Traveling alone to a new place, whether it’s a new state or a new country, can be scary. There’s the fear of not speaking the language, not knowing anyone, or not being familiar with the culture, but don’t let this deter you! That’s completely normal and to be expected. We’ve compiled a list of ways to meet people while traveling abroad and getting better acquainted with your surroundings.
Choose your Housing Wisely
If you’re trying to make friends, choose hostels that have a reputation for mingling, group activities, and a bar. I met a lot of people in Europe through the hostel bar and from there, the adventure would begin.
Along that same vein, if you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, there are bed and breakfasts and hostels that cater to specific clients. If you’re looking for a spiritual getaway, going to a yoga retreat is a potential option. Thinking about what you want in advance can help you connect with people who have similar goals for their vacation as you do.
Go on Group Tours
Tours were another great way to meet folks from all over the world. Sandeman Tours was great for this as the guides are young, knowledgable and the tours are free (tipping is highly recommended though). You can usually spot their red tour guide pamphlets at the local Starbucks and they’re active in most popular tourist destinations such as Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and New York.
Tinder gets a lot of flack for being a hook-up tool, but it’s evolved to be so much more than that (and still that). It allows you to connect with other expats and locals who know the land and if you’re not really feeling the vibe, there’s no pressure to meet up with them. At the very least, you can ask them for tips on what to do. It’s pretty risk-free and doesn’t require that much time or cost anything to use. If you don’t have the app already, you can find it here for iPhones and here for Android phones.
Get Involved with the Community
The following suggestions might be applicable for those who are going to be in the country/state a little longer. When I first moved to Florida for a summer internship, I knew absolutely no one. While it was scary at first and my friends can attest to the fact that I hated it and declared, “this place sucks,” I grew to appreciate its quirks and the natural beauty it has to offer.
The first way I got more involved was to:
Attend Yelp Events
I’m lucky enough to be Yelp Elite so it comes with cool perks like free food! Disclaimer: that was probably one of the top motivators for becoming Elite, not gonna lie.
Our first one was at Longhorn Steakhouse, where we learned about the different cuts of steak (there are a lot) and the best temperatures to grill them at. Here is the steak that was pretty much the size of my face:
I got to meet a lot of fellow foodies and one of them even turned out to know one of my coworkers! This could be a good way to get to know the locals and also ask them for more tips on what to do around the area.
Meetup is a great site that connects you with other locals based on your interests. So if hiking is your jam, you can select that in your preferences and Meetup will suggest groups for you. After joining a group, you will start getting alerts about upcoming events and you can also check your Meetup calendar to see what’s happening. The interests range from Toastmasters to Spiritual to Karoake. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Traveling alone can be daunting at first, but after I got used to it, I began to enjoy it. It’s great because it can be a time to reflect and get to know yourself better without the noise of being surrounded by the familiar. I feel like it pushes you out of your comfort zone in order to become more aware of you, who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, what you need, what you thrive upon. At first, being alone in a new place can be lonely or depressing and you might be calling your friends and parents on the daily. I was. But now, that restlessness has been replaced with gratitude for having the opportunity to explore, learn, and do pretty much whatever I want. The freedom is intoxicating. As one of my culinary heroes says, “We find out more about ourselves when we travel than about the places we visit.”
Tell us how you handle traveling alone in the comments below!