How to make New Friends Abroad

Tips to make new friends when you move abroad

The idea of moving abroad can be intimidating. From all of the planning and logistics, it can get very overwhelming and it can be even harder if you don’t have a support system with you. One of the most common reasons why people don’t make the move to a new place, or to travel on their own, is that they don’t know anyone. Don’t let that deter you! 

If you travel alone, it will force you to get out of your comfort zone and you will meet many more people. By meeting locals and other foreigners from all over the world, you will learn new things and live incredible experiences!

But don’t worry, with the following tips, you can make new friends within hours! If you’ll be staying for a long period in your new city, don’t brush off making new friends that are just travelling by! It’s always more fun to explore with other people, you might meet other people with them that are staying longer, and you never know what these new temporary friendships can bring you! 

Facebook Groups

Join Facebook groups for expats, travellers, backpackers, nomads, etc. in your new country or city and you will find people posting messages looking to go on activities or hang out with new people. Make a post yourself saying that you want to make new friends to explore the city with, or go to the beach, go for dinner, anything! 

Here’s an example: “Hi! I’m from Canada and I’ll be staying in Melbourne for 3 months for an internship! I’d love to meet other people to hang out with, explore the cool neighborhoods and go out on weekends! Let me know if you want to meet up!” 

Go to the group section of Facebook, and enter keywords in the “search group” + the name of your new city or country. You can also check with your country of nationality + the city or country. 

Example of keywords:

  • Meetup
  • Expat
  • Traveller
  • Backpacker
  • Nomad
  • Erasmus
  • Exchange
  • International
  • Remote
  • Student

Example of Facebook Groups Around the World With These Keywords:

  • Tenerife Remote Workers & Digital Nomads
  • Canadians living in Peru
  • MELBOURNE Australia 🇦🇺 Backpacker / Traveler
  • Expats in Tokyo
  • Chiang Mai Digital Nomads
  • GERMANY 🇩🇪 Travel Community
  • 🌎Madrid Expats Group – Internationals in Madrid🌎🌍🌏
  • Medellin Meetups & Expat Info For Freelancers, Retirees & Digital Nomads
  • ERASMUS ROME 2022/2023

Even if you’re not a long-term expat, or a short-term backpacker, or a digital nomad, or an exchange student, don’t worry about it. Everyone just wants to make new friends and won’t care about how long you’re staying or what you do! 

There are also endless groups for people with special interests or hobbies. Just enter the keywords for your hobbies or interest + the city or country.

Example of Facebook Groups Specific to a Hobby, Interest or Identity Group:

Whatsapp Groups

There are many Whatsapp Groups in major cities, tourist destinations and digital nomads hubs. Some groups are for just general questions, meeting up for dinner, going for drinks, playing board games, going hiking, kayaking, networking events, organizing weekends away, etc. These groups are usually way more active than the Facebook groups and most of the meetups and events will be organized on these Whatsapp groups.

It’s a bit harder to find the links or invitation to these Whatsapp groups. The best way to find out about these Whatsapp groups is to ask on the major expat, backpackers or digital nomad Facebook groups for your city or country. Or ask people when you get there. You can find some of the links to the Digital Nomad Whatsapp groups in the Digital Nomad section. is a website (and app) where all kinds of meetups are advertised. The purpose of the events on Meetup is to make new friends, so it is expected that everyone is there alone (or with friends, but wanting to talk to new people) and it’s completely normal to go talk to strangers. If you are intimidated, just ask to find the organizer when you arrive at the meetup and they will happily introduce you to other people. 


Couchsurfing is a long-standing platform that was initially created for people to ask for a free couch to sleep on for a few nights. This functionality still exists, but it has much more features now. It’s one of the easiest ways to meet people, especially locals! Couchsurfing has switched to a paying model (about 2,40 USD per month), but it’s definitely worth it as you can be meeting up with new friends within minutes. 

For whichever use you will make of Couchsurfing, it’s recommended to make a detailed profile, filling up all of the sections, and asking recommendations from friends. If you don’t know anyone that has a Couchsurfing profile, don’t worry about it. You can ask for a recommendation after you go on your first Couchsurfing hangout or event from the people that you’ll have met up with.

4 ways to make new friends with Couchsurfing

1- Couchsurfing Hangouts

Couchsurfing Hangout is the most recent feature and is available only on the mobile app. It allows you to make a post that starts with “I want to ______” with the purpose of finding people to do activities with.  You can write things like: “I want to explore the area”, or “I want to go for a drink” or “I want to go see the sunset at the beach” or anything that you feel like doing. This is usually for meeting up on a short notice. But nothing stops you from writing “I want to go hiking tomorrow” or “I want to go out dancing tonight” or “I want to go to the festival next weekend”.

