When we travel, we always encounter a multitude of people from taxi drivers and hotel staff to flight crews and strangers on a plane. Most of those folks are paid to assist us with one thing or another and our interactions are generally scripted and fleeting. So in keeping with my new year’s travel objectives I started looking into new ways of meeting people when I’m traveling, you know other than trying to become the bartenders new best friend, or trying to randomly chat up all the hotel staff. While I was reading about places and tools to meet folks I ran across an article about Meetup.com which I hadn’t really thought about in years. I used the site in the past when I had just arrived in DC and was trying to meet folks and build my social circle, but that was a long time ago. The site has tons of different interest groups (including some devoted to travel) all over the world so it seems ready made for meeting people if you have just a few days in some place.
Another website that offers interesting experiences with locals is Vayable.com. The tag line on the website says “Discover and book unique experiences offered by local insiders.” I would guess that these groups have a nice mix of locals and visitors so it would be easy to meet people in a structured setting. Many of the activities appear to have some cost associated with them, but I imagine they are much more interesting than group tours you might find through an agency and you can see user reviews on the site! A sampling of the offerings on the site include a Food Crawl tour in Rome, A midnight Street Food crawl in New York, A Photography tour in Paris, Biking local back roads in Italy and Dublin like a local. However I think my favorite was an “Underground Restaurant Meal” in Barcelona. The organizers are a local foodie couple and the restaurant is their home! The deal is a lovely meal and three hours of conversation about local culture. For $65 bucks I think it would be worth checking out!
One more site that I found aiming to connect travelers was Mingletrips.com. This site aims to connect people on a more one on one basis than Vayable. The fact that this is a one-on-one makes me feel like it has the possibility of being very sketchy, of course I guess that’s true of anything. The site apparently leverages your Facebook account and then matches you up based on location and interests, and allows you to decide if you want to get together to meet. I don’t think this is quite up my alley, but it might be a good options for some folks.
If anyone has experience using these sites to meet people while traveling please share!