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10 Sources of New Friendships Abroad

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Travelling is not only about exploring unknown places – it’s even more important to meet locals if you want to get to know a country. If you’re moving abroad or for some reason plan to stay at a place outside your homeland for a longer period of time, meeting locals is the best thing you can do. A whole new world will open up in front of you :)

In this post we’ll focus on ways how to connect with locals in cities. These tips won’t work for approaching members of tribes in the Amazon (more about that in another post one day)

Not everyone is brave enough to approach people on the street. So to make friendships and establish closer connections, it’s good to start with some sort of a platform.

Here are a few options:

InterNations

Sign up for InterNations and go meet some fellow expats as well as locals at one of their monthly mixers. The setting is usually (at least a little) fancy, but you’ll find a wide variety of nice people there. If you stay with the unpaid membership, you’ll typically have to pay a small fee for attending an event. InterNations’ communities exist in most capital cities and some countries have several strong communities in smaller cities as well.

www.internations.org

Meetup

Just check their website and you should find various meetups in your area. The themes of the meetups vary greatly so you can easily choose a meetup matching your interests.

www.meetup.com

Couchsurfing

Yes, you can meet people via couchsurfing, and not only while occupying their couch! There are many events organized by the Couchsurfing community. The crowd is fun and the events are plentiful. I once went hiking with a bunch of Couchsurfers and it was a lot of fun! Everybody’s welcome, no need to crash on somebody’s couch or offer your own.

www.couchsurfing.com

Airbnb

Ok, if you’ve been reading TravelGeekery for a while, you might be already aware of my affection towards Airbnb :) How to meet locals through it? Well, it’s often useful to get an Airbnb flat before looking for a longer rent for the rest of your stay. Why not get one room at somebody’s apartment and hang out with them a little? In the reviews at Airbnb you can often read about the personality of the hosts. Many offer their rooms via Airbnb to also meet some fun travelers!

www.airbnb.com (affiliate link: both you and me will get Airbnb credit)

Hostels

The same applies to hostels. Even if you’re moving to a new country, staying for the first few nights in a hostel will make it easier to meet people. Of course they’ll be mostly fellow travelers, but the staff can also become a ‘target’ of your socializing :) Don’t be afraid and ask the staff for tips on where to go to meet locals. In many cases they’ll invite you to a party/event they themselves are going to attend.

Facebook groups

There are tons of groups on Facebook for organizing various meetups and events. Just search the groups together with the city name you’re in and you’ll be able to find quite a few with valuable tips on what’s happening in the city.

Groups on LinkedIn

Groups on LinkedIn are typically made for business networking. Many also organize professional networking events. There’s usually a blend of locals and foreigners, recruiters and coaches… you name it. Just get some business cards made and head to one of the events!

Co-working centers

Working together bonds people. If you’re on your own and you don’t have a real job at your new destination that would provide you with an office, you can explore the co-working possibilities in the area. You don’t need to work on the same project, just sharing a working space goes a long way. Such spaces often organize networking mashups as well.

Pre-arranged meetups

Do you have favorite travel blogs you read? Well, check where the bloggers live. As people who write about travel are usually avid travelers themselves, they’re often also pleased to meet fellow travelers and help them blend in with the local community. If not meeting in person, they’d at least give you some useful tips.

Any local events

Except from the online resources, you can also just head to a library, any university or a community centre and check what’s hanging on their public boards. There can be diverse opportunities to meet some locals:

  • Classes or courses (cooking, anyone?)
  • Events organized by libraries, community centers
  • Language exchange groups
  • Volunteer work

 

Obviously, it takes time to form friendships with locals. Using some of the sources above will help you at least get your ‘foot in the door’. In most of the places where I stayed for more than a month, I managed to meet some locals as well as fun foreigners and with some of them we keep in touch till this day. I’m pretty introverted, so if I’ve managed to be social then you should have no problem! :D

Do you have any other ways to meet locals? What’s worked best for you?

28 thoughts on “10 Sources of New Friendships Abroad”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about how important it is to meet the local people. They can really help you experience a country properly, not just in terms of giving good advice on where to go, but in discovering their culture and how they live. From my experience, the locals are usually so friendly, especially hostel staff and couch-surfing :)

  2. Airbnb best way to meey locals, nothing more better way to meet locals than staying at someone’s house, I had a good experience they are friendly and tell you tips things to do its a bonus

  3. Great advice! I was thinking of couch surfing meet ups – but you took the words right out of my mouth! We mainly do house sitting and become friends with the home owners, and quite often their friends too :)

    • That’s great..! So you make friends with the house owners before they leave? I guess it’s also a good security measure for them..

  4. I love all these tips! Thank you for sharing them! The only thing that I find so sad when meeting amazing people from around the world while traveling is returning home and never getting the chance to see them again :(

    • Yeah, that’s the tough part.. But sometimes the friendships last and you can meet them again few years later at another place on Earth.. if they travel as well

  5. Such a relevant post! We love making friends while travelling, and couchsurfing has given us some amazing friends that we’re keeping in touch with for the rest of our lives. Haven’t tried a meet up or any of the other organised approaches, but ended up befriending people by serendipity!

  6. I love all these but my particular favorite is Internations. I love that its a way for expats around the world to get together and hang out. Depending on the city you are in, there are networking groups, dinner groups, hiking and all sorts. I highly recommend joining if you’re going to be in a place for any extended amount of time!

  7. Fab advice! Sometimes the highlights of the trip can be some of the interesting people you meet, personally I’ve met some wonderful, but also some very strange people in hostel dorms… I’ll have to try couchsurfing next!

  8. I’ve found the good old fashioned way works best, smile and greet, whether it’s in a hostel, cafe or a hiking trail. I’m pretty introverted myself but find that it’s much easier to talk to people on my travels.

    • Yes, I agree, the good old way is definitely a great one too..! If it works for you, then you don’t need any pre-arranged events, even better!

  9. This is an awesome, helpful post. Personally, I had no idea AirBNB could be a source of meeting people, but reading this, it completely makes sense. If a host is hospitable, then it’s certainly bound to happen.

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