THESE ARE THE BEST APPS FOR MEETING LOCALS
As much as I enjoy meeting my fellow Canadians when I travel, I certainly don’t want to surround myself with only them – I want to meet and spend time with locals to get the lowdown on the what’s happening and to have an authentic cultural exchange.
Happiness is meant to be shared, and this should be kept in mind when traveling to any new country. I sometimes ask myself what my travels would have been like if it weren’t for the people I met along the way, who ultimately shaped my experiences – not nearly as rewarding, that’s for sure. Many of the best travel experiences of my life include having spent time with locals – eating, walking, sharing, and learning about things I would have never found out about by myself.
Hanging out with locals is the best way to learn about back alley haunts, discover the actual best local food, get invited to legitimate parties, and find secret diving spots only the locals know. It’s not just about getting the insider experience; it’s about having a cultural exchange, overcoming language barriers, learning about history and traditions, seeing life with a new set of eyes, and making the world a closer place.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, calm and collective or a party animal, a solo traveler or part of a group, an adrenaline junkie or a fine-dining foodie, there’s a way to connect with like-minded locals who can make your trip all the better. You might be looking to make friends outside of the hostel, start a relationship, get some company for a road trip, or find a local guide – whatever your reason, the following apps will help you connect with someone who calls the country you’re visiting home. There are endless resources and apps that connect you with other travelers, but these ones are specifically for connecting with locals.
Couchsurfing is probably the best platform for meeting locals. With 14 million users, Couchsurfing is a social network service that allows users to meet and stay with locals all over the world. It’s kind of like a free Airbnb, but it’s much older than that. Hosts basically provide accommodation (could be a couch, floor space, or a luxurious room) for guests out of the good of their hearts, but ultimately it’s a cultural exchange. As a surfer, you can teach a new skill, cook a meal, provide a gift, or just offer your company in exchange for a place to sleep. In larger cities where the platform is well-established, it’s sometimes difficult to find a popular host, as they’re bombarded with messages daily. Don’t abuse Couchsurfing and use if only for free accommodation, as it extends must further than just having a place to sleep.
There’s no doubt about it traveling is often about going on a gastronomic journey and getting to dive into and taste a new culture. The thing is, when landing in a new country you sometimes don’t know what to eat and find it difficult navigating the local culinary scene. That’s where Eat With comes in handy. The app, which offers dinners, cooking classes, and food tours in more than 130 countries, teams up with hungry travelers to provide an authentic food experience. Hosts create unique events surrounding food, and guests can go on the site and browse the culinary events until something makes them salivate.
Sure, it’s a notorious dating app, but it can be much more than that, depending on what you’re looking for. Your partner might not want you using this one, but if you’re traveling single and solo Tinder is a great way to meet up with locals and make friends. If it is love you’re looking for – whether no-strings-attached or everlasting – Tinder is a good place to start looking. Regardless if you’re meeting through Tinder or any other app that connects you with locals, remember to always meet in safe places, and be sure to state your intentions.
The With Locals app focuses on connecting travelers with locals through food and experiences. The website kind of operates like a giant tour company, providing a directory of things to do and see when traveling, like mini city guides. However, the experiences are listed by a verified local, rather than your average Joe, according to the site. The way it works is that you find local experiences that you’re interested in – from family dinners to street food to city secrets – and you book the host who’s offering that experience. What you see is what you get.
Besides these apps, there are many other methods for meeting locals. If you really want to jump into a new culture, consider taking a university course, finding a job such as becoming a dive instructor, volunteering through a reputable program, or being a digital nomad. You can also meet locals through work exchange programs such as Workaway, HelpX, and Wwoofing.
There’s not much better than being greeted with open arms by a stranger in a foreign country and developing an everlasting friendship. Of course, there are scam artists who are out to take advantage of you, so always have your head-on your shoulders and listen to your gut. That being said, most people are inherently good, so get out there and meet some strangers. Keep in mind that you can just as easily kick it old school and chat someone up at a bar or say hello to a stranger on the street. But no worries if that’s not your thing, as these apps are here to help.
Have you ever used one of these apps to connect with locals while traveling?