6 Tips for Effective Interaction With Locals While Traveling Abroad

Joy and excitement mixed with nervousness and a few worries – this sort of rollercoaster of emotions is what traveling abroad gives you. Flying to another country means experiencing loads of brand new things that will write your fresh and fantastic memories. It means viewing the world’s grandeur from the angle of a foreign land, and that’s just incredible! The happiness and thrill will surely be like no other. Meanwhile, an anxious feeling also arises with the thought of actually being a total stranger in a certain country. It’s normal, especially if it’s your first time in that place, and you know nobody. 

Remember that if you’re having a hard time making your way through a foreign country, the best people to help you are its locals. Since they know the twists and turns, the do’s and don’ts, and the ins and outs, they can truly aid and guide you when you need assistance. You can rely on their answers and instructions because it’s their territory that you’re actually asking about. 

It’s not enough to simply see them though. You should be able to connect to them in certain ways that will make understanding accessible for both parties. Check out the list below! Here are 6 tips for effective interaction with locals while traveling abroad

1 – Do your research before flying.

traveling - map

Dare not to take unwarranted risks. It is an essential must-do for every foreign tourist to get to know what awaits you in that destination you’ve never been to before. Do your research before flying to another country. It’s one of the most crucial preparations that you cannot just take lightly. Read and research about the country first before going there, so you have an idea on how to travel to and in it. 

Another importance of doing your research is being able to make locals understand what you are asking about. Instead of just letting yourself be a hundred percent clueless, allow yourself to at least be familiar with significant things that foreign travelers should be aware of. In that way, when you ask a local for directions, you won’t be a total “???” when they tell you where to go. 

2 – Learn their language.

traveling - pet

Part of the key preparations to do before traveling abroad is learning the language of that country. Although this is not required most of the time, especially if you’re really just visiting as a tourist, it would be a powerful edge as you communicate and interact with locals. You don’t have to be very fluent; understanding and knowing how to speak their basic language will do. Locals of some countries are not so good at speaking the universal language, English, so you will surely have an advantage when you can adjust to them since you’re a tourist. 

3 – Avoid gestures that may have negative meanings.

traveling - hands

You will learn this when you educate yourself about the country you are going to before you go traveling there. If your country has the peace sign as a standard wacky pose for taking pictures, some countries consider that hand signal as offensive or insulting. If the horn fingers are usually used by rockstars, in some cultures, it is a bad symbol. 

If you know that the country of your visit has different connotations regarding similar body language as your country’s, be careful. Avoid gestures that have or may have negative meanings in their culture. Particularly when you are speaking with locals, this is something to keep in mind. If you are just on your own or with your travel buddies, then you can do the harmless poses you know. 

4 – Smile.

traveling - smile

What many tourists love about traveling abroad is meeting fresh faces and congenial locals that make them feel at home. Locals that are very cordial and warm-hearted truly make trips, even the exhausting ones, a worth-remembering experience. Whenever you meet such good people, wear your sweet smile as you interact with them. Let them feel your appreciation and gratitude for their cheerful welcome and help. 

On the other side of the coin, you may also encounter locals that are not so open-handed to tourists. Some are not trusting, and we understand because it’s also hard to trust total strangers. Meanwhile, some are really just not comfortable and not willing to lend their time to tourists asking for help. Still, even if you meet such locals, give them a smile. Who knows? That kind smile might be able to change their mood and their mind.

5 – Be polite and courteous.

happy woman

This should come naturally. Be polite and courteous. You are the foreigner, and they are the locals. You are the visitor, and they are the homeowner. Always keep your manners in tact. Whoever you meet, no matter the age or the occupation, regardless of whether you meet them in the hotel accommodation or on the streets, always be respectful. Be well-spoken whatever the situation is. 

6 – Be courageous to start a conversation.


It cannot be denied that most foreign tourists are shy or afraid to ask locals due to the language barrier. Some are just hesitant because they are like aliens on a different planet, and most of the time, many locals are looking at them. This is very much relatable for solo travelers.

Toughen up your mind and your chest. Be courageous to start a conversation. You are in need of assistance and answers to your questions. You want to be informed and not lost. There are clarifications you need to have met. It’d be a wonderful divine intervention if a local just goes to you to answer the question you did not speak. However, that seldom happens. You really have to initiate the conversation with locals. Be confident. 



While traveling abroad, it’s absolutely relieving and comforting to meet locals who are very welcoming and accommodating. You’d be lucky to encounter those who are 101% hospitable to foreign tourists, like you. 

The best way to learn what they are trying to help you with is by knowing how to interact with them. It’s the same thing if you want to thank them for all their kindness.  


Nicole Ann Pore is a writer, an events host and a voice over artist. Quality and well-researched writing is her worthwhile avenue to enlighten and delight others about things that matter. She is a daytime writer for Holiday Inn Parramatta Hotel, a five-star hotel in Parramatta, New South Wales which provides a rewarding stay and a close reach of Australia’s noteworthy features. Nicole graduated Cum Laude from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.

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