I tried sharing a meal with strangers while traveling — and now I’m hooked

Nov 9, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

We here at TPG are no strangers to travel (obviously) but I like to think that I venture out even more than the average TPG staffer. I’ve spent the last few years wandering around the world, from Kazakhstan to the Maldives and everywhere in between. I’ve seen more museums than I can count, climbed in so many medieval castles that I’m basically a 14th century princess and I am so tired of riding the double decker tour bus.

The Hop On Hop Off Double Decker Sightseeing Tour Bus. (Photo by Stefan-Kadar/Getty Images)
The Hop On Hop Off Double Decker Sightseeing Tour Bus. (Photo by Stefan-Kadar/Getty Images)

So when opportunities come about for me to do something a little bit different, I jump on them. Like sharing a meal with strangers.

My first experience dining with unfamiliar faces occurred in Tbilisi, Georgia, nearly a year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Why? Because eating at someone’s house is real — it’s homemade food made by average Joes like me who usually have a soft spot for playing board games after dinner. It’s meeting families and learning traditions and making friends to keep in touch with well beyond your meal. It’s a world away from the skip-the-line ticket at the Vatican and I’m in love with it.

My first experience dining with locals was amazing. (Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy).

Since my first experience in Tbilisi (in which I linked arms with my host and drank from a goat horn full of homemade wine), I’ve dined with locals in two other countries: Kazakhstan and Lithuania. Each experience was more unique than the last, but they’ve all had one thing in common: authenticity. And I’m not alone in loving this. Dining with locals tours are popping up all over the internet, with an entire platform dedicated to finding you folks with whom to share a meal.

I’ve booked my dinners through different sites each time, first with Like a Local, which is a large tour site that features freelance guides offering tons of different activities. I used a local site for Kazakhstan, called Friendly Tours, owned and operated by two very friendly Kazakh girls from Almaty. Finally, for Lithuania, I booked through Eatwith, which is arguably the largest platform for dining with locals, and features meals with people from over 130 countries.

The booking process for all three was very similar. This is still a pretty new service in general, so often in a location there is just a single host offering these meals. It’s very simple to manage: you search your location, select your dinner, then book and pay through the website. It’s as simple as that.

Post-dinner board games are universally fun. (Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy).

Is it uncomfortable? Sometimes. But as uncomfortable as you’d be hanging out with any strangers anywhere. Food brings people together in a way that little else does, and there’s nothing better than that.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel tips!

Feature photo courtesy of Teefarm/Pixabay.

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$150
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.