Honestly, there’s nothing better than experiencing a city through the locals. It’s just such a different experience and sometimes if I haven’t had enough time to meet people while I’m in a city, I feel a little remised that I may have missed out on such a better experience (FOMO alert!). Instead of sticking to the full-blown tourist path (which isn’t a bad idea and I still recommend on some level!), you deviate from the typical ‘what to do in ‘X’ city and go rogue into the cultural experience of how that city really is intended to feel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to pop into a new place or city and hit up the check list of all that place has to offer but there’s something to be said for spending a significant amount of time in one spot, to give yourself an opportunity to decompress a little. It allows you the ability to immerse yourself in a typical day-to-day life. Locals are the perfect avenue to help accomplish this, and I’ve found that most are just as excited to show you their city as you are to experience it through them. After all, they know their city way better than I do!
Let me know any other ways you’ve found it easy to meet people in a new location!
GROUP TOUR / ACTIVITY
I strongly recommend signing up for at least one tour while you’re in a new city. Although it seems so touristy, I’ve honestly never had a bad experience with a tour. In fact, I’ve always finished and thought to myself ‘that was totally worth it – can’t believe I almost didn’t go!’. I recommend finding a tour that first, you have an interest in, and second, one that lends itself to meeting other like-minded individuals around the same age (if this is of importance to you). In Greece, I signed up for a Catamaran Yacht Tour and it was amazing! I mean, being on the Aegean Sea in any way is honestly worth it in itself, but the guided tour, food/alcohol and other people I met topped it off. I was able to connect with and meet other people similar in age, who I then continued to hangout with once the tour ended. Another example – I signed up for a private sailboat tour in Bodrum, became friends with the captain, who then invited us over for dinner in his personal home. Honestly, nothing beat that experience, as it was so nice to meet and talk with his family to learn about their culture, life and experiences.
If you’re staying in a hostel, this is a great opportunity to meet other people who also have a passion for the very same thing you’re doing – traveling! Most hostels have a café, bar or other common areas where you can congregate and make an effort to meet other individuals. Although they’re likely not from the location in which you’re visiting, chances are they’re not where you’re from either so you can still experience a different culture together but with different perspectives. Hostels are somewhat of a toss up for me – the crowds tend to run a lot younger, and not having sufficient privacy makes it nearly impossible for me to do my work. Depending on the hostel and your agenda, this may still be a good option for a few nights right when you arrive in a new city!
I swear by this! When I was in Turkey, there were SO many other girls on this app who were doing the exact same thing I was – trying to find other people to explore and experience the city with. It’s kind of a mix of people from that location, as well as people like me. I connected with a couple of girls in Russia who were so sweet, and very helpful in recommendations. Most bigger cities have the app and also have quite a few users actively using it. Definitely give it a try!
GYM / FITNESS
Gym memberships and other fitness classes are usually not as expensive or commitment heavy abroad as they are in the U.S. A one month gym membership is relatively cheap in most places around Europe, and I’d be surprised if just about every place didn’t offer a daily or weekly rate, that’s also relatively inexpensive. Yoga is my preferred workout, so signing up for a yoga class in a new location is great for meeting other like-minded yogis – plus, you’re working out! So not only are you checking your workout off of your to-do list but you’re also exposing yourself to new situations that will increase your chances of meeting other people.
This one may surprise you, but sometimes you can get lucky with a REALLY cool host! They’re usually always so happy to help and give recommendations. I’ve also heard many stories of hosts and guests becoming friends, so much so that they hang out all the time, are introduced to their friends, etc. It heavily depends on your specific host but sometimes you can get one who prefers to go past the standard recommendations of things to do/places to eat in that city and will include you in their group of friends or even family events! Keeping my fingers crossed this happens at some point over the next few months of my travels!
OUT & ABOUT
I know sometimes when you’re traveling alone, it can be intimidating to get yourself out of the apartment/hostel/hotel. Since traveling alone is still a fairly new to me, I usually feel a little overwhelmed the first few days I’m in a new place. I take baby steps to push myself past this, and I’ll eventually start to loosen up and feel way more comfortable. Getting out is one of the best ways to meet other people, so don’t let your fear of a new place stop you from stepping out! When I was in Russia, this is how I met the group of people that we spent considerable time with while we were there. I happened to strike up conversation with the sweet barista (who was also so excited that I spoke English, as she was trying to practice hers) and later asked her if she’d like to grab a coffee later! She then introduced me to her friends and was so excited to show me her favorite local spots and the best kept secrets of St. Petersburg. To this day it is still one of my favorite travel experiences, solely for this reason!