Hello again! Sorry for the delay in posting, but travel life has been a bit hectic lately – all will be explained soon. It’s been long enough since I wrote my “How to Make Friends on the Road” series, so let’s get to it – Part 2.
The Internet today is usually blamed for disconnecting us more than it’s credited with connecting us, but as with everything else in this world, what it actually does depends on how you use it. Stupid people use it to work out their rage issues in Youtube comment sections. Smart people – obviously people like you, my lovely readers – use it to get even smarter (better, faster, stronger…you get the picture).
Being able to connect online has brought people from all over the world closer together than ever before. As an added bonus for our purposes, the Internet has established great ways to not only meet locals when you travel, but also find people who actually share similar interests.
So whether you’re really into nightlife or nature hikes or dodgeball or cosplay or laughing at terrible movies (my weird little hobby, in case you’re wondering), you can find someone on the other side of the world who enjoys the same strange things you do! More seriously though, meeting up with locals who share your interests means you will get to experience a unique side of your destination that will feel like it was made for you.
Don’t you want to find the best hiking trails, photography views or foodie spots in your next city, depending on your preferences?
Here’s how you can do it!
Oh, and in case you missed it, go back and learn the very first step for making friends on the road.
Facebook Groups: “Girls Love Travel”
This goes out specifically to my fellow female solo (or couple or group) travelers! Joining Facebook groups with like-minded travelers is always a good idea, whether for travel inspiration or simply asking for advice on new places you plan to visit. However, women on the road, especially women traveling alone, usually have specific concerns and challenges they need to address.
Enter groups like “Girls Love Travel”, run by moderator Haley Woods. I have been a member of this group for years, which has now grown to just over 1 million members strong! Not only have I received great advice from travelers and locals alike about things to do in a city, great places to eat, travel safety tips for women, etc., I have also connected with several lovely travel-loving ladies and even met up with a couple of them in the places I visit!
Over the years, I have seen the Girls Love Travel group help out in so many situations; women arriving at a city and having last-minute accommodation issues finding a place to stay, women sharing incredibly helpful tips for destinations around the world, women who got broken up with while abroad finding new friends in that city to meet up with and have a good time. Joining “Girls Love Travel” will reinvigorate your faith in sisterhood.
Meetup: “Find Your People”
It’s right in the site’s tagline: Meetup helps you find YOUR people. Look up the groups available in the city you’re traveling to, and join the one(s) that’s right for you. There is no interest too narrow or offbeat here. Especially in the cities where Meetup has majorly caught on, which is a fair amount by now, you can find fellow photographers, hikers, drinking buddies, moms, dancers, app designers, language nerds – literally any hobby or interest you can think of. And isn’t it better to meet up with locals that will let you know all about the parts of a city that will really interest you? The best historic sites, dance classes, and furry conventions in your new city are just a click away.
Couchsurfing: Not Just For Crashing
Hear me out! For those of you who are wary of crashing on a stranger’s couch, that’s not what I’m asking you to do here. A lot of people don’t know that Couchsurfing.com has an option for meeting up with locals instead of staying on their couch, or floor, or closet – sometimes codenamed “spacious NY studio”. You can browse profiles of locals and view their interests and hobbies to see if you match up. Send them a message in advance to see if they’d be interested in meeting up with you. If they’re not, they didn’t deserve you anyway and there’s other fish in the sea. It’s not you, it’s them. So send someone else a message, then get on the plane and go!
VizEat: Friends & Food
I believe meeting someone over a dinner table forges the best connection. Or maybe I just really love any excuse to scarf down some damn food. Whatever. All I know is that I have used VizEat in the past and would highly recommend it to other travelers. You enter a local’s home as a dinner guest, and bond with other travelers and locals over a delicious meal – usually traditional regional dishes and food. If it’s available in the city you’re traveling to, don’t miss out!
Meet2Talk: For My Language Nerd Peeps
If you’re a meganerd like me and think learning a new language is an awesomely fun way to pass the time, this one’s for you! The rest of you weirdos can skip on down. With Meet2Talk, you can meet up with locals and get a nice little crash course in the local language. Find speakers who also want to learn your native language and meet up for coffee to talk about whatever you like and learn some key words. Meet2Talk can also be used before you even leave, if you want to get some basics of a destination’s language down before departure. And remember, the world will not end if you mess up!
Vayable: Local Experiences
Vayable is great both for meeting people and getting “like a local” experiences. Sign up for one of the many, MANY tours created by locals, and join them on a trip around their hometown. From street art in LA to the best sushi in Tokyo, you can discover the things that interest you and get to know a cool new friend in the process.
Tripr: Connect From Your Phone
Whether you just want to get advice about a destination from residents or actually meet up in person, Tripr can help you find the right people to help out. Simply enter your upcoming travel dates and destinations, and you’ll get to see who will be in town at the same time. The app is a little glitchy sometimes, but overall it’s a useful program.
Tinder: Yes, Seriously
The app that gets a bad rap for terribly propositioned one-night stands and dick pics CAN actually be useful. As long as you’re willing to risk the errant dick pic, I guess. Whether you want to actually go out on a date and start a probably-ill-advised-yet-fun travel fling, or just want to meet someone platonically, Tinder will find locals near you to connect with. If you just want to meet up as friends, specify that in your messages – most Tinderers (?) looking for sex will probably stop responding then, and you can move on to people that are using their upper brain.