For many of us, including The Inbetweeners, your gap year is all about meeting members of the opposite sex. Some backpackers are happy with an occasional hostel liaison with another gapper, but there are others who want to try their luck with the locals. I met some of these ‘others’ in my hostel last week and together we compiled a list of tried and tested tips guaranteed to help you pull both males and females from a completely different culture on your gap year.
Just for research, y’know.
Use Couchsurfing or dating services
Make sure you have some contact with locals before you arrive. One way to do this is to use online dating sites such as Match, plentyoffish, or Tinder etc., but if you do that you have to weed through gold diggers, prostitutes, fake profiles and people who’ll never respond no matter how much you try.
Couchsurfing is the perfect way to meet locals who speak reasonable English and can take you to bars and clubs that are great for meeting potential partners, although it might not be cool to take them back to your host’s place.
Some people use Couchsurfing directly as a dating service, but you shouldn’t make it a pick-up contact. It’s a good idea to just meet the hosts for a coffee or a drink beforehand if you’re intending to bed them. Never stay over at their places and then try to pick them up. That’s both risky and a bit creepy, and can end up in mutual embarrassment, or a jail term.
You meet as two travel enthusiasts without any intent to date. Your local, friendly couchsurfer is willing to show you around the city and/or meet you for a drink at night, and all you have to do is show up and turn it into a seduction without them noticing it at first by just being a cool person to hang out with.
Create an attractive profile on a dating site, with a good background story and lots of pictures. Use photos that show you in all kinds of interesting and exciting places, some landscapes, a few pictures of you hanging out with friends, a few mixed pictures and pictures of scary stuff like snakes, scorpions and doing a skydive. The whole profile should say FUN.
Now compare this to the profile of all the regular people on there with boring stories and pictures. You will already stand out and have lots of dates lined up before you even arrive in the city. Make sure to weed out anyone who’s less likely to fall for your charms and of course the ones you don’t like in the first place. Once you meet your chosen one, you have to feel the situation out by some minor flirting and touching and the rest is up to your gaming skills. For me this is by far the best way to pull abroad, but then again my coffee/drink/conversational game is pretty rock solid.
Tinder is great for when you’re on the road and don’t have time to go through all the matchmaking rigmoral. Swipe and go!
Choose your place to stay wisely
Getting thrown out of a hostel is never fun. If you’re on the chirpse and you can afford it, invest in a private double room. Make sure you are allowed to bring a guest over by asking before you take the room. If you’re a budget backpacker like our little group then getting your own room will only be possible in the cheaper parts of the planet, like Asia or South and Central America.
Bringing locals back to your dorm is not impossible, but requires a bit of luck and a whole lot of sneakiness. I‘ve managed it successfully quite a few times but it’s not ideal. Getting a love hotel or private room is way better if you intend to spend a few hours instead of using a squeaky dorm bed or the hostel bathroom for a quickie. Ask the hostel receptionist where the love hotels are and let them point it out on a map. The key is not to be shy about it. Better to look like a fool in front of the hotel receptionist than risk your intended to change their mind in the taxi.
You need the perfect place to go back to, should your mission be successful.
Dress to impress
You don’t have to walk around like a model, but it’s important to stand out at least a bit. Be someone that people want to be seen with. Remember that anyone in a club has probably spent at least 15 minutes getting ready, so you should do the same. Any more is a bonus. Backpackers have a bad name for being “dirty”, so be and look clean and fresh so you don’t blend in with the usual lot. And if you can find the time to work out on the road at all so those clothes hang on you a little better, you’re onto a winner.
Learn some of the local language
You’re not going to pull a local if you can’t even say hello to them, no matter what you look like. If you can speak just a few words they’ll be putty in your hands, hopefully. Of course, finding someone who speaks the English is your best option but it also limits your chances severely because in lots of countries there aren’t too many of those around.
The key is to surprise them with your knowledge of words they don’t expect. Lots of times this will tip the scale in your favour because it means that you’re fun to hang out with too. Think words like ‘beautiful’, ‘I love you’ (said in your accent so they know it’s funny), ‘naughty’, ‘care to dance’ – those sort of words are golden when you’re flirting. Often the Lonely Planet will give you a really random phrase in the local language – learn it. It doesn’t take long to learn a list of 25 to 30 words.
Work that British charm
Remember that scene in Love Actually where Kris Marshall goes to the bar in Wisconsin and the local girls love him and make him say all those stupid ‘British’ phrases? How about when Joey from Friends was in London for Ross’ wedding and the English girl was going crazy for him? Well that could happen, if you’re lucky.
When you’re British there are a lot of nationalities around the world who really like your accent. Find them. Americans are a good bet for starters. Ham it up, give them the olde English version of you, and watch them flock. Make sure to dot in a few OTT English phrases we never actually say, such as ‘D’you know what I mean?’, ‘Pip pip!’, ‘old sport’, ‘I say, old chap! What a rum turn of events!’, ‘Just the ticket, in fact!’, etc, etc for effect. Open doors, let them sit first, pay for things – just like we used to do in England – and they’ll love it.
I hope these tips help you pull a local when you’re on your gap year.
Let me know how you get on!