Meeting people abroad is one of the most rewarding aspects of travel, but it can also be tricky if you don’t know where to look for them. For expats trying to overcome the cultural barrier and tourists looking for some fun, there are several tools available. While writing about the advantages of traveling alone, I realized it would be a good idea to talk about them. Whether you want to meet locals and improve your languages skills or just relax and remember good times with people from your home country, there’s always a way to socialize in a foreign city.
There are several expat groups on Facebook for almost any city. These are useful for quick questions to get you oriented when you’re in doubt and quite often meetups will be posted as well. Just make a quick search for stuff like “Americans in Madrid” or “Brits in New York”, that’s usually how these groups are named. Some others might have trickier names like “Friday night drinks Berlin”. It’s quite usual to find people asking others to go out on a specific day. If you’re staying just for a short time in a city it might be the best to just ask if someone’s available, it will not look desperate, don’t worry, people are on the group cause they want to meet other people as well.
Another type of group you can find, which is more interesting for those looking to practice their language skills, are tandem groups. The point is to find someone who is interested in learning the language you speak and can in exchange help you with the language you are interested in learning. To find these groups you only need to search for “Tandem in (whatevercity)” and many results will appear. Since many time groups are private and posts cannot be seen without joining, I just send a request to a bunch of them and then leave those I’m not interested in.
I love meetup cause it lets you look for groups interested in any kind of activity. From Bitcoin miners to board games, you can find a bunch of people that share your interests all at once. Many times the events are focused on doing a certain activity. For example, programmers will meet for a programming night, not just to talk and get to know each other (which is included as well). The most interesting groups here are those for expats from specific countries or people interested in learning a certain language. Keep in mind sometimes you need to RSVP the event, especially if there’s an activity involved so the organizers have an idea of how many people will be there.
If you are looking to make a real tour without riding a tour bus then Showaround is a great option. The idea is quite simple, you look for a local on their site and they will personally show you around. If you are an expert on your own city, then you can become a tour guide as well and show people around. The advantages of this over an all classic tour are many. First of all, you get to talk to a local know the culture deeper, this will help you merge with the place. You also get to choose your itinerary or leave it completely up to your local guide. Some of the tours offered are even cheaper than what you might usually find at the tourist information office.
Staying in hostels
If you are young and just visiting, staying at a hostel might be the best idea. And if you can, try to book the room where the most people fit. Yes it’s cheap and there’s a lot of people crammed in there, but this is exactly what makes it great. It pretty much gets all the socializing done for you. Many fellow travelers want to go see the same places as you. And if you’re already an expert in the city you can socialize by showing people around, they will be grateful for it.
Who says all you can make abroad are friends? Tinder, like many other dating sites, are a great way to socialize overseas. It’s all in your favor, a sightseeing tour date will never be boring and you’ve got the “exotic” status. You’ll surely get to know the local culture deeper. Just make your date know you’re just visiting, some might be disappointed by that, some others more interested.