I think if you asked most travellers what made their travels memorable it would be the people. Meeting people, locals, expats or other travellers is such an important part of the travel experience for so many, but sometimes it can be hard to find moments to meet people when you’re travelling, especially if you travel as a couple.
When I travelled solo, I never really had any trouble meeting people and making instant ‘friend-for-the-day’ type connections with people, be they others who were sleeping in the same dorm room as me or locals keen to show me their city. Travelling as a couple, though, I’ve found that our chances of meeting people randomly has decreased. Or maybe it’s down to how our style of travel has changed (we now no longer stay in dorms, for example) and slowed down.
Either way, lately I’ve found using Meetup a very successful way of not only meeting new people at home and while we travel, but also of experiencing the cities we visit (as well as the one we live in!) more deeply or just in a totally different way than we would otherwise.
Now in Berlin, I’m a member of several Meetup groups and have attended yoga, qi gong and meditation classes as well as photo walks, picnics and blogger meetups. But it doesn’t have to stop there; using Meetup as you travel can work too!
For example, some of the most interesting experiences we had in Lisbon were because of Meetup.
So let’s take a look at how to use meet up at home and on your travels.
1. Set up a profile
Follow this link. Then you can join by connecting with your Facebook or Google+ page or by simply choosing a username and entering your email address and choosing a password. You can then select your location to help you find local meetups, add your language and optionally give your gender, date of birth and add a picture (this information will be filled in automatically if you connect with Facebook).
2. Add your interests
The platform will ask you to select things that interest you in order to suggest groups it thinks you might like. There are thousands listed, some of which are very general (such as gay, travel, veganism) and others that are quite specific (public speaking, divorce support, dance lessons). Take your time and pick out the topics that speak to you, or which you’d like to learn more about.
3. Find and join groups
Depending on where in the world you are or are going, there may be many, many groups to join. In Berlin, for example, there are over 1000 active groups on Meetup! Based on what you’ve selected as your interests, the platform will suggest groups you might enjoy, but you can also search for them directly.
From the homepage, click on “Find a Meetup Group” then adjust the location city to your desired destination, and optionally the range of distance from that city before entering your search term in the search bar. Once you find a group that sounds good to you and have read through the description, you can ask to join by clicking the red “Join us!” button in the top right hand corner of the group’s page.
4. Attend events
Now you’ll be able to RSVP to events held by the group you’ve joined. When doing so, you’ll also usually be given the opportunity to say whether you’re coming alone or with one or two other people. Some events will have a limited number of places, so if it’s full, you’ll be placed on a waiting list in case someone ahead of you drops out.
Then all that’s left to do is to actually turn up, meet your new friends and enjoy whatever it is you’ve all come together to do.
Have you found using Meetup at home or on your travels a successful way of meeting people?
Just FYI: all the pictures in this post were from a photo walk organised by this group I joined earlier this month in Berlin around Potsdamer Platz and Park am Gleisdreiek. What do you think of them? Can you tell I’ve got a new camera and am trying to take more interesting photos?