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Plucking up the courage to start a conversation with a stranger is challenging at the best of times – but throw in a language barrier and a cultural divide or two and the task can seem insurmountable.

Don’t be shy. Travel is the ultimate opportunity to work on your people skills, so start simple, give them a smile and see what happens – the results might surprise you. At a loss for words? These city-specific tips from our Lonely Planet Locals should get you talking.

A drink or two will boost your confidence in Tokyo © aon168 / Shutterstock

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