It’s easy to chat with other travelers when you’re staying at hostels, but how do you start conversations with the locals? It’s time to turn off the iPod, close the Lonely Planet, and go meet some people. Here are some tricks I use for striking up conversations while on the road:
- If there’s a counter, sit at it. Tables are for people who want to be left alone while they eat. Counters are for people who want to interact. Simple as that.
- Become a regular. Have lunch at a place one day and have dinner there the next. In Yellowstone there are “geyser gazers” who come every summer to watch the geysers. They hang out with each other, and some are a bit stand-offish with the tourists … They’re probably tired of explaining the same thing over and over. It took some patience, but after two weeks the most aloof of them turned to me and said “I’ve been seeing you around a lot lately.” It was, of course, the day before I left, but was still it was a fun conversation with one of the local geyser experts.
I sprained my wrist a couple of months ago and I was amazed at how many people started a conversation by seeing my brace and asking me what happened. Luckily (?) what happened was not something boring like carpal tunnel, but a bike accident while cruising down a mountain in Colorado. It left me with a bunch of other scars to show off and a cool story to tell. While I don’t recommend crashing your bike at 25mph, if you DO have carpal tunnel it might be a good idea to invent a cool story about biking the Rockies. You can steal mine if you want. I don’t mind. I’ve got photographic proof that it happened to me.
That’s what works for me. How do you meet the locals?