Once you put yourself available, you will see other people looking for friends to hang out with. You can ask to join other people and they can ask to join you. You can be flexible and go do something else than what you initially wrote. You can click on the profile of the people that have requested to hang out with you, or that are looking to hang out with people, and you’ll see their couchsurfing profile. We suggest that you meet up with people that have a complete profile and have references from people. When you see two or more pictures in a Hangout, it’s because some people are already meeting up. You can ask to join them. A Couchsurfing hangout can be just 2 people, but it can also be a lot of people. Once you have accepted someone or have been accepted by someone, you will be able to chat and fix the meeting point and time. 

If you happen to find a cool event in your city where many people are going, there’s a chance that there’s a Couchsurfing Hangout happening. If there isn’t, start one and you’ll have friends to hang out with at this event! If you’re in a major city, you can suggest a meetup right now and have 10 new friends within hours! If you don’t want to meet just one person at a time, just write in your hangout “I want to do a group meetup at X bar” or “I want to do a group hangout at the beach”. 

2- Couchsurfing Events

Couchsurfing events are events that are organized in advance. In major cities around the world, there are usually regular couchsurfing meetups where you can meet a big group of people at the same time. You can find all other kinds of meetups, from dinners at the restaurants, to potlucks, picnics, hiking trips, days at the beach, etc. 

3- Contact a Couchsurfing Member

When people create a couchsurfing account, they need to indicate one of the following status: Accepting guests, Maybe Accepting Guests, Wants to Meet Up, Not Accepting Guests.

If someone has “Accepting Guests” or “Maybe Accepting Guests” or “Wants to Meet Up”, you can assume that they want to meet up! 

You can make a search with keywords to find people with similar interests, and send them a message asking if they want to meet up. Most of the people who are on Couchsurfing are there because they like to meet other people and share their culture and their city. This is a great way to meet locals with similar interests! 

4- Couchsurfing Sleep Over

If you’re feeling comfortable sleeping over at a stranger’s house, then asking for a couch request is a good way to make new friends. Most hosts will hang out with you and introduce you to their friends, show you their local hangout spots. Keep in mind that when people host you for free to sleep on their couch and in their spare room, it’s also for cultural exchange and meeting new people. It is expected from both the surfer and the host that you will hang out a little bit every day. Some hosts will show you around their cities all day, while others will only be available for dinner or drinks. Plan time to hang out with your host if you use Couchsurfing. 

Host a Sister Facebook community

Host a Sister is a worldwide Facebook group for women only where you can make a post saying thay you are looking for a free place to stay (similar to Couchsurfing), or offering to host someone to sleep at your place for free. You can make a post saying that you want to make new friends or that you’re looking for travel buddies. People also advertise if they are looking to do a house swap or looking for someone to come house sitting at the house and taking care of their pets. Although there aren’t any profiles or reviews like Couchsurfing, it’s becoming more and more popular with women. Same as Couchsurfing, if you sleep at someone’s house for free, it is expected that you spend time hanging out with your host.

Girl Gone International

Girl Gone International is a community of women travellers and expats that has chapters in many cities around the world. They have active Facebook groups and many meetups are advertised on their groups. You’ll find the links to each city’s Facebook group on their website.

Slack Groups

In some cities, you will find that the networking discussion and meetups for Digital Nomads and Expats are advertised on Slack groups, where you’ll find different channels for different types of topics and activities.

Language Exchange meetups

Language exchange meetups are usually held 1-2 times per week in major cities around the world. If you’re not interested in learning a language, don’t worry, people mostly go there to make new friends. You can find out about these meetups on Facebook groups, and they are often advertised on, on couchsurfing events, in language schools, or as a Facebook event.

In many countries, these events are organized on Mundo Lingo.  

Find a language exchange partner

If you are seriously interested in practising a language, the language exchange meetups are a great place to find a partner to practise one on one, in a quieter setting. You can also find someone at work, school, etc. or by asking on Facebook groups “who wants to do a language exchange with me? I’d like to learn X language, and I can help you practise X language.

When you do a language exchange with someone, you meet whenever and wherever you want, and talk in the language that you want to improve for half the duration of the meeting, and then practise the language that you speak and that your partner wants to learn for the other half of the meeting. For example, you can decide to meet up once a week for 2 hours, speak Spanish for 1 hour and speak English for another hour. Or meet twice a week for 3 hours, etc. You and your partner decide on the duration and frequency. This can lead to a long-lasting friendship! 

