10 Ways to Meet People While Traveling
Whether you travel solo or with a friend, meeting people abroad is still one of the best parts of traveling. The person you share a laugh with on a beach in France could be someone you keep in touch with for life. Even if your chance encounters don’t amount to anything more than a conversation over a few drinks, it is worth putting yourself out there a bit to meet fellow travelers on the road. Here are 10 ways to meet people while traveling.
1. Go on tours
I know, I know, you hate “touristy” activities. But participating in a tour or class is not only a great way to learn about local culture, it’s an easy opportunity to make friends. Sign up for something that interests you like a cooking class, and you’ll already know you have a shared interest with the other participants. Voila! Easy conversation starter.
2. Go to your hotel bar
Hotel bars are a great place to meet travelers. Depending on the bar, most of the patrons will be guests of the hotel, or at least travelers staying nearby. If you’re by yourself, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone else sitting alone, or even a group.
3. Participate in organized activities
Most hotels or hostels have organized day treks. If there is one you’re interested in, go ahead and sign up. The convenience of having the plan made for you will be paired with the fact that you are guaranteed to be spending time with other hotel guests who are more than likely willing to chat with you.
4. Get to know your guides
Beside meeting the guests, going on tours provides a perfect opportunity to meet a local or at least a resident: your tour guide. Many adventure tour operators like dive instructors or kayak guides are nomads themselves, so they have been in your position. These people are also your key to local insights – ask them their favorite restaurants or places to go. You never know, they could ask you to join. (If they do, say yes!)
5. Get on the local Facebook groups or join a meetup
Sure, sometimes the internet and social media can make us anti-social. Everyone is guilty of missing part of conversation because they were looking at their phone. However, there are ways to put that technology to good use and use it to meet new people in person. Many cities that are popular hangouts for travelers and expats have Facebook groups dedicated to putting visitors in touch with each other. Look up one a few days before you arrive in a new city and see if anyone is free to meet up. Someone may even offer to show you around.
6. Download popular apps for local communication
In Asia, line is popular. I found that in Europe, more people used Whatsapp. Whatever it is, download it so you’ll be ready to exchange info in the most commonly used way.
7. Learn some of the language
Wherever you go it should come as no surprise that knowing the local language will open all kinds of doors. Most locals are extremely appreciative when visitors give their best shot at communicating in their language. Even if all you can say is “thank you” it makes a big difference and shows that you respect the culture and want to be a part of it.
8. Eat street food
Street food often requires you to sit family-style at tables with other people catching a quick bite. Sit at a table with someone else instead of alone and introduce yourself.
9. Answer questions with a sentence
If someone asks you a question, don’t just say “yes” or “no.” Make it into an opportunity for a possible conversation. Don’t force someone to keep talking to you if they are trying to catch a bus or something, but be open to making a new friend.
10. Be flexible
The best way to travel is with a loose plan. If you had plans to go to the Prado after lunch, but you met someone while eating who invites you to tag along to meet up with their friends, what do you do? You guessed it, go meet the locals! Say yes to invitations and be open to meeting new people. If you have an open mind you will get so much more out of your time abroad.