How to Meet Locals When Traveling Alone

by Susan Finch

Sep 20, 2019

Quezaltenango locals, Guatemala © Sjors737 | Dreamstime

Tips / Travel

Just a decade or so ago, it would have been considered an anomaly for someone to intentionally travel alone unless for business or a personal matter. Today’s travelers come in all sizes, from large groups to nomadic families and solo vacationers. But traveling alone doesn’t mean you need to forgo socializing on the road. Here are six simple ways to meet someone new while traveling.


Volunteering is a fun and frugal way to hit the road. Trade skills or service for room and board at sites like WWOOF or Help Stay. You can also look for volunteer opportunities that last just a few hours as part of your self-funded trip. Grace Bay Club in Turks and Caicos connects guests with a local youth center, nursing home or national museum to lend a hand during their vacation. And guests at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico connect guests to local schools to teach English and math or play a game of baseball with the kids. Whatever program you choose, use the opportunity to meet locals and fellow travelers looking to give back.


Ask for an Introduction
The rise in mainstream, global travel has shown us how small the world really is. Spend a few minutes on social media or reading a favorite travel blog and we’re regaled with tales of running into a childhood friend or an acquaintance in a remote corner of the earth. Before you leave for your vacation or adventure, ask friends and family for an introduction to anyone they might know in the area. You can also ask your own Instagram followers or Facebook group cohorts to connect you with someone that you absolutely need to meet during your travels.


Indulge in an Experience
Today’s travel trend is focused around experiences and not simply tours and excursions. Look for experiences that match your passions, like the city with Urban Hiker San Francisco or Hush Hip Hop Tours in New York through secret rap battle sites and historic clubs. You can also find everyday locals offering unique tours through Airbnb Experiences, like seeing life in a Malaysian Village or going on a secret speakeasy tour. Opting for unusual outings and courses is an intimate way to get to know someone looking for an unconventional travel experience.


Sip Cocktails at a Hotel Bar
Sure, you can explore the city you’re visiting and find the best bars to imbibe in. But you can meet fellow travelers and wayward wanderers at hotel bars and pubs around the world. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own hotel bar, either. A beachside resort bar, boutique hotel or hostel with attached bar are all fun ways to sample the local beer while meeting someone new.


With MeetUp groups in more than 180 countries, there’s an organized way to meet people sharing just about any interest, from American Expats in Paris to Barcelona ARTivities MeetUp Group. Look for MeetUp groups with chapters in different countries and cities to keep the momentum going. Whenever you travel somewhere new, you’ll have a built-in network just waiting for an introduction.



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