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7 Awesome Ways To Connect With Locals While You Travel

7 Awesome Ways To Connect With Locals While You Travel

There are two ways to travel to other countries.

You can purchase a travel package, join a tour group of your “own kind,” and travel to a country. There, you will stay at a nice hotel, eat where other tourists eat, travel to the museums, the scenic sights, and the historical buildings, shop, and ultimately go home with lots of pictures, very happy to have seen a foreign land.

The second way to travel is to go “on your own,” perhaps with a spouse, partner, or friend, having made the decision to make friends with the local people, to get to know the culture and the customs through the eyes of the people who live it every day.

This kind of travel is the way to really experience a country if you want to return home knowing that you really understand the people and a culture different to yours.

The biggest issue with this way of traveling, however, can be summed up with: “And how do I actually meet and make friends with the locals?”

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We have you somewhat covered on this! Here are 7 ways to do that, and all of them will work like a charm.

1. Find Someone From The Country In Your Own Town Before You Go

Go to a local university — they all have international student organizations — and get the contact information for one of the students from the country where you will be traveling.

Meet with them and ask about the country, the culture, and local spots to hang out when you get there.

You will then have local knowledge in advance of your travels. Most of these students also have family and friends back home, and they might offer to “introduce” you to them by email or Facebook before you even go. Voila! You will then have a contact person who can help you get around and experience the local lifestyle.

2. Learn The Language (At Least The Basics)

There are crash courses all over the Internet. Sign up for one and get the common expressions so that you can speak the language a bit.

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This will help you to fit in when you go out to local bars and restaurants. And as you strike up conversations with some of the locals who eat there, you may make some friends who will be willing to show you around a bit.

3. Hang Out At A College Or University

This may sound like a strange tip, but one traveler tells a story about how he went to the college campus and into a classroom building. He walked into a large class and sat down. When the class was over, he began to talk a bit with a couple of the students there and they ended up going out to lunch. One of the students even offered his couch to the traveler to stay overnight. Getting into the home of a local is always a great way to learn more.

4. Engage With The CouchSurfing Community

This is just one of many websites that will help you get right into the local “scene.” It has locals from nearly every country in the world opening their homes for travelers to stay while they are in that town. If you plan in advance, you can have all of your lodging taken care of by staying overnight in locals’ homes.

Alternatively, it’s just a cool place and a community to ask for all sort of travel tips, get to know the best hole-in-the-wall bars, and meet locals who will walk around town with you for a few hours.

5. Eat Where The Locals Eat

Arguably, the best way to “learn a country” is through food. Yet so many travelers eat in their hotels or in the typical restaurants that serve foreigners. The food at these places is nothing like what the locals eat.

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Always choose restaurants that are filled with locals, even if they look less alluring than your typical diner.

You can make friends with your waiter and the bartender and return every day. Pretty soon, they will be offering to take you places when they are off work.

You can also find families that open up their homes to foreigners for a meal. Some charge a bit, but the bigger value is to eat real food and have a conversation with local people. They will also be great sources of information about where to go to have a more local experience in the country.

6. Find Out About Local Events Before You Leave

There may be holidays or special events or festivals going on while you are there, so be sure you find out about these and plan to attend them. If you have not taken the time to do this, you can always ask that waiter or bartender you made friends with.

You want to see and understand how people in your host country celebrate, what they wear, what they eat, and what the events and festivals mean to their cultural history.

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7. Find A Crafted Vacation Planner                     

Because many people now want to travel outside of the typical tour group, there are lots of companies that plan personalized trips. They are connected to locals in countries and will arrange for personal local tour guides and even opportunities to stay in homes or share meals with local families. One of the advantages of this method is that the locals are already known to the company so they are safe hosts for a foreigner. These planners can also be great sources of information about where to go and what to see for a really “local” experience rather than just the “tourist” one.

Now you have 7 ways to connect with the locals in any country you visit. You should also try doing the same when foreigners come to your country. You can sign up on the websites that were mentioned in this post and offer your home for a meal or arrange to meet a traveler and show them around your town.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via hd.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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