August 25, 2015 3 min read
Whether you’re traveling on your own or with a companion, sometimes meeting cool locals can be the highlight of your trip. But what if you’re traveling to a new destination and don’t know anyone who actually lives there?
Enter the internet. Meeting cool people in a new destination has never been easier. Here are four networks that will help you meet people on your travels.
Couchsurfing.org first evolved as a way for travelers to connect online and provide each other with free accommodation as well as a dose of cultural exchange.
But it’s more than that. Couchsurfing also has a “coffee or a drink” option to meet up with locals without actually staying over their homes. It’s the perfect option if you’d like to meet people but would rather stay in a private accommodation.
Most major cities have regular Couchsurfing meetups on a weekly or monthly basis. Here you’ll find a cadre of locals who love to show off their city and a motley crew of travelers currently passing through. Newcomers are always welcomed with open arms!
What’s your interest? Knitting, Star Trek, live theater, Vietnamese food? In many cities, there’s a MeetUp group for just about any interest you have.
MeetUp groups plan local gatherings focused around their interests. It could be a meal at a local restaurant, a night at a bowling alley, or something else altogether.
And of course, there are plenty of groups of people who love travel! Groups like these are happy to welcome visitors from different parts of the world and chat about travel experiences.
To a non-Redditor, the community-based site, filled with upvotes and gold and offbeat celebrity interviews, is a bit of a mystery. To the avid Redditor, it’s the answer to every problem you could ever have.
Reddit has a subreddit, or digital community, for just about every interest or group, but one area that really shines is the local subreddits. Join the local subreddit for a city and you’ll find lots of locals eager to provide you with recommendations and suggestions.
Some local subreddits have wiki guides and destination advice as well, which can provide you with dining and sightseeing suggestions. As for meeting locals, you’ll find people looking for everything from members to join a kickball game to people looking for company at a new restaurant!
If you’re single, you never know—Tinder could be for you! Yes, it’s a dating app designed for people to match based on looks alone, but one of the great surprises of Tinder is that it’s good for getting to know a city.
If you match a local and be up front about the fact that you’re visiting for a few days, you could have a lot of fun going on a no-pressure date, getting to see some of the area that you’re visiting. And whether it’s jumping on the back of a date’s motorbike for a tour around an idyllic Greek island or meeting up for a stroll along the nicest boardwalk in town, you could walk away from the experience with a new friend—or something much more.
A Note on Safety
Meeting up with strangers you meet online can be very safe if you take the appropriate precautions. Always meet people in public places and notify a friend or family member of your plans before you go. If you feel uncomfortable in the least, it’s a good idea to listen to your gut and make an exit. Good luck and have fun!
At age 26, I quit my job to travel the world alone. I spent six fantastic months in Southeast Asia and turned my travel blog into a full-time business. Today, I travel full-time, going anywhere that sounds wacky or beautiful or interesting. My goal is to show YOU how you can travel the world on your own—easily, safely, and adventurously.
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