Everyone is always looking for ways to meet new people while they are traveling, especially when traveling alone. There are so many great ways to meet awesome people who are excited to show you around their beloved city and get to know you, all it takes is a little push out of your comfort zone. Once you step out of it enough times it will become your new normal and approaching new people will become second nature. Until you get there, here are a few ideas for ways to take that first step out of your comfort zone and start building connections and making friends.
Most of the people staying at a hostel are there to meet people, so go ahead and approach them. If there is a deck of cards around, ask if they want to play a game (just don’t say it in a creepy Saw like voice). As a game lover this is one of my favourite conversation starters. It could be kings cup or president; teach them a game from your country and have them teach you one from theirs. Before you know it the ice will be broken. If you don’t have a deck of cards or don’t like games then just walk over to a group of people, sit down and say hi. Trust me, everything will be okay.
2. Sign up for organized activities or tours
I love tours and organized activities. When you are in a city for a short period of time you want to get the most out of it. There are many tour companies that do more than just show you the typical landmarks around the city. Lokafy allows you to pick a tour guide who has similar interests and then connect with them before the tour to discuss what kinds of things you would like to do. The tours provide an authentic city experience customized to you. Tours and organized activities are a great way to meet people who are likeminded and open to interaction. So find one that you’re interested in and go meet some new friends.
3. Tinder or Bumble
When my best friend and I were traveling around Europe we decided to download Tinder and Bumble. We didn’t use the apps for dating purposes, but instead to meet people and have them show us around town. We would fill out our bio stating that we were looking for a tour guide and could pay them by way of a free lunch. We met so many awesome people who were more than happy to show us around and hang out for the day. You can repurpose your apps however you want. Many of my friends also use Instagram and Facebook to connect with people while traveling.
While traveling you find yourself eating out a lot. A home cooked meal can really hit the spot if you can convince someone to make you one. EatWith is a website where you can find a dinner partner who will have you over to their place and cook for you. Most hosts are professional chefs and only 4% of the people who apply to be EatWith hosts are accepted, so you can be sure it will be worth it. All you have to do is peruse the menus that hosts have posted and choose your favourite then get all dolled up, or don’t, and head over for dinner.
5. Couchsurfing or AirBnB
While I was traveling for three months there were times when I didn’t want to stay in a hostel, but still wanted to meet locals, so I would book an AirBnB. What’s great about an AirBnB is that you can contact your host ahead of time and get to know them. This allows you to get a feel for if you would vibe with them and then once you get there they are more than happy to show you their city. Your host can take you to their favourite local spots and introduce you to their friends; you might even hit it off and become good friends. If you don’t love the idea of a hostel or want to mix it up then AirBnB is a great option. If you are more adventurous you can also couchsurf. Couchsurfing provides you with a very similar experience to AirBnB, except it’s free.
6. Attend local festivals
While planning your trip pay attention to local festival dates and try to be in that city while they are happening. Festivals attract large groups of locals and travellers alike; Oktoberfest in Germany, Running of the Bulls in Spain, the Calgary Stampede in Canada. Attending a festival will allow you to meet new people and have a blast doing it.
7. Introduce yourself to a stranger
This one might be the scariest of the bunch. Walking up and introducing yourself to a stranger in public is anxiety inducing for many of us, as the fear of rejection can be overwhelming. What you’ll learn though is that it’s not so bad. If you don’t vibe you can just say goodbye and move on to another person. Every time you approach someone new it will become easier to strike up a conversation and you’ll learn to pick people out who you get along with. Best-case scenario; you will meet someone really cool. Worst-case scenario; you will have a funny story about a not so great interaction. You just have to look at it in a new light. We will talk more on introducing yourself to strangers next week. I will be putting together a list of some of the best approaches to take when introducing yourself and when you should do it. You know how to do it; you just need some practice and a few suggestions.
Are there any places to meet new people that you know of, which weren’t included on this list?