How to Meet People While Traveling
For solo travelers, time on the road can get lonely - even in the most incredible places. Meeting people around the world not only brings a sense of camaraderie, these new friends can open your eyes to different cultures and experiences. So, here are five good options for how to meet people while traveling:
In addition to writing about his and Jenna’s travel and work adventures, Chipp is a CPA and founder of Walutes Capital, a real estate development and accounting firm. Wearing this “other hat,” Chipp offers real estate investment and development consulting services to clients. If you’d like help with your own real estate investing journey, contact Chipp here to set up an appointment!
Stay at a Hostel
Staying at a hostel is one of the best and easiest ways to meet people while traveling, for two reasons. First, hostels inherently cater to the backpacking, adventurous, and solo-traveling communities. As such, hanging out at a hostel puts you in close proximity with a bunch of people that likely find themselves in a similar situation to your own. That is, most fellow guests will be at a hostel because they want to see a local community and meet new people.
The second huge perk to meeting people in these places involves a hostel’s layout. Whereas hotels are designed to let people spend leisure time in their rooms, hostels are designed to get people congregating in common areas. Most hostel accommodations are fairly bare bones - great for crashing and leaving your bags, but not much else. Instead, hostel kitchens, bars, and other common areas serve as places where people hang out, significantly increasing your chances of bumping into some new friends.
Do a “With Locals” Tour
We wish we’d found out about WithLocals years ago! Essentially, this website pairs local guides with travelers for private tours throughout the world. Yes, you need to pay for these tours, but it’s an immediate way to meet a local, someone tied into the community you’re visiting. Like art? Find a custom tour to take you through a city’s best museums. Like food and booze? Tailor your tour as a culinary adventure through a new city.
Regardless of what you want your tour to look like, doing one will introduce you to a local. These are great people to point you to the best places to visit in a new area, tie you into the local social community, and just generally be a helping hand in a new place.
For example, Chipp flew solo over to Poland to pick up Jenna’s folks for a trip back to the States. Not knowing anyone and having a day to spare in Warsaw, Chipp signed up for a walking overview tour of the Polish capital. For the next few hours, he and his guide strolled through the city, ate and drank at cool spots, and just had a great time. Fast forward after the tour - Chipp and his guide went out to a neighborhood bar for Polish food and drinks. Bottom line, signing up for a WithLocals tour immediately tied Chipp into the local community, letting him make a new friend while traveling.
NOTE: While WithLocals is an amazing option, a lot of cities also have city-specific organizations with a similar mission. In Cape Town, South Africa, we did an incredible Local Knowledge Tour, and our guide became a great friend!
Meeting friends on a Local Knowledge Tour in Cape Town
Sign Up for Pub Crawl
Whether you like drinking or not, pub crawls are a great way to meet new people during your travels. Organized through hostels, universities, local social clubs, and plenty of other organizations, these are awesome options for solo travelers. If you’re staying at a hostel, ask the front desk about crawls starting from the hostel; this has the added benefit of connecting you with people staying at the same place. If you’re staying somewhere else, just Google “[insert city] pub crawls.”
Typically, these events give you a time and place to link up, and then a local guide takes you to a number of bars in a given neighborhood. This has two benefits. First, it shows you cool places where locals like to hang out. And second, it alleviates that awkward feeling of showing up to a bar by yourself, as you’ll be traveling with a big group.
Reach Out to a Local Sports or Activity Club
This is one of Chipp’s favorite techniques for meeting new people on the road. And, as a bonus, it also works great when you move to a new city. Here’s how it works. Pick something you really enjoy doing (e.g. rugby, chess, tennis, painting, cooking, etc.). Then, look online for a club focused on that sport or activity in the place you’re visiting. Nine times out of ten, a club will A) exist, and B) have a website or Facebook page.
Once you track that info down, find a club point of contact - likely the e-mail for the club’s president or secretary. Then, drop him or her an e-mail saying something along the lines of “hey I’m visiting this new town, love [insert activity here], and would love to connect with some locals.” Unlike a random cold call, you’re immediately bonded by a shared passion for something. And, there’s a good chance the person you e-mail will let you know about a list of future events the club’s having that you can join.
This approach is almost like cheating; it’s that easy. Nearly immediately, you’re connected with a group of people who share some passion of yours - just in a different part of the world!
Volunteer with Local Charities
This final option somewhat dovetails off the above one. Volunteering with a local charity has the twofold benefit of 1) letting you give back in a new community, while 2) connecting you with like-minded people. And, volunteering options span a huge spectrum of possible activities. On one end, you can fully immerse yourself in a local, impoverished community in some capacity (e.g. cooking and cleaning three meals a day at a local soup kitchen).
But, on the other end of the spectrum, you can still do some good without 100% committing to the volunteer existence. For example, say you’re traveling through Southeast Asia. While the beaches there are some of the most spectacular in the world, they unfortunately have to deal with a ton of trash washing ashore. Plenty of local groups organize beach clean-ups - a great way to help beautify a local area, spend time at the beach, and meet some great locals.
Bottom line, a ton of great options exist to meet people while traveling. But, the common thread for all of them is that you have to be willing to put yourself out there. With the incredible friends we’ve met on the road, we can say that it’s absolutely worth the effort!
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