When we travel to a country, we all want to learn something from its culture. The tourist guide can tell you a few things, just like your Lonely Planet, but it’s definitely not the same if you learn it from a local. It’s their culture and their home area, so of course they know it better than the tourist guide. But what are the best ways to meet locals while traveling? I’ll tell you the 5 best ways to meet the local community while you’re traveling.
1. Couchsurfing, Homestay and Airbnb
There are many ways to find your accommodation. But if you want to get in touch with the local people, there are also ways to stay with them. Couchsurfing is a great and budget-friendly way for staying at a local. Most of the times the host loves to get to know you and if they have time they might show you the neighborhood and the best local places to visit.
Two other ways to stay at someone’s home are Homestay and Airbnb. Both sites provides accommodation with live-in hosts who open their homes to travelers. Not all accommodation options on Airbnb are with a live-in host, because sometimes they rent the whole apartment or house. So it’s better to look for just a room instead of a whole apartment.
2. Eat at a local’s home
What is a better way to get a real taste of a culture while eating the local cuisine? That’s right, nothing! Not only you’ll eat food prepared by a local, but you also sit next to them at the table. Eating at a local’s home has become more popular the last couple of years and it’s a growing industry. There are multiple sites like Withlocals, EatWith and Feastly for dining with a family in their home.
You can find local chefs all around the world on EatWith. In particular in the bigger cities, like New York and Barcelona. On Withlocals you can find chefs from Europe and Asia. Feastly is only for a couple of cities in the USA, but has still a lot of opportunities. So do you want to eat a real homemade Pad Thai or Pasta Bolognese, it’s now possible because of those sites.
3. Tours by locals
Withlocals is not only a website to find a perfect place to eat a local dinner. It’s also a website that lets you choose a local guide whom lead you around the area. You’ll experience the trip through the eyes of a local, with the best secret local spots on the to-do list. The tours from this site are also only located in Europe and Asia.
Another site is ToursByLocals. This site provides tours all around the world. You can find knowledgeable local people for a private tour around the area you want to visit.
4. Volunteer work
A way to meet and work closely with locals is to do volunteer work. In many countries are opportunities to do volunteer work. Just search on Google volunteer work + country/area where you want to do your volunteer work. If you already know what kind of volunteer work you want to do, write this also down as a keyword. For example what I did when I was searching for volunteer work in Indonesia, I searched this on Google; Volunteer work Indonesia teaching kindergarten. I found a perfect local project in Ubud (Bali), which gave me the opportunity to teach at a kindergarten for four weeks and work with the local people. It was the most amazing experience ever and I highly recommend you to do something like this too. There’s no better way to experience a culture by working together with them.
5. Take classes with locals
Do want to learn the Spanish language or do you want to know how to make Pad Thai? There are many different workshops and classes you can follow around the world. It’s not only a fun way to learn something new, but also a fun way to get to know the local culture. For me the site Withlocals is an absolute winner. This site doesn’t only offer tours by locals and eating with locals (like I said before), but it offers you also activities and workshops with them.
On Dabble you can find all different kind of classes all around the world. Cooking classes, yoga classes and art classes. Everything you can think of is on this site. The same is for CourseHorse. This site offers classes in three cities in the USA; New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Do you like meeting local people while traveling?