It’s a fact that local knowledge is golden in a city or country, but the prospect of making new friends can be a daunting one. Here are some clever ways to do so.

1. Homestay hosts

Choose your Airbnb, Couchsurfing or whatever home carefully; pick a place where you’ll stay with a local, and make sure that person looks and sounds—as far as you can tell—like you’d get along.

Hosts can be fountains of knowledge, and it’s not uncommon for them to suggest you grab a coffee or pint somewhere.


2. Rideshare

Use one of the main websites such as Ridesharing or OpenRide to book into a car going to your next stop, choosing drivers and fellow passengers who sound up your street.

Cars are natural places for conversation to unhurriedly spring up, plus you have a shared common destination, so it makes sense to make further plans to hang out.



3. App-undant options

Numerous smartphone apps allow travellers to meet up with residents, and we don’t mean Tinder. Most straightforward is Party With A Local, which lets you join in on nights out.

EatWith is like an Airbnb for supperclubs; is over 200 global cities, cooks advertise dinner parties at their private home. You might attend a Latin American-themed smorgasbord in Copenhagen, or be taught how to make souffles by a Parisian.


4. Look for Insta-friends

Do you use Instagram? If so, see if you have any followers or regular likers from the place you’re about to visit. Insta-meet-ups are very common.

A similar artistic temperament is generally guaranteed, while Insta users tend to be very on-trend and knowledgeable of alternate scenes.



5. Take a tour

Run by established firms such as Viator, short group tours are a surefire way for solo travellers to make friends.

Problem is, your fellow tourers will likely also be fellow tourists, not denizens of the appointed city. To swerve this issue, turn to an app like ToursbyLocals, which does what it says on the tin.


6. Volunteer

Along with tours and classes, you could do some voluntary work with locals or a charity. This will almost certainly mean encounters with inhabitants while you feed huskies or prune gardens.

Try platforms like HelpX (requires membership) and Workaway.



7. Conversation tips

It’s best to be honest, rather than duplicitous, when making small talk with someone.

Don’t request the time unless you really need it.  Better to ask a more upfront question: something like “Hey, I’m new in town and don’t know anyone, can you recommend any cool going-out areas?”

Very often the person you ask will take pity on your isolation, and invite you along to something.


8. Ask a friend in advance

The world is increasingly connected, so chances are that one of your friends will know someone in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, and so on. Ask around, and see if they can put you in touch.

These friends of friends have the advantage of probably being your kind of person; after all, any friend of Tom/Dick/Harry is a friend…


And one thing not to do...

What’s this nonsense about reading an book which will entice a stranger into striking up conversation?

Truth is, if you’re reading a book, most strangers will leave you in peace. How are they to know that you’re desperate to be intruded upon?

So put down that novel, and be more proactive about your friend-making.

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