How to Make Friends Abroad
The Best Ways to Make New Friends on a Trip
Besides seeing amazing sights and exposing yourself to different ways of life, traveling can be a great experience because of the connections you can make. Striking up conversations with strangers can be a great way to do this, but what if you want to try other methods? What if you want to more easily meet the locals in a somewhat more structured environment, like a social event? There are still plenty of ways to meet new friends while traveling, some which you may not expect.
1. Visit a Toastmasters Meeting
Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills. It consists of individually run member clubs worldwide - people decide to set up a Toastmasters meeting in their area, and run their groups according to the Toastmasters program. If you are already a Toastmasters member then looking for TM groups in your travel destination can be a great way to meet people. Toastmasters groups tend to have a varied group of people from diverse backgrounds, so you can easily meet locals and expats alike. Best of all, you already have something in common with everyone in the meeting. Depending on the club there may also be dinner or drinks after the meeting so you can socialize with members there. Definitely an overlooked way of meeting people while traveling.
2. Check online
Meeting people online does not have quite the same stigma as it did years ago. You can use the internet in several ways to meet new people during your travels. There are sites such as Mingle Trips and Meetup.com which allow you to connect with fellow travelers. Also becoming more popular is Couch Surfing, a concept in which people connect by offering their home for travelers to stay at. The benefits being a free place to stay and a chance to meet new people. The official Couch Surfing website requires detailed profiles and has a rating system, so you can learn about the people you're staying with and feel a bit safer in the process.
3. And of course, bars
If the above doesn't sound any fun to you, you can always check out the local bar scene. Some bars can be great for striking up a conversation with a stranger. Doing your research online can help you find places that suit your tastes or are in a convenient location for you. Do note that in some cultures it's not really that common to mingle with people at bars. If you try talking to a group of strangers at most bars in South Korea, for example, you will probably just get blank stares - Korea is not a culture where people talk with strangers that easily. Cultural issues like this shouldn't come into play in most places however - socializing at bars is mostly pretty universal.
Whether you're solo or traveling with your friends, it's always great to meet new people abroad. It's one of the best ways to enrich your experience and see a side of the local culture outside of tourist spots. Don't be afraid to look in places you wouldn't expect to meet friends during your travels.
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