[dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]ext time you are going solo – be it backpacking or on a business trip – make sure you download these free travel apps to help you make friends with strangers. Alternatively, you can just go up and say hi (but who does that?)
With 30,000 downloads to date, Tripr helps you chat, connect and meet with people going to the same destination as you, so you can “plan who you cross paths with”. Before you arrive, you can get tips from locals and plan an itinerary, and even find out if any friends of your happen to be going to the same music festival as you, for example, so you don’t miss them. After logging in via Facebook, you can post where and when you are going, and then chat to people you are matched with, a bit like Tinder. You can also see which of your contacts have visited in the past.
This peer-to-peer app lets you link up with with locals in 30 European cities such as London, Barcelona, Paris, Madrid and Amsterdam. You can set up tours (for a fee), meetings or hangouts, and get insider advice. All you have to do is publish your plans on your profile and then start talking to fellow travellers or residents. You can also book BA and Oneworld partner flights at the same time.
This location-based messaging app lets you geo-tag secret messages (either publicly or privately) that can only be opened by people when they are physically in a certain place. For example, your partner could send a message that you could only access when you arrive at your resort, or you could post a video to a group of friends that they could only be retrieved when they get to the airport. Bundles of songs and images can also be “left as a virtual water droplet for people to catch with their phone”.
When on a cruise, there could be thousands of people you never meet, even though you are on the same boat as them all week. With over one million downloads, ShipMate allows you too see other users on board, examine layouts of the ship’s decks and cabin locations, chat, share photos and reviews, and look up scheduled itineraries and excursions. You can also track the journey your vessel is making on a map.
“People don’t realise what a powerful source of information another person’s experience is,” said Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University. Based on this premise, this app lets users ask strangers questions, who in turn can earn points for their advice and kudos within the community. Conversations are private and those looking for help get 100 free credits to start them off – after that it costs US$0.99 for another 50. There is also the option to meet up in person and talk face to face.
Available in 170 countries, the Travel Buddies app helps you find a like-minded companion to share an adventure with – because sometimes, we all get bored of our own company. Or maybe you need someone to keep you safe when you go diving, for instance. When you land at your destination, you can see others who are nearby, converse via instant messaging, and take things from there.
Budget explorers can take advantage of this app not only to book low-cost accommodation in 800 cities, but read reviews, see images, and connect with other people who are staying there. You can even agree who will be taking the top bunk, so there are no arguments when you check-in.
Claiming to be the “world’s largest network for meeting new people,” location-based social network Skout has fun features such as “shake to chat”, which randomly matches you with people nearby. Of course, you can also IM for free and peruse people’s profiles. It’s available in 180 countries.