Travel is all about how it makes you feel. It makes you feel happy, liberated, excited – almost like a child and brings a certain spring to your step when you’re headed out to explore a new place. Now, that is partly because of the place and partly because of the people who belong there. Along with witnessing gorgeous landscapes and soaking in the beauty, it’s the joy of communicating with the people of a place that makes a travel experience complete. By Charu Chowdhary

It’s very easy to hit gold with holding a flawless itinerary; it’s how to interact best with locals that requires the work. Locals everywhere are usually kind to travellers – they’d be quick to help you with directions or certain recommendations, but what you must aim for is a much more meaningful interaction. Respecting and acknowledging the people in your immediate surrounds is the first step towards forging a meaningful friendship with locals.

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💜💜 When you believe in caste, creed, class, dogma, you live just ONE life, cast in 1 mould! When you caste aside judgement and open your mind to the NEW, you live a thousand lives in one lifetime! Every moment brings a new identity, a fluid identity, an identity that keeps evolving 💜💜 ✨ ✨ One moment I’m playing with aged wine on the tip of my tongue and learning to distinguish the perfect French baguette in a small village in South France; the next I sign away my life to a shaman as I try the hallucinogenic Ayahuasca in the Peruvian rainforest; and the very next I’m soaking in ALL the information I can about little rituals and customs of 16 different tribes in Nagaland. ✨ ✨ I soak it all like a sponge, as if I am afraid it will run out. But I’m not tired. In fact I want more, much MORE! Am I crazy I wonder? ☺️ ✨ ✨ Then I look up and see Vid chatting with the village elders, sipping on Naga rice beer and gingerly trying out a snack we’ve never seen before! It suddenly puts things in perspective. I’m not crazy, just HUNGRY – for experiences, for adventure, to savour EVERYTHING life has to offer! 💜💜 ✨ ✨ Sharing notes from an unwritten memoir and postcards from a day at Hornbill Festival in Nagaland today coz this 👆is my favourite part about travelling – it isn’t the scenery or the checklists, it’s the people and the connections- oh the connections! ☺️😊

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“Often the best local gems can be found upon conversing with locals. We’ve also made so many friends this way; so make sure you make an effort to have conversations while travelling. You will learn so much about the new place you’re visiting, its culture and traditions, and most importantly about the little idiosyncrasies that make the place so special. In fact, talking to locals and sampling local food is the best shortcut to understanding the rhythm of a new place. So, the next time you travel to a new place, don’t be intimidated to have a conversation with strangers. You can always break the ice with a huge smile and a warm hello,” said team Bruised Passports (Savi and Vid).

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Joy is meeting the real travelers like these women who I met at #maheshwar in #madhyapradesh . They were doing #narmada parikrama walking the whole length of the river on foot, close to 3000 km. I met many such #womentravelers on the #ghats of Narmada who with bare minimum just walk, stopping in the evening at any temple or ashram or anywhere they can sleep. This was early morning & they were stopping in Maheshwar for some time as it was the rainy season, when these #pilgrims take a break. The while walk if done properly takes more than 3 years. When you meet such #travelers , you feel humbled. You know you have not done anything like them yet. This is #joyoftravel , the joy of #travelrealindia . #inditales contribution to #whpjoyful . #incredibleindia #mptourism #travelersofinstagram #nomadsofindia #igramming_india #indiatravelgram #india_ig #walktotemple #indianwomen #realwomen #womentravel #pilgrimage

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Anuradha Goyal, the blogger of IndiTales, said: “The whole of last year when I was doing some exploratory tours, my best friends were my local drivers. In Dwarka, Jayesh took me home to meet his grandfather who told me stories of Dwarka; in Ayodhya, Ramjee invited me home when he felt I have not been eating well. In MP, Santosh took me to places that were off the itinerary. The first day the relationship is of a client and service provider but once you start respecting their local knowledge, and they see your genuine interest in their city, believe me, no one can be a better guide. They have the collective knowledge of all the people they have taken around and the local knowledge, of course. My biggest tip would be to respect local knowledge – the best way to make the most out of your trip and make new friends.”

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Walking around Sringeri temple on the banks of #tunga river in #chikamagalur area of Karnataka we suddenly heard the tinkling of bells that came from a swaying motion. It was coming closer to us. We turned around and saw this #elephantwalk right behind us & then follow us on the bridge over river. It was fascinating to watch this giant animal walk on a narrow bridge as the visitors fed it bananas and it blessed them in return. Totally unexpected. So our entry for @instagram and #whpunexpected this week. #inditales #sringeri #sharadamba #shankaracharya #elephant #forestwalk #karnataka_ig #karnataka_focus #walktotemple #indiantemple #wildlifeindia #indianelephant #_tcoi #nammakarnataka #holyplaces #indiabeats #haathi #travelersofindia #karnatakadiaries #karnatakanodi

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Depending on the situation you are in, follow your gut and be as genuine as you can. If you’re honest in your approach, it reflects in the eyes and shows in the demeanour. Do whatever works for you, but make sure you make that extra effort, which shows you care, and that you unconditionally are interested in learning about the locals and their culture. Siddhartha Joshi, the blogger of The Wanderer, says he tries to bond with the locals even before he reaches the destination.

“For me, travel is a lot about people I meet during my journeys, and an essential part of it is that – make connections with the locals. I often try and connect online with locals even before I reach the destination – using Instagram and Twitter – it’s always worked really well. I not only get to know the place better but they often also know a lot about local places to photograph – which helps me get a unique perspective to the place. Homestay and Airbnb are great too to meet locals.”

Moreover, aren’t we all about the connections we make along the way. And you can truly connect with a place when you connect with the people of that place. Don’t hesitate to smile, talk or even ask something to the locals. In most cases, you won’t even have to go looking; just be open to interaction and people will find their way to you.

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Is #Sikkim a Buddhist state? . Well, it’s one of the most commonly held misconceptions about India’s last expansion as a country. In fact, I also thought so till my Nepalese friend told me otherwise on my visit there. I was completely taken aback, even more so because even today the region looks and feels like the cradle of Buddhism than anything else. . So if it’s not the Buddhists, which group forms the bulk of the population? Look west, and you will have the answer – it’s the Nepalese who form the overwhelming majority there. . However, things weren’t always like this. In fact a census in 1873 didn’t find a single Nepalese in the kingdom. But things change dramatically thereafter. . What happened? Well, that’s when the British came into picture. It’s a fascinating story of the great game that the then rulers of India played. Curious to know it all? Stay tuned for the second part of the story later in the evening today! . #ParadiseUnexplored @paradise_unexplored . #leicastorenewdelhi #madewithLeicaQ . #SidTheWanderer

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Much like how Lakshmi Sharath, blogger of Travel With Lakshmi, puts it:  “For me people make places. Be it local guides or vendors or strangers – I believe, conversations enrich the travel experiences. They tell me stories, give me tips and reccos and even help me with little discoveries. I got lost in Trieste when I was on the way uphill to see the Cathedral and a local told me about a shortcut, which is only available for the people. It was a car park with a lift and I was in the Cathedral in a moment. A stranger in Jodhpur even invited me to his house when he saw me taking photos of the Blue City and introduced me to his family. Locals in India are extremely helpful and hospitable – every villager in Kutch offered me chai when I visited their abodes. I am still in touch with a few of the guides and waitresses that I have bonded within my foreign jaunts. For me, locals are my very lifeline to my travel experiences.”

Related: Could This Be The ‘Preferred’ Way To Live Around The World Like A Local?