5 Ways to Make Friends in Any City While Traveling

Traveling with family and friends is an excellent way to develop a deeper relationship with them. Unfortunately, they’re not always up to it. Certain people are in fixed mindsets and aren’t open to having the new experiences traveling inevitably brings.

Others are focused on work projects or have other commitments that make joining you at this time impractical. Of course, there’s also the possibility that you’re simply taking trips your families and friends aren’t interested in.

Regardless, traveling alone doesn’t have to be lonely. However, it can be. I’ve taken trips where I’ve gone multiple days without any conversation beyond ordering food. I’ve also taken trips where I’ve spent an entire day eating at restaurants, taking motorbikes around the city, and living it up at the beach for an entire day with locals.

I’m sure you can guess which type of trip is more refreshing and culturally insightful. The people you meet often have a greater impact on you than the things you see. That’s why we’re going deep today on a number of ways you can meet new friends on your travels.

Utilize Existing Connections
I’ve never been to France. I don’t know French. Yet, one of the long-time readers of this blog is from France. In the past he’s offered to show me around his city, and expose me to the most interesting parts of French culture should I ever visit.

Similarly, I’ve never been to Germany. I don’t know German. Fortunately, if I want to visit Germany I won’t need German to make friends. When I was in high school I befriended several foreign exchange students from Germany. I even planned a US road trip with one of them (though it fell through).

After showing them around my town in the US a couple years ago, I’d bet there’s a pretty good chance they’d be happy to reconnect and show me their life in Germany.

You probably have more friends (or at least acquaintances) living in other cities and abroad than you think. The kid from Argentina you used to play soccer with, your best friend that moved across the country for work, the girl from high school that moved back to China after finishing university.

Take some time to think about people from your past you’ve lost contact with. There’s a good chance things went cold with many of them not because of a lack of compatibility, but simply because of the increased distance between the two of you. A trip to their city ensures you’ll have a fun friend to show you around the city, and can be a great way to rekindle a forgotten relationship.

Meet Bloggers/Online Personalities
Before I came to Asia last year I lacked even a single real life friend. However, another digital nomad my age had a blog that happened to mention he was living here. I decided to contact him. A few months later we met in Saigon, Vietnam and became friends. He also plugged me into the freelancer and entrepreneur scene here which introduced me to even more people.

In almost any city you’d like to travel to there’s likely an interesting blogger that lives there. Get in touch with them. Most online personalities are more accessible than you’d think. If you make the effort to visit their city, most will at least make time to share a cup of coffee with you.
(As of April 2016, and for the foreseeable future I’ll be living in Saigon, Vietnam. If you’re ever nearby, get in touch)

Social Media
Instagram allows you to search for photos near your current location. This can be a great way to meet people that are near you. Like a few of their pictures, and then leave them a comment or private message saying you’re in their city (I do both. The reason is that some people are too shy to reply to strangers using the public comments while others don’t check their private messages and won’t even know you tried to contact them.)

Using this technique in Da Nang, Vietnam last month I befriended several locals my age. We ate at several restaurants together, took a motorbike day-trip to another city, played soccer, and relaxed around the fire at a late night beach party.

This technique may not work on every trip you’ll take, but it’s a good trick to have. Other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter likely have similar features that would make it easy to meet people near you.

However, I only have Instagram. I’m  not maintaining an active account on other sites so you’ll have to explore their available features yourself.

Online Dating
Although a complete disaster in the US, online dating can actually be incredibly effective abroad. Virtually every girl I’ve dated and the majority of local friends I’ve made the past year have been through an app like Tinder, Badoo, etc.

Online dating is also a godsend when you don’t speak the local language. You can use it to quickly filter for people that speak English, or one of the other languages you’re fluent in. Of course, it’d be manipulative to take advantage of your date as an unpaid tour guide.

However, they won’t feel this way assuming you’re a reasonably socially calibrated person. Just focus on amplifying and sharing positive emotions between the two of you. When you come from this frame your date will enjoy herself and enthusiastically share her culture with you. You may even get some extra culturing at the end of the date!

Real Life Interactions
If you enjoy playing soccer, go to the park and play soccer. If you like to drink, head to the bouncing bar of the night. Doing the things you like to do is a great way to meet those with similar interests. Of course, while doing these things puts you in a position to meet new friends it isn’t enough.

Kicking a soccer ball alone with your headphones in or sitting in the corner of the bar slouched with a frown isn’t going to make you any friends. You have to be proactive and initiate conversations with others to have any consistent success with this method.

Conclusion
We didn’t exhaust every method of meeting others while traveling. There’s other options such as Couchsurfing, staying in hostels, using MeetUp, etc. These are just a few of the strategies I’ve used to make friends while bouncing between different countries and cities this past year. Hopefully you’ll be able to get some use out of these ideas during your travels as well.

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Two blog posts in two weeks for the first time since August. Whoooop!



