How to Meet Travelers Abroad: Find a Travel Buddy
April 13, 2019
The Most Practical Ways to Actually Meet Travelers on Your Next Trip
I am a huge advocate of solo travel because the connections you make with people on the road are the most memorable part of travel. But, I also don’t want to sugar coat anything. Solo travel is not easy. You will have the highest highs and the lowest lows during your trip. Why? You will have to put yourself in a slightly uncomfortable position in order to meet people, but going out of your comfort zone leads to great reward. Your experiences will be heightened because you are vulnerable. On the flip side, solo travel can be lonely and challenging. You are the only one responsible for you, and it can be tiring to always be the one watching out for yourself. Plus, you won’t always meet people and hit it off. There will be solo meals and solo sightseeing days where your mind gets a little too much time to itself to think. But with that said, every best memory I have had traveling is from a solo adventure. After three months on my own, plus many other solo trips prior, these are the most practical tools I use to meet travelers abroad.
One of the ways I have been most successful in meeting people on trips is via Facebook Group. I not only join groups for my blogging business, but am in a bunch that strictly focus on people with a love for travel. If I arrive to a destination and haven’t met anyone yet, I will pull up a couple of these groups on Facebook and write a quick message…something to the effect of:
Most of the groups that I write in are more female-centric, but there are tons of groups out there both broad in scope and also specific to the region that you will be visiting. Some of my favorite groups are Girls vs Globe, Traveling in Europe, Travelettes, and Girls LOVE Travel.
Free Walking Tours
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling solo or not, one of the best things to do in any city is a free walking tour. I have done many free tours in all of my travels and because of the way the business works — tour guides are incentivized to make the tour the best it can be because they get paid by tips at the end of the tour — all have been worthwhile. Of course, there is no guarantee, but there is a decent chance that other solo travelers or groups of friends who are happy to meet new people will be taking the same tour as you.
Typically, at the beginning of the tour, the guide will do a little ice breaker and ask where everyone is from. If there is a hometown or current city match, people generally go and introduce themselves on the way to the first attraction on the tour. In order to find out the best free walking tour in your destination, either type in “free walking tour ______” into Google or go on TripAdvisor and search for the best free walking tour under “things to do.” Sandeman’s New Europe is a great company to use for free walking in tours in almost all major European cities. Sandemans also hosts community events in different cities where you help to beautify the city by volunteering to pick up litter for an hour, go on a specialized city tour, and drink a beer with fellow participants.
Personally, I don’t feel comfortable using Couchsurfing as a solo female traveler as a way to procure accommodation. Now, I know many others who have and it has been a wonderful experience, but I prefer to pay my way for a little peace of mind; of course, bad things can happen anywhere. That being said, Couchsurfing is not limited to hosting. I learned this from a girl I met through a Facebook group when we met up for coffee in Bilbao, Spain.
Download the app, fill out a profile, and if you scroll down on the dashboard, you will find a section titled “Upcoming Events.” Click “Search for Events” and put in the city that you will be visiting. Not only are there weekly Couchsurfing meetings in most major cities, but there are generally events most nights of the week for you to choose from.
Girl Gone International
For my fellow solo female travelers out there, do yourself a favor and join the Girl Gone International chapter in the destination that you will visiting. I first discovered Girl Gone International from a girl at a travel networking event in Budapest. She mentioned that it was a global organization and that I should join the Facebook group. There were events multiple times a week and the group of girls were so friendly that I joined the Girl Gone International chapter(s) in Los Angeles — where I live full-time — as well.
For a more professional resource, you should look into obtaining a membership at Internations or sign up for one of their events. I learned about this organization for the first time during an event with Girls Gone International and was immediately intrigued. While I have yet to attend, I imagine this is best suited for digital nomads or people moving to a city/country for a new job. It could also be useful for people looking to meet new people with similar interests in their current place of residence. You will need to pay to attend events without a membership, but they seem to be great events at a relatively inexpensive pricepoint.
Ok, so it’s a little creepy…but I can now say that I have mastered the art of the Instagram DM. Now, I am not trying to date someone here with the slide. I am looking for other content creators like myself who would be willing to either get up at dawn to take photos at the most popular tourist attractions or head out at golden hour to get the shots with that orange glow. I did this in Budapest, for example, on my first full day in the city. After typing in #Budapest on Instagram, I went through the top photos and looked for creators like myself with a similar following who had posted in Budapest recently with a caption that said something to the effect of, “Just made it to Budapest for the next 4 days…Can’t wait to explore this city!”
Once I found a viable candidate, I would go to their profile and see if I could determine whether they were solo traveling as well and if they seemed like-minded. If I felt comfortable at this point, I would send that person a DM to see if they would be interested in meeting up in a public space around groups of people.
Finding travel companions through a hostel is by far the easiest way to meet travelers abroad. The key to a successful hostel stay? Check in and plop yourself down in a bean bag chair in the lobby. Chat up everyone that comes through and I can pretty much guarantee you will have a date for dinner that night. In fact, many hostels do a family dinner, some free and some paid. So, while you may want to try the local cuisine for the rest of the time in your destination, participating in family dinner will be great for meeting other people that first night.
If you prefer to stay in a different kind of accommodation like Airbnb, apartment, or hotel, there are still many hostels that have bars where you can stop by for drinks and conversation with fellow travelers.
While the above options are my personal favorites when it comes to finding a travel buddy abroad, there are still many more ways to do so. You can sign up for a volunteer program like Workaway or WOOFing, or choose a guided tour with companies like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, and Contiki. And although some of these ways to meet travelers are more intuitive than others, you just never know who you may stumble upon during your travels! I was sitting by a canal in Venice, Italy eating a baguette and brie while drinking wine and decided to go up and talk to a couple of girls sitting nearby. I ended up hitting it off with two of the girls and we traveled to Florence together after.
How do you meet people abroad? Let us know in the comments!