Whether you go on a world trip by yourself, in a couple or with your friends, it has to be prepared and you will be able to meet many people anywhere. Don’t plan everything, be open-minded and smiling and remember leaving his comfort zone also means new friends from different background, that you will keep for one day, one month, the whole life.
The social groups for expats and tourists
First type of category, the group of expats. Indeed, with the same historic and cultural background than us, same interests (travel and living abroad is already one!), meeting this kind of people is always nice and appreciable when we go out of our comfort zone. And if you travel alone, also a good opportunity to benefit from their local experience in view of the country customs, way of life or kitchen. But if it is easy to meet other travellers, for example sleeping in the same hotel as you, meeting expats in the country, staying on a long-term period there can be more complicated but also more interesting. So you could get information on other important aspects, above all if you plan to stay in the country to live in, such as work, cost of living, visa, health insurance, retirement pension…So it is definitely possible to meet people from different horizon, but with the same passions and interests.
- The Meetup and Internations group are gathering passionate guys around a same topic, or expats wanting to make new friends who share a similarity point: Living abroad and the difficulties to adapt as in some specific cases, there is the possibility to be “lost in translation”, above all if you come alone. These meetups are generally held once every fortnight and allow to create informal relationships with also concrete advantages in some cases (networking for a job for example).
- Online discussions or on specialized forums, such as expat. Very cool and on diverse topic, managed from people who’ve been living for a long time in the country.
- Of course social networks are extremely efficient and work very well. They are often quite informal and and allow you to get very quickly new information, share the tips, or settle an appointment with other new comers in order to have a nice moment around a couple of drinks later. Of course Facebook is the place to be, but also Linkedin from a professional point of view.
Meeting the locals
In order to meet local people and have stronger relationships than just purely monetary ones (often the case in poor countries), and to know more about the cultural landscape of the country, the best thing is to stay for quite a long period of course. Also, sleeping in one’s place (couchsurfing for example, or airbnb) is also an excellent way to meet and know more intimately them, easier to break the ice! They would be happy to learn from you as well, knowing the reciprocity of the deal could be a reality in a few years time! Or be a new Antoine de Maximy, from the French TV show “I will sleep at your home”.
Travelling is also meeting new people, new faces, new cultures!
In other words, try to stay in a same place for a (relatively) long period from time to time to go out with them and have deeper relationships. Volunteering or wwooffing are excellent ways to feel helpful and have close relationships with them. Indeed travelling is not only discovering well-know monuments to take the same picture that everyone took before you but also the opportunity to meet local people in their daily lives and see the differences and similarities with ours. Some tips:
- Go and meet them with a beautiful smile and keep interest to their activities. You will see most modest people are often more generous and their own story very interesting. And they would be happy to share them with you.
- Be flexible and learn basics of the language, a good way to start the conversation and to show you want to integrate! Try their activities, taste the local kitchen (excellent to develop warm exchanges, as the alcohol can also help…)
- Children are also good to introduce yourself as they are often more spontaneous and will come to you. In poorer countries, offering them a small gift from time to time (kits, pens or a polaroid instantaneous picture for memory..) can be good but don’t encourage begging of children. Parents can then have a positive point of view regarding you.
- If you have a specific talent that you can express even if you don’t speak the local language, then go for it! If you know how to make music with your hands, juggle or do a magic trick or play football, don’t be shy! An excellent way to start a conversation.
Of course always be careful first of all as the goal is not just to talk to people, quality has to be over quantity! And if you don’t really “feel” that someone could be a good person, follow your intuition and run! Not to be paranoid but respect the basis of safety, don’t follow a relatively unknown guy in a place you don’t know anything about, don’t go around an unsafe area at night time…Bad things don’t only happen to others!