Why You Should Take Last Minute Trips

A few weeks ago I was getting burnt out by life in Ho Chi Minh City. It had been about a month since my family had been in town and since then I’d gotten stuck in the same routine. Do work, eat five chicken legs from the same restaurant for lunch, and then go on a date or do more hustling. I love the cafe work culture and liveliness of this city, but things can get old after a while.

This happens to almost everybody after some period of time. You can delay this feeling by making changes to your daily routine, but eventually you long for something different.

When you live in the small town you grew up in you may crave action. Why is everybody here so boring? Does nobody have aspirations beyond making 60k a year and getting married?  Isn’t there things to do with my friends beyond going to the movies or bowling?

Yet, when you live in a chaotic city like Ho Chi Minh you eventually crave peace. At what point did I decide living in a city with horrendous air pollution was a good idea? Why can’t I walk on the sidewalk without an endless steam of motorbikes beeping and attempting to drive past me? Have I really chosen to live in a city where I’m pleasantly surprised when I’m able to walk thirty- seconds without seeing garbage in the street?

Almost everyone can relate to one of the previous two scenarios. However, not everyone has the flexibility to continually rotate a month of life in the big city with a month of life in a small town. For this reason, short trips have an enormous benefit. They allow you to maximize the upsides of life in your city while minimizing the downsides.

Live in a big city? Excellent. Hustle, make connections, have a great dating life, and enjoy all the other perks living in the city brings. Take a short weekend holiday to a more laid back town once a month to refresh and enjoy the nature and serenity your city may not be able to provide you.

Live in a small town? Enjoy the low stress lifestyle, nature, and relaxed vibe. Take short trips into economic city centers near you on occasion to network, attend interesting events, or simply enjoy the abundant energy the streets of these cities provide.

A short trip once a month is a great way to keep yourself stimulated and breakup the monotony of the daily grind. Planning these trips can provide a pleasurable anticipation that helps you get through difficult moments at work or rough patches in your personal life.

However, as great as planned short trips can be, I’ve found that last minute trips can often be an even better value for hustlers. Here’s why…

Last Minute Trips Give You The Ultimate Flexibility

When you decide to take a trip at the last minute you don’t ever have to worry about canceling flights or hotels due to unforeseen circumstances. You also have the ability to take the trip when it’s most convenient for you.

Some weeks you’ve got lots on your plate and need to work six or seven days. Other weeks are quieter and may only require three days of your attention. Taking a last minute trip allows you to capitalize on this. You won’t have stress about taking a holiday when you’re too busy with work, or spend a long weekend alone at home bored because things are quiet.

You Can Get Out Of Your Routine Exactly When You Need To

Sometimes we’re genuinely happy with where we are in life. Sometimes we’re completely content with staying in the same place and have no need or desire to travel. Taking last minute trips helps you avoid traveling and/or wasting money when you’re perfectly fine with life where you’re at.

On the other hand, taking last minute trips can also help you escape burnout. When you’re feeling grinded down by your daily life you can change things up when doing so will have the greatest possible positive impact for you.

You Can Save Money

Typically booking transportation and accommodation in advance will get you the cheapest prices. This is especially true if you have your heart set on traveling to a certain city or staying in a particular hotel.

However, occasionally booking a flight or hotel a few days or even a few hours in advance will get you a cheaper price. Why? Because sometimes airlines or hotels believe that by lowering their prices they may end up getting a last minute traveler to give them something rather than allowing their seats or rooms to stay empty.

If you’re flexible with your destination, you can usually find a good deal on transportation. Please note this isn’t always the case, however.

Often airlines and hotels will jack up their prices for last minute travelers. This is because most people plan travel weeks or months in advance. Often airlines believe that a last minute traveler booking flights is traveling either for business or an emergency. In either case, the airline knows they can charge almost any price and the traveler will be forced to pay it.

You Can Sometimes Save Time

Sometimes when we plan a trip we forget that our time has value. It’s easy to spend endless hours searching for a slightly better deal. However, is it worth spending an hour per week for the next month searching for a cheaper flight? If you manage to get a good deal you may pay $240 for your flight instead of $300. In this case, your research “saved” you $15/hour. That may or may not be worth it to you.

It’s common, however, to spend a month looking at ticket prices only to see little change. Maybe instead of getting your ticket for $300 you instead pay $284. In this case, your research only delivered a payout of $4/hour!

When planning travel it’s important to remember the value of your time. Last minute trips are great because you don’t have excess time to worry about “Will this be the best ticket price I can get?” or “Should I go on this say or that day?” You just take the best deal available and your entire trip can be planned in a few short minutes.

Conclusion

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from planning your trips. I’ll probably still me taking more planned trips than spontaneous ones (especially when flying over other forms of transportation).

However, I do hope this post opened your eyes to the possibility of adding some excitement into your life by taking a last minute adventure. Everyone should wake up one day without plans, and find themselves in a faraway city that night at least once.

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Two more videos from the Da Nang trip already recorded and coming along with new blog posts soon! Just gotta do some video editing and write up the blog posts this week.