Best locations to meet people as a solo traveler
Where are the best travel destinations to meet new people? In case you are traveling on your own, taking the time make sure your next destination is optimal for meeting new people is important for any human. Some places will simply not allow you to do that, while others locations will be abundant with options for new encounters. Here are some factors you should have in mind while choosing a travel destination with social life:
Firstly, should you pick a village or a city? The advantages of villages and small towns are considerable in many ways (nature, quiet, prices etc.). However, as far as social life is concerned, cities are usually much better. Cities have more people, and many more meeting places to establish the first contact. We have discussed the tools we can use to meet locals while traveling and unfortunately, many of those tools (like coworking, or social sites like coushsurfing.org and meetup.com) are unavailable or very limited in villages and small towns. In addition to that, city folks tend to be more open minded than people in towns which allows you to fit in the crowd. The reason is that cities provoke loneliness and anonymity while also have a younger population, pushes everyone into a mindset of social interaction. People in villages usually already have social structure in place (Friends and family), which makes people there less interested in creating new contacts. So, if you are on your own, pick a city.
Should you go to touristic destinations? Here, the answer is a bit more complicated. On the one hand, many tourists in the same location increase your chances of meeting tourists while traveling. However, touristic places may make the contact with the locals more difficult. Not only that the locals in touristic locations may be a bit weary of the influx of tourists (some people say it happens in Paris), they also regard tourists as a source of revenue (especially in developing countries). I saw the difference in the mindset of locals when while traveling in touristic Vietnam and Cambodia in comparison to non-touristic towns in Myanmar where people invite you to food in their homes and help out without accepting money just because they are interested in your company and are not used to look at you as a potential revenue source or as a disturbance to their lifestyle.
Are you picking a place that has the character or mindset that fits in to your reality? Let’s make it simple: try defining the social characteristic of a place in few words. In example, if you are interested in checking out Tobago, an amazing Caribbean island, after research you will see that most of the tourists who go there are actually couples in honeymoon. In addition to that, most of the locals there are people who cater for those tourists. This is a lethal combination that should be avoided for a solo traveler looking for social life.
Pick Expat and Digital nomad hubs. Unlike Tobago, you can’t go wrong if you pick a forming hub where digital nomads and expats are seeing as an attractive destination. Both those crowds are happy to connect to new people since they are not “at home” and those hubs are buzzing with networking events and social gathering. Here is a list of the most trending digital nomad hubs.
Is there a language barrier? If you know the local lingo it will greatly improve your chances of meeting and interacting with locals. One more thing that might offset the disadvantage of not speaking the local language will be if most locals speak your language well. So making the research if the locals are speaking your language before traveling, or taking the time to learn the destination language in my language school (my website!) will increase your chances of interaction. In case you are not interested to learn the local language (here are a few tips on how to do that), pick a place with higher spoken level of English such as the Netherlands, or Israel.
In conclusion, making the “social” research on your destination is well worth doing. Take it easy, and keep walking until something interesting happens.