Have you ever met a traveller on the road filled with so much personality that they seemed like they were about to burst at the seams with enthusiasm for meeting new people? You know, those guys and girls who are like social glue – connecting people from all walks of life around the hostel dining table or on the group tour bus. These social butterflies are great to mix with when you travel because they open us up to new perspectives, interesting people and fascinating stories.
Of course, being so ‘out there’ doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and lots of people travelling prefer to ‘go it alone’ or stick to themselves most of the time, however, a little bit (or a lot) of human company can make a good trip even greater.
But how should you go about meeting other travellers abroad? And if you make friends easily, how do you go about meeting other travellers abroad safely?
Here are some smart tips and advice for meeting new friends overseas.
Travelling in the digital age
Social media for travellers
Let’s start by looking at all of the ways we can connect with like-minded people through digital technology.
Almost everyone travels with a smart phone nowadays because the tech has been adopted by the travel industry so well. We can check in, view our flights, review hotels and communicate with our loved ones on the go from the convenience of our pocket.
The next evolution of this trend is occurring and with it has come plenty of apps designed to help you communicate with fellow travellers.
The best way to take advantage of these apps is to download them before your trip so you can hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination.
Giving out your details online
Don’t be too quick to offer your phone number to anyone who asks for it because there are now safer ways to communicate. Kik Messenger is a messaging service that uses your data to connect you with other Kik users. What’s its advantage over other messaging apps? Unlike What’sApp you don’t need to publish your mobile phone number and unlike Facebook Messenger or Instagram you won’t need to give away access to your personal information. All you have to do is install the app, create a username and you’re good to go!
Travellers with a particular interest such as sport, cultural histories, books and the like can also use MeetUp.com to find a group in a local area. This is a great way of meeting multiple people in group settings with similar interests. You can communicate on public notice boards and can meet up with safety in numbers.
Picking your accommodation
You don’t have to lay claim to a bunk bed in the middle of a 20-person dorm to be sociable at a hostel. Larger establishments often have single or double rooms with private bathrooms so you can enjoy all of the comforts of a hotel room, but with the community feel of staying with other adventurous travellers.
Take note of the activities and tours that operate from the hostel and spend some extra time in the lobby looking through the flyers on offer. You can always be proactive by leaving a message on the notice board expressing your interest to meet new people too!
Airbnb and similar services
We’ve heard some fantastic stories of successful homestays and ‘place swaps’ through services like Airbnb, Couch Surfing and BeWelcome however we always advise that you take necessary precautions when staying with strangers.
Our CEO Craig Morrison:
“Another good reason for travellers to be wary when opting for these sorts of accommodations, is that they wouldn’t always be covered for stolen baggage or personal items under their travel insurance policy, depending on the circumstances.
“In the travel insurance business we insure against unexpected events and, unfortunately, having your property stolen when sleeping in a strangers’ house wouldn’t qualify as unexpected.”
If you want to book your accommodation through sites such as Airbnb, choose the option to book an ‘entire home.’ That way, if your stuff is stolen or lost, you’ll still be covered. If there isn’t a safe at the accommodation, it’s better to keep any valuables on you when you’re travelling.
If you are staying in shared accommodation, take the same precautions as you would in a hostel. Ensure your valuables are locked securely away and kept out of sight. If there isn’t a suitable option for securing your valuables, always keep them on you.
You can read more about staying with strangers safely here.
Whilst there are many other great ways to meet strangers safely when you’re travelling, one of the best ways you can ensure you’ll have support should the unexpected happen is to have a good travel insurance policy. SCTI’s TravelCare policy cover includes unexpected events such as changes to your journey, rental vehicle excess and unexpected medical and evacuation expenses, with no excess on medical claims. You’ll also have access to our 24/7 Worldwide Assistance Network in case you need travel insurance support at any time. Terms, conditions and exclusions do apply so we always recommend reading our PDS including Policy Wording before purchase.
As always, it’s important to be vigilant, use your common sense, be cautious and stay safe when travelling with people you’ve just met. This doesn’t mean that you can’t let your hair down and have fun though!
5 extra tips for meeting other travellers safely:
- Always meet in public places and stay in public places.
- Meet in broad daylight.
- Research safe meeting places on Trip Advisor prior to meeting with anyone new.
- Keep all of your belongings safely locked away or on your person. Do not place these items into the hands of people you have just met.
Let your hotel know where you will be going or notify a friend via social media.