The past couple of days I have drastically increased my research and planning for the first couple of weeks of our journey. One thing that I have learned from previous trips is that it is really nice to connect beforehand with local people in the countries that you plan to travel to. It is really cool to have people to meet up with for breakfast, lunch, coffee or dinner.
Some of my best traveling experiences have been when I have a friend or contact through a friend and meet up with them in the country I am visiting. It provides a whole new perspective and outlook on the country that you are visiting. It is also comforting to know that you have somebody to reach out to if you need help or just some advice.
My good friend Chris who once lived in El Salvador introduced me via email to three people in San Salvador. Over the past couple of weeks we have been in communication and each one of them has invited Debbie and I over for a meal. This is really a special thing to have when you visit a foreign country and I am truly grateful for the invitations.
The other really cool thing we get to do is celebrate Chanukkah with the small Jewish community in San Salvador. I remember researching and reaching out last year, but I was not able to get in contact with anyone. Chris put me in touch with one of the members and through him I was able to connect with the Rabbi. They had a Chanukkah party this past Saturday that unfortunately we missed, but said he will be happy to spend time with us when we arrive. There is one synagogue in San Salvador and I am looking forward to checking this out. I made a list of things to do and ways to research if you want to try and meet people before you arrive and scheduled meetings for your trip.
Five ways to meet people or find events before traveling to your destination:
1. Email friends and family to find out if they have contacts in the countries you are traveling to. You should start at least 3-4 months before you arrive.
2. Research to see if there are any churches or synagogues and email or call to introduce yourself.
3. Search social networking sites like Facebook for local groups or clubs that have your interests.
4. Search Meetup.com for groups, meetings or networking events in those countries.
5. Contact the your nations embassy in the country you are visiting.
Have you ever scheduled meetings with locals in countries you were travling to?
What unique ways have you found people or groups to meetup with?