A Family Traveler’s Guide to Making Friends on the Road
While there are times when you want to enjoy your own families company, it’s easy to socialize with others when you’re on the road. Whatever your destination or budget, try these suggestions for making new friends on your next trip and staying in touch after you return home.
Planning Your Trip
Skip Chain Hotels
Major hotels make sense for business travelers who need efficiency, but you’ll probably meet a wider range of personalities if you choose alternative accommodations. Try Airbnb, hostels, and family inns.
Study The Language
You can learn basic phrases even if you lack the time to become fluent. Try your local library for free books and audiobooks for listening on the go. If this isn’t an option- use my link for
& grab 1-2 free audiobooks or:
click here to grab 60 days of Scribd FREE!
(They have a ton of language ebooks and audiobooks you can read or listen to. You’ll also be able to download them for offline use)
Most, if not all locals will appreciate you making the extra effort & not acting like your average American (most Americans expect everyone to speak english smh).
Use an App
A growing number of apps will let you use your phone to find a travel companion and coordinate arrangements. A few popular options include Backpackr, Travello, and Tourlina, which is exclusively for women (yay. please tell me I’m not the only paranoid female here?!).
Google used to have one called google trips or at least I think that’s what it was called, it was amaze-balls but for some reason, they discontinued the app. So, now another option that most people won’t consider is google maps. I know right? It isn’t just an app to provide directions. You can see ALLLLL the nearby entertainments, restaurants or anything else you may need.
Volunteer Your Time
Create an instant community by signing up for a group service project. Browse the listings at sites like Workaway that often provide free board in return for your time or contact a charity you already support to discuss their programs.
Contact a Local
You might feel more secure having someone ready to greet you when you arrive. Ask family and friends if they know anyone at your destination or check for local members of organizations to which you belong (start at your local church, school, etc.). Set up a lunch or coffee date if they’re available.
Post on Facebook
Share your itinerary with your social media friends. Now, I understand that most of the time, our FB “friends” aren’t exactly close friends in real life, haha BUT, people LOVE to talk, help and share information. So, you can be certain that once you share your travel plans, they’ll flood you with suggestions for who to meet or things to do.
Taking Your Trip
Get comfortable speaking with strangers and trying new activities. Be prepared to change your daily schedule if someone suggests something interesting or if THAT THING you wanted to do so dearly doesn’t work out. (Side note: I remember taking a trip to one of the touristy cities in Italy, can’t remember which one, thoroughly excited to visit ALL the museums my friends and family could take BUT it landed on a Monday and most attractions were closed. Whomp whomp, cue the waterworks! I wasn’t prepared so make sure you are!)
Sharing food encourages conversation.
Ask to be seated at the bar instead of at a private table.
Invite others to join you for meals or buy street food you can take to a park bench.
Remember though, eat street food with caution. Be mindful of WHERE you are and native customs like food regulations and whatnot. You may have to do a bit of research or ask around. But, it’s worth it, especially when you factor in your children. Kids’ immune systems and digestive systems can’t always handle and stomach what we can. Also good to remember that any drastic change in diet can mess with anyone’s insides.
Pursue Your Interests
Meet others who share your passions. Look up local Meetup groups or check community calendars for wine tastings or scuba diving lessons.
Play a Game
This is one of my favorites. Bring along a deck of cards, a miniature magnetic board game, or a printable game you can play with your children on the go.
Your fellow travelers may be grateful for the entertainment on long train and bus rides.
True story, no matter what language barriers may be present, body language is THE universal language. And nothing will ever trump kids’ laughter.
It’s seriously one of the easiest ways to stir up conversations without actually having to do it. lol #introvertproblems
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It’s natural to be curious when you’re visiting an unfamiliar place. Ask locals or more seasoned travelers for their recommendations. Invite others to talk about themselves and their experiences.
Now, for my introverts, here’s a tip: walk into a hotel and sit in the lobby for a few minutes (no one will notice I promise) and once you’ve gathered yourself, walk up to the friendliest employee behind the desk and ask for their recommendations.
If you’d rather not speak to anyone, look around the front counter or the walls, especially surrounding the restaurant area, for any leaflets, pamphlets or flyers. You will almost always find discounted deals there!
Take a Tour
If you still have more solitary time than you like or you’re tired of arranging your own itinerary, let a tour guide take over for a while. Most cities will have walking tours for various museums, monuments, and neighborhoods.
And the bonus here is that most walking tours are free! Of course, if ever visit NYC hit me up 😉
It’s my hometown and I love meeting bloggers & readers in real life.
Collect Contact Information
When you meet someone that you want to stay in touch with, be sure to ask for their details before you move on. You might continue an online relationship or show them around if they come to visit where you live.
At the very least, be sure to “follow” each other on social media, so the connection isn’t completely lost.
While many fellow travelers and locals will be sincere and helpful, it’s important to stay alert when you’re far from home. Protect your valuables, meet in public spaces, and leave if anything makes you feel uncomfortable, and I mean ANYTHING.
I grew up in some of the roughest poverty-stricken neighborhoods in NYC, so yes, although I do have some “street smarts” my intuition has saved my behind many more times than I can count. Please listen to yours.
If you keep an open mind, you’ll discover plenty of opportunities to make new travel buddies anywhere you go.
Connecting with others will enrich your travel experience whether your paths cross briefly or you become lasting friends.