I mentioned an article by Chris Reynolds who advised travelers to step out of their comfort zones on trips. This is often rewarding. Some of his suggestions are common sense, like “Make eye contact and start conversations”. Others are not: “Go to church…or temple…or mosque” and “Make ear contact”. They got me to thinking of what I personally would add, and I quickly came up with 5 to add to his list.
Talk to the hotel concierge or the person who checked you in. This has gotten us upgrades, advice on what to do locally, cultural enrichment, etc. Always talk to your seat mate on any flight too. One time the woman sitting next to me was taking home a rescued cat that had been gassed in a local riot in Istanbul. On our recent trip to Australia our seat mate turned out to be a successful writer of teenage fiction and an actor. He gave us one of his books, which both Ruth and I liked a lot. You won’t know anything about that traveler who is going where you are unless you introduce yourself and/or start talking. If they aren’t interested in conversation, you’ll quickly know, and such exchanges have a way of stopping naturally, often after a brief exchange.
Go to the local visitor center and ask about attractions that aren’t in guide books or the local literature. If nothing else, you’ll get some local perspective and/or learn about an interesting, perhaps temporary event that is gong on in their town and welcomes outsider participation.
People at an attraction that you have chosen to see might have interests like you, so talk to them. I was looking at a painting one time and the man standing net to me asked if I could estimate its worth. As it turned out, he had a Picasso that he had bought many years before and was seeking advice on selling it.
Talk to people in restaurants. Good conversation openers are the weather, that old conversation starter, and where they live. We had lunch in a museum cafe in Athens at a communal table and learned a lot about what it was like to be living in Greece now with all the financial difficulties and migrant issues. People are often willing to talk about what is happening in their country from their perspective, and I marvel at how many people in foreign countries speak English well.