Our Guide on How to Meet Locals
In our collective imagination, we tend to perceive islands as sandy, palm-studded shores lapped by water moving to-and-fro. In truth, if you wander past the beach, you will stumble upon a nation steeped in history and culture, with innumerable haunts to discover, endemic fauna and flora, villages, cities, the homes of locals… Simply put, the soul of the island.
While some travelers have a hard time getting up from their chaise-longues and leaving the peace and quiet of their hotel, others love nothing more than unearthing new haunts, sampling a staggering diversity of foods, and learning about the culture and history of the islands of the Indian Ocean region. Meeting locals and getting first-hand insight is undoubtedly the best way to get to know a country.
Our tips on discovering the unknown through the eyes of a local: - Live like a local: homestays and lodges are the perfect way to assimilate local customs and meet inhabitants. The human-scale size of these types of accommodation allows you to converse with your host and foster a friendship. Hosts usually know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts, and where-to-gos.
Do talk to strangers:
Restaurants are great places to strike a conversation. The classic is to ask your neighbour what they are eating or to ask for help deciphering the menu. Locals are always amused by confused or intrigued tourists, and more than willing to help.
An open, curious mind will trigger chance encounters. Sure, safety is always an element you want to consider, but letting your guard down a little can lead to adventure steps off the beach
There are countless apps and sites to help you plan your trip - from searching for the cheapest flight to finding a couch to crash on, from connecting with locals to scouting out the best coffee. Technology can help you skip the tourist traps and go straight for the real deal.
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in an unknown place. Just remember your lost is somebody else’s hometown, neighborhood, or favorite place to hang out. Ask for directions (you’ll make a friend or two, and at the very least, it will make go a great travel story.)
Learn the language:
Learning a whole new language might be overly ambitious, but picking up on a handful of words in the local language goes a long way. Phrases like “hello”, “how much is this?” and “I am a vegetarian” will grease the wheels of interacting with the locals and makes the difference between being greeted with a delighted smile and an apathetic shrug.
Know your address:
If you are traveling to a country where a different alphabet is used, you will have a hard time reading signs. Before leaving your hotel, ask Reception for a business card, which you may show to your cab driver.