Whenever I travel I end up meeting the most interesting people. Yet others will go on a an epic adventure and come back having met their great aunt from Munich, and a cousin their age if they’re lucky. Here are some simple steps to meeting people while travelling:
- Say Yes – I met a nice group of girls from Ecuador while playing beach volleyball in Mexico, and they invited me out with them for the night. Of course I said yes! Yes it takes a trust in other people, yes that could backfire in an instant. However, If you step back and let these people just walk past you you will never be presented with some of the amazing opportunities that come your way in the future because of it. It’s the best way to meet locals and people from around the world with whom you may connect with in the future.
- Talk to everyone – It doesn’t matter if ‘s the person you’re sharing a room with in a hostel, the barrista at the corner cafe, the sports animation team at the resort, or the person behind you in a buffet line. I once went to an interview in Munich for a study abroad course, and met the nicest guy while sitting outside waiting to go in to talk to the director of the program. My nerves calmed right down, and we ended up swapping contact info in case I got into the program and needed help around the city.
- Stay in hostels/dorms – Hostels have rooms with up to 20 beds, so it’s a great way of meeting people. Check for the hostel social nights often posted in the lobby. If you are scared on nervous to talk to people, ask them a simple question like “Hey, do you know the WiFi password here?” or “do you know if there’s a laundromat around here?”. From there it’s easy to move on to “where are you from”, “how long have you been here?”, “what have you seen so far?”. These people might be able to give you helpful hints that will help you enjoy your time there!
- Couchsurf – This one needs a whole post on itself. Couchsurfing is an online community that allows travelers to be hosted by locals at their house. The community is amazing, and full of fascinating people of all ages. There are weekly & monthly meet ups in almost every city of the world, and their online website makes it very easy to meet people and request a couch, OR host someone. I have had only great experiences couchsurfing sofar. This again takes a certain trust in the people you are staying with. I do a lot of research, add them on Facebook, alert family and friends of where I’m staying (and the address and names of the person/couple/family), and I always have a back up accommodation in mind just in case. www.couchsurfing.org
- Volunteer – If you are in a place for an extended time, don’t be afraid to contact a local organization and see if you can volunteer. As a teacher. I have used the opportunity to take a look into international classrooms worldwide. I contact the school a few days before, ask if it would be ok to volunteer for a day. I usually end up making a presentation on what Canada is like, and then help with English classes. It’s a great way to network in your profession, and see what the culture and daily life is like in that country.
- Sit and eat at a community table – These are the long tables that are in the middle of restaurants. They often let different groups of people sit here. Sit down for a snack and chat up the people around you.
- Sign up for Activities. – Hostels, student organizations, tour companies, they all offer activities. Take an afternoon and go experience local dance lessons at the restaurant, or head on that crazy Colosseum pub crawl that everyone keeps on talking about!
- Find long lost relatives – Ask around and see if you have any relatives in far away places. With Facebook it’s so easy to reconnect with people, and being able to meet and stay with family is always a great experience.