While I understand the initial fear of traveling and the dilemma of meeting people on the road, I’ve actually found that it’s harder to meet people in your home country. In L.A. where I live a lot of people are in their routines and are busy grinding: they generally aren’t meeting new people.
2021 was definitely a down year for me in terms of travel (for totally understandable reasons!) and it led me to reflect on the different tactics I’ve used over the years to meet people while traveling and living abroad and I thought it would be useful to share with others!
Start with the Obvious
The three easiest places to meet people while traveling are:
- Cafes - whether this is the working type of cafe you’ll find in Chiang Mai or a more laid-back one you’d find in Budapest, people in cafes are generally open to casual conversations on almost any topic. I’m not saying you need to go up to everyone you see, but if you do go up to say hello, you’ll often find a smile on the other end.
- Coworking spaces - while coworking spaces say they want to foster community, the vibe will depend from space to space. Some places are the serious heads-down GTD spots, others have ping pong tables and meditation rooms. Whatever kind of coworking space you go to, you’re likely to meet people and perhaps even business referral partners/collaborators.
- Events - both cafes and coworking spaces will have notices about one-time or recurring events. That’s ground zero for meeting people as often everyone there is open to meeting with others as well.
There are so many great platforms that allow you to shortcut traditional routes of meeting people. They include:
- Meetup - want to meet people to do basket-weaving on Tuesdays? Believe it or not, there’s probably a group for that.
- Shapr - think of “Tinder meets LinkedIn” to meet business-minded people for coffee or a meal.
- FB groups - type in “digital nomad Saigon” or “expat Budapest” and you’ll find groups of people willing to share resources and tips.
- Couchsurfing - alas this site hasn’t been the same since VC acquisition (it’s no longer free), but you might still be able to use it to meet people for coffee, go to events, or even host people. I’ve had some really great experiences with it.
- Dating apps - not an option if you’re in a relationship, but for those of you who aren’t, very often people still enjoy meeting up even if there’s not a love connection.
If you’re going to be somewhere for a while, say more than a few weeks, there are a couple additional ways you can get to know people:
- Take language lessons from a local - you’ll get to know your local culture better and with even a few words at your command you’re going to be able to meet a larger group of people.
- Go to hostels - now, I’m not saying you need to stay at hostels (though they are pretty awesome) but some of the big ones, like Generator, host events all the time and you don’t have to be a guest to attend. People staying at hostels LOVE to meet others and it’s a way to mix with a different type of crowd than you would at coworking spaces and events.
One of the cheat codes I’ve used over the years is the Dynamite Circle, which is an international community of entrepreneurs, many of whom are location independent. While there was some interruption to regular meetings in 2020, I attended a big event in Mexico in 2021 and the learning, networking, and late-night chats were very much as awesome as ever.
You could also look at big events like Nomad Cruise or Nomad Summit if you’re just starting out and want to meet others just starting out on a digital nomad or location independent journey (though, obviously it may be a while before those are back on their regular schedules again).
You don’t have to use all the ways I shared. If you only used a few you’d find some incredible people, new experiences, and perhaps, a new way of understanding something you’ve taken for granted.
See you out there!
Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash
This article was written by Neel from MaidThis Franchise, a remote-local franchise opportunity for people looking to escape the rate race and reach financial freedom. Learn more here.