I wish I could say that there are many reporters at prestigious publications who routinely write about single people, and do so in enlightened ways. At the moment, there seems to be just one – Stephanie Rosenbloom, a travel writer at the New York Times.
I’ve mentioned her work here before, in this post and this one. Her most recent article about single people and solo travelers is “A solo traveler’s guide to meeting people.” It is worth reading the whole thing. Here I’ll just give you the listicle version of how to meet the locals and make friends, and skip over the safety tips that are also included in the article.
Rosenbloom’s suggestions are addressed to travelers but I think most of them are also relevant to meeting people and making friends in the place where you live.
- Say hi to the person next to you. This may seem so obvious that I hesitated to include it. But as social scientists Epley and Shroeder noted in their report of a recent set of studies, strangers who end up next to each other (in planes, trains, while standing in line, and just about anywhere else) typically just ignore each other. Nudged to make an effort to connect as part of an experiment, people typically find those experiences to be positive ones.
- Ask the locals what’s great about where they live. They’ll probably enjoy bragging.
- Offer some other words of praise. Don’t be phony, though.
- Try the various websites and apps that are designed to help you meet the locals. I haven’t tried any of these myself, but Rosenbloom suggests Highlight, Planely, Skout, and Tripr.
- Couchsurfing.com can be useful, too, even when there is no couch available. The platform offers events and gatherings as well as places to stay. Also, as Rosenbloom explains, hosts can set their “hosting availability” status to “wants to meet up.” That tells you that they are interested in meeting you or giving suggestions even if they don’t have a couch to offer.
- Talk online to people at VirtualTourist.com and maybe you will end up meeting some of them in person.
- Don’t forget Meetup.com.
Of course, if you like having your solitude when you travel (or when you don’t), I’m totally in favor of that, too! I wrote about someone who is a great example of that, Karen Hester, in a previous post, “6 weeks of solitude – on another continent.”