When traveling I always try to live like a local. I’ve never done a round the world trip like many others did but I have been traveling for almost 6 years non stop. What I did, was moving from one place to another. It all started in Australia where I lived for a year in 2008, when I arrived in Brisbane, I knew nobody and actually never heard of Brisbane before. It was a spontaneous move with a one way ticket. I got a job offered at a bedding company and decided to give it a go.
Afterwards, I moved to The Netherlands for two and a half years, followed by Bulgaria and a year in Bangkok. To me it’s important to live like a local and to be in touch with locals.
These are five things that helped me integrate into the community while living in foreign countries.
1. Get an apartment outside of the city center
In the center you will often meet tourists and locals that have too much money and often wouldn’t even care talking to you. I noticed that once you move a little bit outside of the city center, people are more open to interact with you and they are happy to hear your story. In Bangkok I lived in a very Thai neighborhood and had to quickly adopt to the Thai lifestyle. An apartment is also a good way to create your own little comfort zone. As much as I love a nice hotel, there is nothing better coming “home” after a long day of exploring a new city! Go With Oh offers apartments in many european cities!
2. Find a your new favorite cafe and bar
It’s great to find new places all the time but you should find a few places where you go regularly. I felt like a local when at my local coffee store I had a loyalty card behind the counter and every time I came to order a coffee, the guys greeted me by my name and had the coffee ready cause they saw me crossing the street outside. In Bangkok the Gin Tonic at my street bar was ready within minutes after arriving and I didn’t have to order it!
3. Eat like a local
Find a restaurant outside of the fancy city center where the locals go. Chat with them and make friends, also eat like them. If you are in India, you should start to eat with your hands or when in Asia use the chop sticks. Don’t be afraid of trying new things like insects. Afterwards you can still say that you don’t like it but at least you have tried!
4. Walk everywhere
There is no better way to explore a new city than by getting lost. In Brisbane, I was super jet lagged but arrived in the early morning. I immediately went for a long walk and got lost like never before. But I got to know the city really well within a few weeks.
5. Use public transportation
If you don’t like to walk that much, use public transportation. It’s a great way to see other parts of the city and to meet locals. Many countries, especially Australia, are very open to talk to strangers. I met some incredible people while driving to work every morning!