Want to know how to make friends while traveling? Here’s the true answer: get out of your comfort zone and start chatting!
So, how do I make friends and meet new people while I’m traveling?
I’ve been asked this question a few times – I think because I love social media and tend to post online a lot about the people I’m meeting. When I was first asked, my answer was, “well, I don’t know, I just do!” But that’s not entirely true. Sure, I have a naturally chatty personality (where I basically harass people into being my friend), but I also use a few different strategies to meet people while I’m traveling.
Keep in mind: these are for making friends domestically. Abroad (where there are hostels!) it will be an entirely different thing, and I’ll likely do a post on that then.
I love Meetup.com. Even before I was traveling, I used Meetup to meet some of my best friends at home! I joined a women’s running group and a vegan group, and I developed some amazing friendships out of those. While traveling then, Meetup is even more important! I’ve used it to go to a vegan dinner group in San Diego, as well as a travelers’ meetup in San Antonio! It’s a cool website that makes it easy to meet people with similar interests, so check it out!
The Couchsurfing app has a relatively new feature called “Hangouts”, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a way to meet people in the city you are in to hangout! This can be used both domestically and abroad (although, it’s probably more robust abroad). Even just Couchsurfing in general, though, is an excellent way to link up with people for dinner or drinks or just a fun activity. I met a super cool new friend in Vegas that I now text all the time through Couchsurfing!
3. Bumble & Bumble BFF
Okay, so this is less “meeting” people and more “dating” people, but the truth is if you are traveling full-time and aren’t into a relationship, as long as you disclose that upfront, the people you meet on Bumble are more likely to become great friends. Bumble also has a feature called “Bumble BFF” which lets you go through people just looking for friends! Definitely worth a try!
4. My airBNB host
Sometimes, your airBNB host will be someone that totally wants to keep to themselves and not chat at all. I find most often, though, that this isn’t the case! People get into airBNB to make money, sure, but a lot of times, they are also people who like getting to know new folks coming through their home! I’m besties with some of the cooler airBNB hosts I’ve met along this trip, but at the very least, most have been willing to grab a bite with me or let me tag along to hang with their friends.
5. My server or barista
Yes, I’m that annoying person that’s like “can you tell me about your favorites on the menu?” and “how long have you worked here?” and “are there any fun things to do around here?” Sometimes, servers and baristas hate me. Most of the time, though, they are happy to engage back and occasionally, they offer to tour guide me around! You never know how you’ll meet people, so be open to everything!
6. Facebook groups
Just like Meetups, there’s probably a Facebook group for almost everything. Search your city and interest, and you’ll likely find a bunch of people who are willing to meet up with you in person and do fun stuff! I met a new friend in Portland this way; I posted in a group that I was in town for a bit and desperate for friends, and she took me to lunch the next day. People are great; you just have to seek them out. 🙂
7. Doing activities solo
Sometimes, just by doing something alone, you’ll get out and meet a new friend. For example, on some of my vegan dining excursions alone, I’ve struck up conversations with people at the next table. Or going for a walk with my puppy alone, I’ve met folks along the way. The key is to make sure you get out and DO things – don’t wait for people to come to you!
There are so many ways to make friends while traveling, but you have to be open to meeting people in unusual ways. Get out there, be friendly, and you’ll be surprised how many fantastic people you meet!