AnnaMarie Houlis

May 13, 2023, 3:07 a.m.

The 6 Best Apps to Make New Friends While Traveling

Nothing revives a childlike sense of wonder like being in a place where you’re ignorant of almost everything, can’t speak the language and are equipped with only the most rudimentary sense of how things work. It all adds up to why we, at Punta, love traveling so much—and why we’re such big proponents of solo travel.

When you surround yourself with familiar faces, you may seldom break out of your comfort zone. You become a bystander. Surround yourself with strangers, however, and, before you know it, your path will take turns you never anticipated—indulging in meals you’ve never tried, partaking in religious customs you’ve never understood or dancing dances you’d never seen.

In fact, traveling solo seldom means traveling alone. Instead, traveling solo means making friends of strangers, which opens us up to experiences that ultimately culture us.

But sometimes making friends as an adult with a real-person job (albeit with a beach bed for a desk) can feel complicated. If you’re not staying in hostels—where it can be easier to make new friends but harder to get your remote work done—meeting locals or other travelers gets a bit trickier. Even if you do find yourself in coliving spaces, whether it be your accommodation or a coworking office space, it can still be difficult to make friends in new places.

Fortunately for you, there’s a whole bunch of online platforms to facilitate friendships on the road. Here are six apps you should already have downloaded to make new friends while traveling.

1. Meetup

Meetup is a platform with over 600 million users. The app has withstood the test of time amidst an ever-evolving tech landscape; it’s been around for over two decades. It basically boils down to a platform to organize and find events with like-minded people in the area.

Just search for your hobbies or interests in whatever city you find yourself, spanning everything from hiking groups and language exchanges to entrepreneurial skill shares and regular nightlife outings. And, if you don’t find something that floats your boat, you could kick off your own events.

2. Punta

Of course, Punta had to make this list. We’re the only place on the planet (digitally) where you can connect with people all over the planet. You can make meaningful connections with like-minded digital nomads who overlap on your next adventures—for friendships, dating, adventuring, collaborating, whatever you want. Just share your travel plans and check out who overlaps.

If there’s someone in your area during the same dates, you can start a chat with them to meet up in the real world. And if no one is there quite yet, you can also connect with others in the app to make new friends and potential plans.

3. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is one of the O.G. traveler platforms. It's a community of 14 million people in more than 200,000 cities around the world. Together, they've put together over 550,000 events since the onset of the site in 2004.

While you can find events to make new friends via Couchsurfing (and even some local advice forums), you can also use it to find alternative accommodation options. Stay with locals for free, in exchange for solid stories and more memories in the making. The community is built on trust, a collective cultural exchange and the shared desire to do good—one traveler to another. Someone lets you crash on their couch because you’d do the same for a traveler in your home.

4. Eatwith

One of the best reasons for bopping around the world is discovering all the gastronomical gifts out there. And the only thing better than tackling Tokyo’s many Michelin stars or inhaling Mexican street tacos is a home-cooked meal and swapping stories with the strangers who made it for you. That’s what you get with Eatwith: “Unforgettable, immersive culinary experiences.”

On Eatwith, you can search for food walking tours (to find those tacos) or catch a dinner party at a local’s home. You can even find cooking classes, where you’re sure to meet other like-minded foodies, if that’s your thing.

5. Airbnb Experiences

While Airbnb is best-known for its accommodation options (and lesser known for making friends), you can also check out local experiences through the app or website. Airbnb Experiences is a part of the platform that not only connects you with locals who host these events, but that also brings you together with other travelers who tag along.

You can find anything from surfing classes in Nicaragua to horseback riding in Costa Rica to “cow cuddling” in Germany. Filter by art and culture, food and drink, entertainment, sports, tours and more. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to make friends through the experience.

6. Bumble

Sure, Bumble is a dating app. But BumbleBFF is a platonic part of the platform that connects you with all sorts of people who are also looking to make new friends. Anyone with the app can use that part of the platform to swipe on potential adventure buddies.

You can also check out Bumble Bizz to find other like-minded professionals in the area. It's basically a new-age networking app, so you can connect with other remote workers to collaborate or just co-work

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