Travel: how to meet others and enjoy yourself on the road

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Photo of me doing a Pecha Kucha via Visualized Concepts

I get oft-asked “I’m traveling to ______, can you recommend ways to meet people, fun activities to do that are off the tourist-path? You know, Mac & Cheese, Life of Yes things…”

The Eiffel Tower, Michigan Avenue, and Golden Gate Bridge are great but sometimes you want to do something that isn’t packed with tourists, that’s in a nieghborhoody neighborhood, and where you’ll have a chance to interact with locals.

So here’s a list of activities and groups that have a national and some international presence that fit that criteria.

Next time you’re traveling solo, see if any of these exist where you’re headed and don’t feel wonky going alone. People are generally friendly and will not bite. Using the honest line, “I came by myself, so am introducing myself to people. Hi, I’m ______” works for me.

These are also good ideas if you’re with others.

Oh and use this service, and you can find places to go from wherever you are based on price, just type in ‘everywhere’ in the “to” field.


Specific Recommendations

  • The Embassy Network
  • Midnight Brunch
  • Pecha Kucha
  • Mortified
  • SoFar Sounds
  • WiFi Tribe
  • Tea With Strangers
  • Dabble
  • The Moth
  • Creative Mornings
  • Mealsharing
  • One Million Cups
  • Couchsurfing
  • Warmshowers
  • HappyCow — find vegan and vegetarian food
  • Free Walking Tours
  • Meetup — I’ve found these to be hit or miss; if you try one and it’s not great, try a few others before giving up
  • HelpX — an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation
  • WWOOF — World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms: Linking volunteers with organic farms and growers

General Recommendations

  • underground supper clubs
  • house concerts
  • improv shows
  • live lit
  • storytelling
  • live salons
  • pub quizzes or trivia
  • literary pub crawls
  • hostels
  • co-working spaces
    • Copass: Access the largest network of coworking spaces with one Pass
    • ShareDesk: A global coworking space finder
    • Impact Hub: 81 coworking locations around the world focused on social impact

Got any to add? Post in the comments!

See my Chicago List here and my San Francisco list here.