When traveling for either a short or extended period, it can often be difficult to meet like-minded, interesting people to spend your days and evenings with.
Sure, you can bump into some “single-serving friends” on the plane, in a hostel, or at a bar, but finding people who share your own interests can be a real challenge while on the road.
Here are 10 ways to use the Web to find new friends while you’re away from home.
You can search Meetup.com for different meetups in various cities around the world related to pretty much any interest you can imagine, from entrepreneurship or knitting, to Python or philosophy. Join a meetup group and stay updated via the meetup mobile app and/or email about upcoming get-togethers. If you’re in a city for a while (at least a few months) and the meetup you’re looking for doesn’t exist, simply start your own meetup group — it’s easy!
These are “nights” that are organised each week, or each month, in 700 cities around the world. At each event, there will be a selection of speakers who’ll give a short presentation (20 slides, each of which is displayed for 20 seconds) on an interesting project they’re working on, or a fascinating story they have to tell.
Before, during and after the event, you’ll have plenty of time to meet interesting people doing amazing things. Oh, and if you want to give a talk yourself, just shoot a message to the event organiser a week or so before you attend. You can find your nearest PechaKucha night on a map.
3. Facebook Groups
For many cities and larger towns, you’ll often be able to find a Facebook group where people are sharing knowledge and asking questions about the local area. Usually in these groups, you’ll easily be able to find people who’re happy to meet for a coffee or beer. If you don’t know the name of a relevant Facebook group, try searching for the name of the town or city by hitting “See all” in the search bar, then select “Groups”. This can also work for Google+ Communities too.
4. Online Forums
Simply search Google for “Forums: [Town/City]”, and find a number of online communities with members who’ll be glad to meet up. As more and more people take up long-term or even indefinite travel (while earning their salary on the road), you can also join communities such as the Dynamite Circle or The Anywhereists are packed with like-minded folk who’re living that same kind of nomadic digital lifestyle.
So long as you stick to the “top digital nomad locations“, there will always be people to grab lunch with!
If you have an iPhone, search Instagram (or use Websta.me if you’re using a browser) for hashtags related to where you are in the world, such as #ChiangMai, #NewYork, #NottingHillCarnival etc. Find some users who seem to share your interests, by basing your judgement on their bio, and photos they’ve taken.Leave a comment on a photo asking if they’d be interested in meeting up. Exchange email addresses, and take the discussion further from there.
Every day a huge number of couchsurfing events and parties happen around the globe. Find the one nearest to you and just turn up to meet passionate, interesting, funny guys and gals who’re in your neck of the woods.
You can even use Couchsurfing to meet new people in your hometown too!
Instead of choosing to stay in a hotel or your own apartment while traveling, consider using AirBnB to find a host who you can get to know, eat dinner with, go for drinks together and make real friendships. I’ve done this a few times myself, and have met some amazing people in the process. Before you book a room with your hosts, exchange a few messages and see what they’re interested in, whether they’re up for mingling etc. If they are, dive in, make the most of your AirBnB experience and find yourself a home away from home.
There are many specialised social sites that have sprung up around this very idea. BeWelcome is a non-profit that is another example of a traveler’s network — but with a unique approach. An open source network, joining the hospitality exchange site is free and a perfect opportunity to meet like-minded travelers. The working is simple — Members search for other members at their travel destination and contact them via the site. Locals on BeWelcome offer hospitality to travelers and/or can show them around. I haven’t tried out the site, but their footprint of nearly 60,000 members can be seen on this map.
Eventbrite as the name says, is similar to Meetup, but more focused on events (some of which you may have to buy tickets for). You can use the search to find out what’s going on in different parts of the world. You can search for events “this weekend”, “this month”, “next weekend” etc, which makes it super easy to find relevant results if you’re only in town for a few days. If you need a ticket to turn up to an event, usually you can simply register on Eventbrite, refresh the Android or iOS app, and the ticket will be saved to your phone.
Similar to Instagram, search Twitter for hashtags and mentions of where you are. The majority who’re tagging tweets from a certain place will be there themselves. If they look like the kind of people you could get on with, send them a tweet or direct message asking if they’d be up for getting together at some point. There is more than one way to find interesting people with Twitter, and one of it may give you the happy results you are looking for.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should always meet in a location where you’ll feel safe!
Meeting new people and turning them into lifelong friends could be the best part of any trip. It’s your turn to tell us about your travel experiences and the deliberate ways you have used to meet new people. Let us know which other online tools and resources you have used to meet people while traveling.
Image Credits: Friendship Via Shutterstock
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