Hey there, internet friends! If you’ve spent much time on this site, you know that I move around a whole lot, hopping between places like Arizona to Canada to Ireland and back again. Traveling is a joy, but being in a new city every few months can be pretty lonely unless you know how to make friends quickly.
Well, I have some good news for you! Whether you’ve found yourself moving for a new job, or if you’re just a globetrotter like me, you don’t have to be back in school to meet people in a new city.
Here are some of my time-tested tips on how to make new friends anywhere you go.
1. Follow your interests
You might’ve heard this one before, and for good reason! Meeting folks in an environment where you already share similar interests is one of the easiest ways to sniff out some like-minded people. It’s a sure-fire spot to have conversations that go beyond the weather!
If you like taking pictures, find a photography class at a local community college and propose a photoshoot with your classmates. There are plenty of local theater troupes and choirs for all you artsy types, intramural leagues for my sporty friends, and even town hall meetings for the politically inclined. You can check out the app Meetup or the website Meetup.com for other events tailored to your interests.
You can even start looking early and book a spot at a class or club in advance so that once you arrive you’ll already have one thing on the agenda!
2. Don’t underestimate Facebook
Trust me, Facebook is for more than your aunt’s gardening photos. There are tons of Facebook groups centered around a specific idea, location, or both. If you’re going to a new city in a foreign country, look for groups of other ex-pats–for example, Americans moving to Paris have a lively Facebook group called American Expats in Paris, with several posts a day looking for advice, companionship, and more.
For the ladies, the organization Girl Gone International has communities across the world, where women meet up for book clubs, wine tastings, and other get-togethers that can make you feel at home. Just search for a GGI Facebook group in your city, and see what’s happening!
Of course, you can use plenty of other social media channels to look up new people–just check out the hashtags for your new city and follow some local creators. Even if they don’t respond to your DM, their posts will give you some good ideas for the best coffee shops, happy hours, and small businesses worth your time. Especially with coronavirus keeping us inside, this will help you do a virtual tour of your city in the meantime.
3. Dating apps — not just for hookups anymore!
Get on the scene, girl! Whether you’re looking for love or just to spark new friendships, meeting people on apps like Tinder or Bumble gives you some one-on-one time with people who may end up being a big part of your life.
Make sure you’re specific in your profile on what you’re looking for, and if you want to avoid confusion entirely, try an app like Bumble BFF, which is geared solely toward making friends.
4. Take advantage of your established social circle
If I’ve learned anything in my travels, it’s that it really is a small world after all, and you never know where old or new connections will pop up. Before you go, ask your friends, coworkers, schoolmates, family, and anybody else in your social network if they have good friends or acquaintances where you’re going.
Getting coffee with friends of friends is a nice way to meet someone who’s already been vetted by someone you trust. There’s already an easy topic of conversation around your mutual friend, and then it can move on to other common interests that make you want to stick around.
5. Follow your pup
If you’ve got a dog, then that’s one friend you’ll never have to worry about! Thankfully, your furry companion can even help you find people you’ll be spending time with in the future.
Strike up a conversation in the dog park, at the groomer’s, or even in the pet store. Your dog needs playmates, and so do you!
If going up to a stranger feels too intimidating, you can always find a conversation opener by giving their pooch some compliments. No judgment here–sometimes pets are better conversationalists than people are!
6. Become a regular
It might take a few days to build up your new social circle, which means that in the beginning you’ll have plenty of time to check out local businesses. Figure out which coffee shop, bar, restaurant, or book store is going to be your new haunt, and make it a point to visit as often as you can.
If the employees wear name tags, make an effort to use their names, and try to show up at a similar time throughout the week so that they start to recognize you. Soon enough they’ll have your order memorized, and you’ll feel like you’re being welcomed to that big yellow couch at Friends’s Central Perk!
This’ll help the new city feel like your home, and maybe even score you a free coffee now and then. Tip well!
7. Take it at your pace
Meeting people can be hard–trust me, I know. All this traveling means another baby step out of my comfort zone every time the plane lands, the bus stops, or the train pulls into the station. Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself.
Especially for introverts, anything from a simple get together to formal networking events can sap your energy. If you need to take a night to stay home to watch Netflix and do some self-care, you do you! (Be sure to check out my favorite coconut oil hair masks for your next lazy night.)
Recharge for an evening and save up for the weekend, when you’ll have all the energy you need to hit the town and meet your new best friend!
8. Be Yourself
It’s an oldie, but a goodie: be yourself. There’s no use forming a gaggle of new acquaintances if you’re not being you while you’re with them. It can be tough in a new environment, especially when traveling far from home, not to feel like you have to act just like the locals to be accepted.
Well, the locals are probably just as interested in who you are as you are with their hometown! So don’t hide who you are just for the sake of finding somebody to brunch with. If they don’t accept you, then on to the next one, friend. Remember to always be your authentic self.
Now you’ve got all the tools to go out and find yourself some buddies anywhere you go. Good luck out there, and tell all your new friends that Frankie said hi!