We often heard that you are never truly alone when you travel. I am not sure how true is that but I personally experience that when I travel. During my first solo trip late 2016, I was really nervous the first night I arrived in Indonesia. The thought of being alone for the entire trip is so overwhelming.
But from the very start of my trip till 2 months later, I have company nearly every single day that there are days, I just want to be alone. Not in the bad way, but just merely having some alone time. But of course, you cannot expect people to mingle with you if you do not take the initiatives on your own.
Here are some ways you can meet people when you travel.
I love couchsurfing and I cannot emphasize how useful this platform is. There are many ways you can utilize this cultural exchange platform which is very much misused by travelers as a platform to get free accommodation. If you are traveling to another country and would love to get to know the locals better. You can choose always opt to crash in a local host’s place. What better way to meet people than actually staying with them.
If you find that uncomfortable, you can always choose to leverage on the hangout’s feature on couchsurfing. In which you can meet up locals and travelers nearby. You can read more on my couchsurfing experience in Thailand and Indonesia.
Volunteering program is another way you can meet people during your travels while giving back to the community. There are plenty of platform out there offering such opportunities. But be mindful as some programs charge an initial fee for logistic and donation purposes. There are lots of different thoughts on this if the money is really going back to the those who really needed it.
At the end of the day, researching is still the best way to go. One of the platform I use is workaway that have literally thousands of projects around the world. The cool part about workaway is that you can find projects that accept short term volunteers which is ideal for me. I previously volunteered in Thailand and the experience is unforgettable.
3.Stay in backpackers hostel
If you are traveling alone, opt to stay in backpackers hostel! That is the best way or guaranteed way you can meet like minded people. The thing about backpackers hostel is most of the travelers travel alone or with another friend in which they are looking for friends to mingle and go for day trip together.
There are common area for backpackers to mingle around. And you are sleeping in the dormitory where a number of people will be sleeping close to you. These are place where plans are made. Know of a place nearby that have good food? You can easily suggest the place and head out with a bunch of people who are interested. One good way to to look for hotels through agoda by reading through the reviews.
You definitely cannot meet people if you opt to stay in a hotel. Mainly because everyone will be staying in their room.
4.Follow a day tour
I personally do not like tour traveling, something which my parents like. But as much as I dislike tour traveling, there are times where taking a day tour is the most convenient and affordable way to visit a certain place. Like how I paid for a tour when I was in trekking in Sapa. You need a guide to help you move around the trek and chances are, almost everyone would be following the guided tour.
Those are good opportunities to meet other travelers.
Joining or attending a class or program is another good way you can try. May it be a language class or cooking class. In my case, I joined a cooking class when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love Thai food!! Picture yourself learning a new language in another country. You are definitely going to be learning with a bunch of other travelers who would you would later keep in touch and hangout with.
What if you are going for a short tip? As language classes will usually take months of commitment, you can choose to attend classes such as muay thai classes, yoga classes, meditation classes and etc. These classes are a good way to pick up a new skill (learning thai cooking) and meet new new people at the same time.
I have not personally experience this but I have met lot of travelers who actually met through some festivals. In the case of Thailand, usually the full moon party. But I am not surprised, you party together and if you happen to click, you would obviously make plans to travel together. A good way is to constantly keep a look out for festivals and events around the place you are traveling to.
7.Talk and meet people during your commute
I took the train when I was traveling from Bangkok to Lopburi. In case you do not know, that is a 2 to 3 hours train ride. The trip is not that long that I am able to sleep but it is not too short as well. I can choose to either read a book or talk to the people next to me.
If you have not done this, you would most likely be afraid. You would have thoughts like, ‘what if they doesn’t want to talk?’ ‘What if they ignore you?’ Most of the time (most not all), travelers would love to talk if you initiate a conversation. They are in the same position as you as well. Traveling alone and bored during commute. So next time you are commuting, strike a conversation and meet new people.
Meetups is another platform you can use to meet new people. The concept is pretty similar to the hangouts feature in couchsurfing where you can look to join activities nearby. I have not personally try this but this is definitely a great platform to meet people when you travel.
The only concern is that meetup might not be heavily used in the place you are traveling too. If that is the case, you can always fall back to the 7 other ways listed above.
Rule of thumb
There are are hundred of others ways you can meet people and those are just some it. As much as we want to meet new people when we travel, it is always wise to be extra careful when you do so. If you decide to use platform such as couchsurfing, meetups or even volunteering program, it is always good to read through reviews and references from other travelers.
If you are in doubt if someone is worth traveling, then don’t take the risk meeting them up. It is not like they are the only ones out there.
What other ways have you tried?