Top 10 Guaranteed Ways to Meet New People While Traveling
If you’ve ever traveled solo, you know that there are times when it can be extremely lonely. Fortunately, traveling also provides the perfect opportunity for you to step out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to new cultures, meet new people and make some friends in the process.
But meeting new people can be a little awkward at first. When you are a solo traveler in an unfamiliar place it can be intimidating and sometimes difficult to find like-minded people that you click with unless you know where to look. Here are some tips and tools that can help you find and hit it off with people when you travel
1. Choose the right lodging atmosphere.
Accommodations can play a huge role in facilitating non-awkward introductions with fellow travelers. Although hotels that cater to the business traveler may be packed with amenities like hot tubs, spas, room service and gyms. They often don’t have the best social atmosphere. When booking accommodations, look at review sites. Look specifically for how the listing rates on atmosphere and friendliness.
TripAdvisor is a valuable source for lodging reviews, however, HostelWorld is another credible review source that caters to hostels. Hostels are full of travelers looking to mingle with other travelers. With this in mind, hostels will frequently host language exchanges, trivia nights, dancing classes and other social events that are prime places to connect with others.
2. Book an Airbnb or a homestay.
If hostels aren’t really your cup of tea, book on Airbnb. The popular booking site is more intimate than a hotel and has some unique places to stay with hosts that are often eager to connect with guests. Before booking, read the host reviews and see what previous guests say about their experience.
For an even more at-home experience, try a homestay arrangement. In homestays, you’ll likely stay with a family of locals, which makes it an instant avenue for forming connections with your host and the surrounding community. You can find one easily through Homestay, a booking site dedicated specifically to this type of accommodation.
3. Connect with locals on Couchsurfing.
Like Airbnb, but without the money, Couchsurfing was created specifically to help travelers and locals connect. If you are traveling on a budget, you can find free accommodation with a local host that wants to share their culture with you and learn about yours. But, you don’t need to stay with a Couchsurfing host to meet people. The app also features Couchsurfing events where people meet up to connect with others and join in on fun activities.
4. Get a pen pal.
Pen pals may seem like an antiquated way to connect with people that live in exotic places. However, having a pen pal is an interesting way to get to know someone from another culture or country, and thanks to technology, it’s now easier to find and communicate with someone.
Doonglle is a pen pal-finding mobile app compatible with both iOS and Android devices. It puts a unique twist on the snail mail version of pen pals and enables users to find and communicate with each other on their online platform. One of the most impressive features is the matching service. Users can narrow down their potential pen pals by age, interests, languages and location. There’s also a “Snail Mail” pen pal option for those that like to keep it classic.
5. Go to a language exchange.
If you are traveling to a foreign country, look for language exchanges. Both locals and tourists go to these, often in order to practice English, but also to meet people. There are usually icebreakers, so you’ll feel less stressed about introducing yourself to strangers.
Plus, if you hit it off with some of the attendees, swap WhatsApp numbers or connect on Facebook. Asking for their contact information is normal and often encouraged so you can continue improving your language skills. If it’s a local, they may even offer you a free tour of their town in exchange for some English pointers.
6. Sign up for MeetUp.
The Meetup app creates and brings together groups of people through online communities and face-to-face meetings. One of the greatest things about it is that events and gatherings are generated by both location and your own interests. Simply search for Meetups that are taking place around the area that you’re visiting and join the group to get notifications and important event information. You can ask questions or start conversations with group members before you arrive to make it more comfortable when you meet in-person.
7. Create a Tinder profile.
Tinder isn’t just for finding a romantic date. Because the mobile app generates user profiles based on geographic location, you have instant access to an online network of potential connections wherever you are visiting. Those connections don’t have to be romantic either. When you set up your Tinder profile, be honest about what you want. For instance, you can say that you are traveling and looking to make friendly connections with locals and travelers. The app is also useful for travelers that want to brush up on their foreign language skills.
8. Find travel buddies.
More and more people are traveling solo and looking for travel buddies to join them at some point during their trip. Apps like Travel Buddies and Backpackr have sprung up to help connect like-minded travelers. Travel Buddies is a social network for travelers that features packaged trips and deals that bring together tourists. It also has a large online community of travelers that post on their forums, searching for connections that either are or will be in the same places that they are visiting. Backpackr is a mobile app for iOS and Android devices that follows the same concept, but it is geared more towards the backpacking crowd. One of the app’s features is “The Common Room”, in which users can find travel plans by searching nearby or by selecting a specific country or hashtag.
If your itinerary has free space, sign up to volunteer. Whether you choose to do it through a program or decide to find your own opportunities, volunteering is one of the best ways to meet new people. When you get involved in programs, you make connections with the nonprofit that you are helping, locals, as well as other traveling volunteers.
GoOverseas is one site that lists and reviews global volunteer programs, ranging from English teaching, women’s rights, and environmental and animal conservation projects. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and it connects travelers with organic farms that need an extra set of hands. You can choose how long you want to help and farms provide your food and accommodations. Another alternative to find short and long-term volunteer opportunities by location, is the NGO search engine VolunteerMatch.
10. Join guided tours and other tourist events.
When you’re traveling, easily meet people by intentionally going to places where you know other travelers will be. Tourists are often more open to striking up conversations with people they don’t know, because that’s one of the key components of travel. Instead of sightseeing a new city on your own, sign up for a group walking or bike tour. Instead of eating at a restaurant alone, join a local food tour, cooking class or tasting event.
Although traveling is an exciting opportunity for you to break out of your cocoon and transform into a social butterfly, always remember to keep safety in mind. It is important to stay in contact and check in with family and loved ones at home to update them on your whereabouts and new connections. However, almost every traveler knows that making an international call home can be incredibly expensive, and WiFi access can be hard to find and unreliable. Make sure that you stay connected overseas by bringing along Keepgo’s international mobile SIM cards or mobile WiFi hotspots.