Last week, I was catching up with a girlfriend of mine and telling her about my recent Asia trip. She asked me about Bangkok and I couldn’t stop raving about it, what a great city it was, how much fun I had.
When she asked what I did, I told her about my night partying on Khao San Road with some people I’d met at my hostel, getting bed bugs at a hole-in-the-wall massage place (good times), checking out the Chatuchak Weekend Market one Saturday afternoon, and eating at a weird condom restaurant on my last night.
“How many days were you there for?”
“And that’s all you did?”
I realized that for a city I have such fond memories of, I didn’t do all that much. And when I think back to it, I spent most of my time…hanging out at my hostel.
I didn’t go to the Grand Palace, or see any of the temples, or go to the Jim Thompson House. Instead, I spent the majority of my day hanging out in the yard and hostel with the friends I’d met there.
I love meeting people while traveling. People who live on opposite ends of the world connecting because they’re both at the same place, at the same time. People who you wouldn’t meet otherwise, bringing a new perspective into your life, and making an impact whether big or small.
Some people are worried about traveling by themselves and I say, don’t be! It’s really easy to make new friends on the road.
1. Stay at a hostel
There will be plenty of solo travelers or groups of friends to meet here but not all hostels are created the same. On HostelWorld.com, you can check out a hostel’s atmosphere which gives you a good indication of the general vibe. A higher atmosphere rating means a more social environment and a place that’s more prone to meeting people.
2. Hang out at a hostel
Prefer the luxury of a queen bed and private bathroom at a hotel? Some hostels are open to visitors and you can hang out in their common areas, like the lounge or bar; just make sure you read up on their policy.
3. Stay in a private room on Airbnb
A private room usually means you’re sharing the space with the local host or other guests. It’s like a hostel but on a much smaller scale. If they have time, many hosts are more than happy to hang out with their guests and will even invite them out with their friends. See what they say under “Interaction with guests” to get a feel for whether your host will be your local BFF or an elusive roommate.
4. Stay at a homestay
A homestay might be the experience you’re looking for if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture. You get to live with a local family, sharing meals, and have a home away from home.
Another great way to meet locals is to crash on their couch! Couchsurfing is a safe, budget-friendly accommodation option and people all over the world have opened up their homes to fellow travellers as part of a large couch surfing community.
6. Find a travel buddy online
Find fellow travellers on the same route through sites like Lonely Planet, TravBuddy, and even Facebook. A simple search for travel buddies will generate hundreds of groups set up for people to meet others at the same destination.
7. Go on a day tour
When you’re walking around in a group for a few hours, you’re naturally going to chat with each other and start bonding with certain people. I find the free walking tours, which are offered in many cities across the globe, generally attract the solo travellers and under-35 demographic.
8. Go on a packaged group tour
Need your wolf pack? Companies like Contiki, G Adventures, and Under 30 Experiences offer multi-day tours for 20 and 30-somethings wanting to travel in a group environment.
9. Grab a drink at an expat bar
I get that you didn’t fly across the Atlantic to watch American football, listen to the Foo Fighters, and eat hamburgers, but an expat bar brings people together who are looking for familiarity, including someone who can speak their language. It’s the spot for reliable conversation and familiar surroundings.
10. Party with locals
Want to party with locals instead? Let the website with a self-explanatory name, Partywithalocal.com, break the ice for you. The app connects you with locals who are looking for their next dance crew and boasts a global community of “nightlife enthusiasts”.
11. Sign up for a pub crawl
Speaking of easily making friends when alcohol’s involved, a pub crawl is a guaranteed hit for new friendships abroad. There are companies that host their own pub crawl or you can find them through a local hostel.
12. Get matched on Tinder
Connect with young and eligibles nearby via everyone’s favourite dating app. Who knows? You might find true love was only a flight and swipe away!
13. Take a class
Signing up for a class is a great way to meet people with the same interests. Yogis can get their namaste on with other yogis, and amateur cooks can test their skills in the kitchen alongside other cooks.
14. Just talk to people
Of course, the simplest way to meet people is to just talk to the people around you, while you’re in transit, sitting at a coffee shop, or relaxing at the park. Keep comfort items (i.e. your phone and book) in your bag, and strike up a conversation with the person beside you. Isn’t putting yourself out there and getting out of your comfort zone what solo traveling’s all about?
How do you meet people while traveling?