One of the best parts of traveling is meeting new people who can expose you to their culture, experiences, and stories. Meeting people in a foreign country may seem difficult, and even impossible, but it is far from it. There are many ways to make new friends as you explore the world. I’ve made some of my best friends across the globe; all it took was some initiative on my part and maybe a few glasses of vino.
Chat up employees
Chatting up an employee of a restaurant or café may be the easiest to do, because these people are paid to talk to you. The same way you may ask a waiter at home what the specials are, ask a waiter abroad where all the locals hang out and what they do. They’ll give you the best tips because they talk to locals about where to go almost every day. Maybe you’ll even be invited out for some gelato after their work shift.
Look up local activities
No matter where you go, there are bound to be many group activities. Whether it’s a yoga class, surfing lesson, or language course, attending a local event is a great way to get a taste of the culture while also meeting other travelers. When I went to Dublin, I attended a tour of the Jameson distillery. After taste-testing multiple brands of whiskey, my table of ten strangers and I couldn’t stop talking and laughing (very loudly).
Stay in a hostel
Hostels are one of the best ways for travelers to meet other travelers, namely because everyone there is a traveler themselves. Many people staying at a hostel are looking for others to share a few pints and maybe even wander with, and the setup of hostel life makes it really easy to do. I’ve gone out and explored cities with groups of girls who shared the same room as me, and others often make friends through the bar and pub crawls that many hostels offer. During one of my stays abroad, I met a duo that had met in a hostel in China and then decided to travel all of Asia together. All you really have to do is initiate a conversation, and the rest will flow from there.
Use the internet
Thanks to the internet, there are so many options to help you meet people that it is almost overwhelming. Meetup.com is a popular resource where you can meet people who are not only in the same city as you, but also have the same interests. CouchSurfing is another website aimed towards helping travelers find a free place to stay with locals and a resource for travelers in the same country to connect. Because the accommodations offered by the site are with locals, you will already be well on your way to meeting people abroad.
Kevin Bacon style
Use the concept of six degrees of separation to your advantage when traveling abroad. Chances are you know someone who knows someone living in a city that you are traveling to. Ask for an introduction, send them a Facebook message – just find a way to connect with them. Not only will you meet someone who can show you the lay of the land, you’ll undoubtedly be introduced to their friends and peers. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up meeting Kevin Bacon!