5 Tips for Meeting People While Traveling

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Photo: Lazare

If you’re traveling solo for work, or find yourself traveling alone for some other reason, you might enjoy your destination more if you had a few people to share in it. And while it may seem intimidating to reach out to strangers while visiting an unfamiliar place, in reality it can actually be easier to strike up conversation with other tourists because they’re likely in the same boat.

Think about it! It’s likely that no one in your hotel is a local (or they wouldn’t be staying there!), which means every guest is in an unfamiliar place looking for enjoyable ways to explore local culture and spend their time. It stands to reason that some of these tourists might benefit from some companionship too.

Here are some tips for meeting new people along your journey.

Post on your social media site. Before traveling, post on Facebook or Twitter about where you’re going. (Note: You should probably only do this if your privacy settings are restricted to friends. You don’t want to tip off the public that your house will be empty.) You might have online friends who live nearby your destination or who have friends in the area who might show you around.

Interact with locals. While at your destination, don’t be shy about talking to locals in the area. You can ask them for directions, restaurant recommendations, or run your itinerary by them. By getting their feedback, you may be able to get to know the local culture even better, because they’ll give you the behind-the-scenes tips not listed in the guidebooks.

Talk to other tourists as well. Don’t be shy in approaching them when you see them at your hotel lobby or wherever you’re staying at. Chances are you can help each other get around or just form an acquaintance. Who knows? They might have just visited a museum you’re headed to and might be able to suggest some pointers for saving time or money.

Join a tour or find a local guide. If you don’t want to roam around the place by yourself, you can always join tours. Contact the agencies that offer tours in your destination before your chosen date of travel because often there are discounts if you book them way ahead of the schedule. (Not to mention sometimes they get sold out!) While touring with their group, keep your eyes and ears open for citizens from your country or others who speak your language. You may be able to explore other non-tour options together later.

Hire a local instead. In this digital age, there are now agencies like Rent-A-GuideShiroubeWhos My Guide, and Tours by Locals that connect travelers with locals willing to show them around. This is a good option if you’re traveling on a budget, as local non-agency guides tend to require less payment. The downside of course is this may also mean guides are less vetted, so use common sense like traveling in groups, frequenting only public, lighted spaces, and reading any travel warnings published by the local government.

Pursue hobbies while traveling. Do you like to workout? You may fall into conversation with another fitness buff in the hotel’s gym or run into a walking buddy while making your morning rounds around the town square. Suggest meeting up for coffee to share about where you’ve been or re-connecting the following day to work out together.

Travel slow. When you can, take time to appreciate the place without a deadline. A schedule is good if you’re trying to squeeze a bunch of tourist spots into one trip. But there’s also value in being spontaneous. Find a local restaurant and visit every day to make friends with the waitstaff.  Revisit the same tourist spot a few times if you really enjoy it. The more you experience the same part of town, the more you will notice about the area, and the more chances you will have of getting to know the locals and their culture in more natural, non-touristy ways.