Traveling solo can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. Even with years of solo travel experience, I sometimes get frustrated trying to to explore a new city without feeling lonely. Meeting locals is a good way to make sure you’re never alone for too long, and you’ll get a chance to see a different side of the city. Using Meetup.com to meet locals is a great option when traveling solo.
Set up a Meetup.com account
If you don’t already have an account with Meetup.com, get one set up as soon as possible. Fill in all the information truthfully and put in a profile picture. Don’t worry about the fact that you live in one city but are interested in Meetups in other cities.
Search for groups and interests
It’s best to start this at least a few weeks before your trip. Put in the city you’re going to and sort through groups based on your interests. I like to look for expat and international groups because they are likely to have other English speakers.
The options are limitless. You can find food groups to try the local cuisine or cultural groups for experiencing the local art scene. Some groups simply meet for happy hour once a week. I’ve joined an international group that held weekly bowling meetups, as well as a group that held photo walks around the city and a group that organized day trips to nearby towns.
Other good interests to search through are movies and film, sports and recreation, socializing, arts and culture, music, and photography. But there are tons of other options, so chances are you’ll find a few groups that work well with your hobbies. Open each group up in a new tab so you can look at them more closely.
Look at the past events
Once you’ve found a few groups that look interesting, browse through their past events.
How often do they meet? This is important because some groups might only meet once a month, which probably doesn’t work well for you as a visitor. You’re better off with groups that meet once a week at least.
What types of events do they organize? A group might sound interesting on the surface but the exact events they hold might sound boring to you. I joined an international group here in Berlin, but all they ever seem to do is go to comedy clubs, which doesn’t interest me.
How many people typically attend? Decide if you prefer big or small groups because this will affect how much you enjoy their Meetups.
Start joining Meetup groups
Once you’ve found a handful of groups that fit your interests, start joining them. Most groups let you automatically join, but there are some that require approval. You might not get approved if you live in a different city, so just be aware of that.
Meetup.com will start sending you emails when events are announced. Since plans are usually made ahead of time, this is why it’s worthwhile to start the process a few weeks before your trip. As events come in that fit with your travel dates, RSVP. There might be a limit on the number of attendees, so don’t wait too long.
You’ll probably also get emails about other groups that might interest you. This is helpful because you can’t possibly go through every single group on the site. Meetup.com determines what other groups might interest you based on the groups you’ve already joined and the types of events you’re planning on attending.
Once you arrive, you’ll have some activities lined up. With any luck, you’ll have some new friends for an evening and you’ll get to experience the city in a different way.
>>Check out our advice for first time solo female travelers.
Have you used Meetup.com when you travel? How do you meet people when you travel solo?