written by Betty Nguyen
Having an open mind while traveling is crucial to fully embracing new experiences. At Nomoon, we like to connect with the locals and build relationships with them. We view travel as something much more meaningful and deeper than just visiting landmarks and top sightseeing sites.
I consider myself an extreme extrovert. I make friends with everyone. If you ever attend one of my house parties, you’ll encounter friends whom I met at grocery stores, Uber pool rides, in random parking lots, etc.
I love traveling solo because I get to make new friends abroad. And I have the ten best ways for you to meet locals:
1. Talk to Your Seat Mate
Usually I talk to my seat mate on the plane and eight out of ten times, they are from the destination I am heading to. If they are cool, we add each other on Facebook and Instagram so we can connect further. If not, I put on my headphones and go to sleep.
2. Book a Group Tour
Nomoon tours are built around meeting locals. We often have you enjoy a coffee or a meal with a local family or local restauranteur who can warmly introduce you to their culture. Also, you get to meet other people on the same tour – more friends to add to your list.
3. Rent a Room
I’m not a big fan of hostels but I like interacting with locals, so I often book a room at a bed and breakfast (or a guest inn) and meet interesting guests and talk to the owner in the mornings. I always get the best recommendations for local cafes and restaurants here.
4. Eat at the Bar
No reservations required. You walk in and plop yourself down. The food, drinks, and restaurant’s happening scene are the icebreakers. My favorites are, “What are you drinking” or “What are your recommendations”. And if everyone is ignoring you, the bartender and waitstaff can also serve as conversation buddies.
5. Cafes or Lounges
Anywhere that has Wi-Fi, you can strike up a conversation with your nearby patrons. I’ve shared laughs and pastry bites with local strangers – minutes later, we’re figuring out where to meet for drinks.
Whether it’s an organized volunteer trip or an afternoon of volunteer work through a community project (try researching for one in your destination), bond over the shared experience of paying it forward.
7. Ride Share
I swear, it works. I’ve made countless friends from point A to point B via ride share and I know you will, too.
8. Concerts + Festivals
Festivals and concerts are perfect spots to find local friends. Whether it’s a music festival, a local celebration, or the shared love for a particular band, you’re guaranteed to make friends. I’ve made friends waiting in line for the bathroom. Also – don’t forget about yoga retreats, comic book conventions, etc.
9. Social Media
I’m somewhat active on social media (especially Instagram), so I let the world know where I am or traveling to. This results in a fair number of connections with friends of friends, who are often open to hanging out and showing me around town. Works like a charm.
10. Be You
What does this mean? Make your interests known. I love Star Wars, so I always carry my Darth Vader water bottle and naturally, I have at least five to ten people approach me about it on every trip. If you build it, they will come.
Traveling is about exposing yourself to something else, something different. Remember, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.
Do you have tips on meeting locals? Let us know by commenting below.