Go on a Free Walking Tour

In most major cities, you will find companies offering free walking tours. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself during your first days in your new city, but also to meet other people who are either travelling there or living there and getting to know the city. A lot of hostels also offer free walking tours. 

Go on an Organized Day Trip

If there are great sights around your new city, why not do a day trip with a tour company. You will meet other travellers or expats, and maybe find new friends to go explore your new city with. 

Hang Out in Hostels

Some hostels are very sociable and have a lot of activities organized every day. In most hostels, you can go hang out at the bar or at the restaurant area without staying there. 

If you stay in the hostel in a dorm, it’s even easier to meet people. Just say hi to your roommates, ask them the usual questions (where they’re from, how long they have been there, etc.), and then ask them if they want to join you for dinner or drinks or on an activity. 

Join Clubs, Sports Groups, Classes or Special Interest Groups

If you like to learn new things, or you are interested in practising sport or art, find these kinds of group activities in your new city and you’ll make friends with similar interests! 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Language classes
  • Volleyball groups
  • Evening university class
  • Soccer team
  • Cooking class
  • Pottery class
  • Gym
  • Yoga studio
  • Running clubs
  • Dance group
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Photography class
  • Board game evenings
  • Vegan dinner club
  • Ecstatic Dance events

Attend Networking Events in Your Industry

Look for local networking events in your industry to connect with other professionals. It’s a great way to not only make professional connections, but you can also make friends!

Here are some ideas of industry-specific events: 

  • Fuck-up nights
  • Startup networking events
  • Creative Mornings
  • Networking events in specific industries
  • Fairs and conferences in specific industries
  • Digital Nomads Meetup

Go to a Coworking Space

If you work remotely, working from home can get lonely. Choosing to work from a coworking space can be more stimulating as it forces you to get out of your house, and you’ll be surrounded by other people working at the same time as you. You can start conversation over your desk, at the café or by attending networking events that most coworking spaces organize. 

Coworking spaces usually organize many events throughout the week, from skill share events, conferences to social activities. Usually the activities organized by coworking spaces are open to the public. 

Participate in Work Events

If you work in person, try to join as many lunch outings or after work drinks as possible, as you can quickly become friends with some of your colleagues! 

Live With Other People

Renting a room in a shared house or apartment is a great way to make friends and to have people to hang out with when you’re at home! If you’re a digital nomad, coliving is the best place to make like-minded friends and to get work done at the same time! 

Read our section about finding accommodation abroad and colivings for more tips! 

Volunteer With a Local Organization

Giving your time to the local community is a noble cause and can make you develop strong friendships with the other volunteers or beneficiaries. Why not start volunteering for a cause that you cherish? For example, you could volunteer at an animal shelter, give a hand at the local soup kitchen or help with refugees settling down in your town. 

Online Dating

Some people use online dating not only to find a romantic partner, but also as a way to make friends. Maybe it didn’t click romantically during the date, but you still have similar interests. You can suggest to meet up again as friends! 

The app Bumble has a function called Bumble BFF. It works the same way as the dating app, but it’s only to make friends. 

Attend a Speed-Dating Event

Whether you’re single or not, attending a speed-dating event is a fun activity to do once in your life! If you see that you have some common interests with someone, but you’re not romantically interested, let them know and ask if you can be friends with them! 

Talk to People in Public Places

Talking to strangers in public places can be intimidating! But with a little bit of practice, it gets easier. If you sit alone at a bar, you can get to know the bar staff and they might give you valuable tips about your new city. 

If you overhear a conversation and that you have an interest or a question, don’t hesitate to interrupt and join in the conversation! 

Attend Cultural Events

Don’t stop yourself from going to events, concerts, festivals, art exhibitions or any cultural activity that interests you just because you haven’t found anyone to go with! You can still enjoy yourself alone, and you can try to talk to strangers and there are lots of chances that they’ll be sociable and become your friends, as you have similar interests! 

You can find a list of local events, concerts and festivals on the following platforms: 

  • Facebook (in the Events section)
  • Eventbrite
  • Bands in Town
  • Social media (on the pages of local communities, venues and promoters)
  • Local cultural newspapers, magazines, blogs and online magazine
  • Local events calendar websites
  • Posters in coffee shops and on the streets
  • The city’s website and tourists publication
  • Tourist information centre
  • Museums & Artists Studios
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