One of the main differences between a tourist and a traveler is about having real interactions with the people around you. Meeting locals while traveling helps you to better understand a place, find the best spots to visit and have a more meaningful and authentic travel experience. If you’ve backpacked or traveled solo before, you’ll know it’s not hard to meet fellow travelers. But getting to know the locals from a new city or region is harder than it may seem. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of apps and blogs that can help put you in touch with people who truly know and love the place you’re visiting.
Here are 10 of the top online tools for meeting locals while traveling:
An app that boasts millions of users, Skout helps you connect with people who just happen to be in the same place at the same time as you. Their Passport feature can help you get in touch with people traveling in over 100 countries across the world.
Clear, easy-to-use and safe, Tripr lets you update your profile with where and when you’ll be, so you can organize to meet up with people before you arrive. One of the great things about the app is it also allows you to host visitors in your home city, too.
3. Be Welcome
You can use the online community Be Welcome for all manner of purposes. Find a place to sleep, offer up your own knowledge as a host, or just get in touch with someone to meet up for a drink. The site also hosts some pretty comprehensive message boards, safety information and travel tips.
Catering specifically to the crowd pursuing that rite-of-passage year abroad, GapYear is a large site with information on volunteering, working abroad, budget travel and, most importantly, meeting people.
You’re either on board with the concept of couch surfing or you’re not, but either way, you’ll surely have heard of this site. Couchsurfing helps you travel on the cheap and stay at an actual person’s place, rather than shacking up in a youth hostel. Moreover, their local forums allow you to attend and plan local meetups to hangout with locals and other road warriors.
The site design needs an update, but so many people use TravBuddy that it’s an excellent place to meet your own travel buddy abroad. Scroll through your chosen destination and see who’s heading there soon and looking for a friend. There are generally less locals than travelers on the site, but keep an eye out for people wanting to share what they love about their home city.
This one won’t be a revelation for anyone reading this article. But any round-up of ways to meet locals would be incomplete without reference to Airbnb. Read through your prospective host’s description of their place and availability; they will generally let you know how willing they will be to spend time with you while you’re there. Side note: our own Epicure & Culture editor Jessica Festa runs an Airbnb in NYC, which you can check out here.
A sleek and simple app, Highlight lets you find out who’s nearby and looking for a friend. The app is based on proximity, so it’s perfect for when you’ve already arrived and want to meet up with people ASAP.
Backpackr is geared to meeting fellow travelers, but it’s a great way to connect with locals, too. It’s a clean and simple app that lets you publicize your location and see others’; just look for the ‘local’ flag on their profile to know if they’re from the location.
A unique concept, EatWith puts you in touch with locals who would be happy to cook for you (for a fee, naturally). A homemade meal, in a local’s house: what better way could there be to meet locals while you’re traveling? Similar platforms include BonAppetour and Feastly.
What’s your favorite app for meeting locals? Please share in the comments below!
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