail address and learn their full name. Almost everyone is on Facebook now so you can easily send them a message there. A great way to get in touch with people before you even get to a city is by using couchsurfing.org. The site is a community of people all over the world who are willing to let you crash on their couch for a day or two. It can be hard to arrange a place to stay, but you can also just meet up for lunch or ask them to show you around during the day. Each person on couchsurfing.org has a detailed profile, and you can see how other users rated their experiences with them.