If you’re one of millions that travel to a new city each year, chances are you may be going alone — or to a new destination without knowing a single soul. Both? Even better! While enjoying a trip with a loved one or prioritizing some self-care solo time is awesome, new friends add a certain sparkle to travel memories.
Here are some tried-and-true ways to meet new people during your travels — or when moving to a new location!
The Best Ways To Meet New People While Traveling
As someone who hasn’t been “active” on Facebook in years, I was shocked to discover how popular Facebook groups are with people looking to make friends and meet in new cities! With a quick search you’ll find various groups like “Things To Do in (City Name)” or “New To (City Name)” — don’t be shy, write a quick post!
I find that, as a solo female, I feel safest posting in groups that are designated for women only. To my surprise, my experience posting in Facebook Groups has been wildly successful; in just a few short hours I’ve had 20+ people reply or reach out to me, and got the chance to explore some awesome spots with new friends!
The Bumble app isn’t ONLY for dating (though that’s easily one of the quickest ways to meet folks in a new city) — thankfully, Bumble has a “BFF” setting that excludes you from their dating pool and only shows you to people looking to make friends!
I’ve found there’s a good mix of people who have just moved, visitors and long-time locals. Regardless of whether you’re only visiting for a day or two, or if you’ve just moved to a new city without a familiar face in sight, you’re bound to meet some people who will either show you their favorite stomping grounds or try a new spot with you!
Attend Small-Venue Events
Have you ever noticed that the fewer amount of people in any given space, the more likely you are to interact? I have yet to make new friends at a sprawling music festival, but I’ve struck up countless great conversations at near-empty bars. In short – less is more.
Skip the big-name concert and opt for the live local band or comedy show at an intimate venue. It’s also easy to drop in at a bar for a drink or two right before their weekly trivia night, viewing party or tasting event — if you’re solo, these are great opportunities to join a group!
Try A Local Activity
Download the Eventbrite app and suddenly you’re prompted with an infinite list of activities going on in your city every single day. Low-key activities like an art walk/mural tour or yoga are great daytime options, while high-energy events like silent discos and karaoke are perfect for meeting folks at their most fun!
I once passed by an escape room and got asked by a trio of sisters to join their mission — we had a BLAST laughing the entire time, and remain connected on social media to this day!
Don’t be afraid to say hi, introduce yourself and ask for recommendations in group activity settings — you might be surprised at how many people are open to making friends too, and invite you tag along or join them!
With Airbnb experiences, you can try group activities (think kayaking tours, yacht experiences or wine and food pairings) to meet fellow travelers; solo activities (e.g. watercolor painting lessons, culinary classes) with a local instructor can also pair you up with a new buddy if you hit it off! At the very least, they may be able to suggest some particular locations that might offer a friendly crowd.
With all this said, my key piece of advice is to make the first move – don’t let intimidation deter you from approaching a friendly-looking stranger and striking up conversation. It’s low pressure but high reward if you walk away with new friends in a new city.
Not only is Meetup a great source for discovering things to do in your city of choice, but it also provides an opportunity to meet like-minded people!
Most cities have awesome, niche groups that range from sports, art and language-learning to health & wellness and spiritually. It’s also popular for dating, LGBTQ+ communities and networking in general.
Whether you’re in the mood for a group hike or an introduction by locals to the coffee shop scene, you can find folks who are into EXACTLY what you’re into!
Read more: How To Choose The Best Travel Camera
Dog parks (or regular parks, for that matter) are perfect for meeting fellow animal lovers — after all, who wouldn’t love to be introduced to a friendly face by their fur baby! Regardless of whether you’re traveling with your pet or just enjoy watching others’ having fun, dogs are famous for their ability bring people together in a communal area.
Not a dog person? Grab a blanket, book, guitar or snack and head for a local park — sprawl out, relax, and enjoy the afternoon. People who see you comfortable and at-ease are more likely to approach!
And while you’re here, check out our tips for being more approachable in public in general — though remember, it takes two!
Tips For Approaching People And Being More Approachable
Leave The Airpods At Home
Headphones are the internationally-known signal for “leave me alone,” so refrain from podcast-bingeing while you’re out!
Put The Phone Down
If you’re going to take yourself on a solo date, challenge yourself to keep your phone in your pocket/purse for the entire evening! When you’re glued to your phone, you may come across as occupied — and no one wants to risk interrupting an important text or email. Keep your head up, and bring a book if keeping yourself company sounds intimidating (it’s much more casual!).
Put Yourself Out There
Not just metaphorically, but physically — your physical location and position in any setting may determine whether you seem approachable or not. Instead of grabbing the back corner table or end bar seat closest to the wall, sit near the entrance or at a corner bar seat. Even better if you can solidify a spot that has an open seating next to you!
Dress To Impress
Wearing a statement piece of clothing is an easy excuse for a stranger to strike up conversation — think something bright, patterned or personalized. Being well-dressed (note, not over-dressed) in general is also a great general rule to abide by.
If (friendly) strangers are good for one thing, it’s being helpful — so use your “newness” to the city to your advantage! Get some help reading the local language on menus, ask for directions, or recruit help lugging suitcases to your mode of transportation or hotel.
Offer To Help
On the flip side of asking questions and receiving help, you can be the one to offer your assistance instead! If you jump in unprompted, even better – what better way to start off on a good foot?