In modern society, technology often limits human interactions by pulling you away from face-to-face conversations and burying you in your cellphone. But the Couchsurfing app actually does the opposite: it provides a way to meet new and interesting people in real life.
Originally, CouchSurfing started as a way for travelers to stay for free. But over the years, it evolved into a community of like-minded travelers. Now, the Hangouts feature offers a completely different way to meet new people when you’re traveling.
Here’s how to meet new people on this app.
First, download the app and create your profile. Make sure to fill in as much information as possible. Include a cool travel picture of yourself.
Click the blue button on the home screen that says “Browse Hangouts” and it will display a list of other users near you.
You can see their pictures and read their bios, as well as their statuses. If you are interested in meeting them, click “Say Hello” and wait for them to accept your invitation.
At the top of the list, you will see a group of people who have already connected. You can opt to join a group of people here. This plugs you into an established group that has already made plans.
In the top right there is a little green button, click on that button to set your “status.” This notifies other users what kind of plans you want to make by answering the prompt “I want to…” It comes with some defaults like “grab beers” or “explore the area.” Then click “Update My Status.” People will then see your status and be able to connect with you if they have similar interests.
Once someone has accepted you into their chat, you can begin immediately making plans. It even has a built in map feature where you can suggest meeting spot. Many people are travelers who are visiting for a short time, so you can get right to making plans without much small talk. Most of the people on the app are extremely open-minded, friendly, and willing to meet new people. It is a community of like-minded people.
People of our generation are used to using dating apps, and although this is a similar technology, they are definitely different. First of all, it is not for dating and if you are only looking for that, just use Tinder instead. Second, instead of making plans for, say, “next Tuesday,” you usually chat and make plans to meet the person right away. It has an immediacy of “What are you doing right now?” Because people often have limited time on their visit.
If you are traveling to a remote city and find yourself without any friends, it is a great way to connect with other travelers. And if you are sitting at home in New York City or Chicago, maybe you can meet some new people who are just traveling through. Meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds is so rewarding in and of itself.
Also, people ask me how to meet locals while traveling. This is one of the best tools you have to do it. Especially if they see you are a native English speaker, they may cherish the opportunity to practice their English.
I have met so many people through this app that I still keep in touch with to this day. It is a really great way to branch out and meet some really cool people.
Want to hear about more adventures? Check out my book about fighting professional MMA in Peru: The Cage: Escaping the American Dream.