In my years of travel, I’ve Couchsurfed, shared a ride with three people to Bordeaux, and rode on the back of a motorbike in search for pho in Vietnam, all with people I’ve never met except for a few message exchanges on an app. It probably worries my parents to know I’m running around with a bunch of strangers, but I’ve never felt unsafe and reassure them that I take good care of myself. In fact, these connections been some of my most memorable travel experiences.
By taking a few basic precautions, you don’t need to worry when meeting up with a small group of other travelers or locals through travel apps or meetup groups. Instead, you can enjoy making new friends and sharing exciting memories.
- Read through the profiles. With many travel apps and websites, you can “get to know” the people you are planning to join an activity with through their profiles. What are some common interests you all have? It can also give you ideas what to talk about when you actually meet. While you’re at it, make sure you have a welcoming and detailed profile too!
- Meet in a public space. I always suggest to meet in a public area such as a cafe or the lobby of your hostel. This is also helpful in case you need to send a message if someone is late or needs directions. Try to choose a central location for everyone in the group, and not too far from your meetup activity.
- Introduce yourself. When everyone arrives and before you start going anywhere, talk to each other! Get to know everyone’s names and put a face to the profile. You can also confirm your activity plans so everyone is on the same page.
- Keep your wits. While having a drink at the bar is a great meet up and chance to bond with your new friends, don’t go overboard. Since these are people you just met, you want to give them a good impression, not leave as “that guy or girl we had to carry home.” As usual, keep an eye on open beverages and don’t accept any drinks from a stranger.
- Be aware of your surroundings. My dad gave me this advice before I went off live by myself in college and it’s been some of the best advice anyone has ever given me. As long as you keep your eyes open and use some common sense, you can stay safe and have a ton of fun while traveling.
Social travel apps like Urbansurf are perfect for meeting new friends and sharing experiences in small group settings and that’s great when you’re a solo traveler or want a local experience. Join the Urbansurf community and start connecting with like-minded travelers! Enjoy sight-seeing or other activities with small group meetups around the world. Don’t forget to download the iOS app.