A lot of people are afraid of travelling alone because they fear loneliness. They feel awkward about doing activities by themselves, walking around, and especially eating alone. But don’t worry, it is actually really easy to meet people while traveling solo! I’ve been traveling solo for more than a decade now, and I absolutely love it. I’ve met so many cool people and made new friends.
You’d never guess it now, but I was a painfully shy child and an awkward teenager. As a student, I came out of my shell and developed the social skills to interact and chat with strangers.
Travelling alone helped me hone those skills and I now feel confident striking up conversations and meeting new people. And the beauty of traveling alone is that others are likely looking to make new friends as well so your efforts to be nice and friendly are always appreciated.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’ve sure had my fair share of practice. People compliment me on how social and easy to get along with I am, something I never would have expected 10 years ago. So let my experience be your guide and hopefully, I can help you make the most of your next solo trip. I’ve listed my tips and tricks for meeting new friends, dinner companions, and drinking buddies on the road:
Stay in a hostel
If you are willing to sacrifice a little comfort and privacy for fun and budget friendly accommodation, then hostels are perfect. I personally love hostels as they are the core of the backpacker community. Staying at a hostel is the easiest way to meet people while traveling solo.
Hostels are filled with young, broke backpackers who love to exchange tales and meet new people. I always pick hostels that have a common area and good reviews that mention a friendly atmosphere.
The best hostels also organize activities to help you get in contact with the other guests. Simply introducing yourself to your roommates and other travelers when you arrive always works great. And don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with other guests, most likely they are solo travelers too. There’s a good chance you’ll immediately be invited to join for dinner, a drink, or a card game.
Not sure how? I’ve found that simply asking people where they are from, how long they’ve been here, and where they are going next and great icebreakers for travelers.
Join a Free Walking Tour
Free Walking Tours are not just a great way to explore a city, they also help you meet new people. There will be plenty of material to pass awkward silences: simply comment on something you’re looking at or ask people where they are from.
If there are other solo travelers in the group, they might want to come to that museum with you, have lunch or join you for a drink aftet the tour.
Go on a pub crawl
Just like walking tours, pub crawls drop you in a group of strangers, with the added benefit of alcohol as a social lubricant. And pub crawls often give you a great deal on a night out with free or reduced drinks.
Even if you are not a heavy drinker, pub crawls are a great way to meet people while traveling solo.
Volunteer your time
Workaway, WOOFF and the like allow you to exchange a few hours of work a day for room and board. The work varies from babysitting to farming, cleaning or chores. This is especially suited for a longer stay and great for budget travellers.
Working at a hostel is especially fun as you’ll have both your colleagues and guests to hang out with. I worked in hostels in Europe, South East Asia, and North America, and always had a blast.
Swipe away on dating apps
Tinder, or any other dating app, is designed specifically to meet people. Of course, the first objective is not platonic, but it can still work for that as well. Simply edit your bio to reflect what you are looking for and how long you are staying. Most dating apps now also have a “friends” option, like Bumble BFF.
And if you are open to a date, who knows, maybe the love of your life is a local 😉 It’s how I ended up with a super romantic date in Venice.
Meet locals through Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing allows you crash on a locals couch so it saves you money as well. Couchsurfing hosts love to meet new people, show you around their city and hang out. Some of my best travel experiences have come from staying with locals through Couchsurfing.
Not ready to sleep at a strangers house? Couchsurfers also organize activities for travelers that you can join anyway.
If you get the Couchsurfing app and create a profile, you can also use Hangouts. You write down what you would like to do, become available and see other travelers and locals in your vicinity who would like to hang out, go for a coffee, hit up a museum, get dinner, etc.
I’ve met some really awesome people through Hangouts when I was traveling alone. The highlight was definitely a massive group hang out at the Festa del Redentore in Venice with 15 strangers who all responded to the Couchsurfing Hangout.
Find travel buddies on GAFFL
GAFFL is an online platform for connecting travelers. People post trips here and request to join the trips of others. If you are planning to backpack or road trip, this is an especially useful website. With my link you get 7 days of free connects!
Join an online community
Facebook seems to be on its way out as a social media platform, but it is really useful for finding travel buddies and meeting people on the road.
There are great Facebook Groups for backpackers and travelers. Some are specific to solo female travelers, other specify by region or country. A quick Facebook search might result in some groups to join where you can ask questions and organize meet ups. I also recommend joining Girls Love Travel and Host a Sister as a way to connect with other solo female travelers around the globe.
Another great online community is Wanderful. This is a website and app specifically for female travelers and travel content creators. It’s especially useful for travel bloggers, travel agents and influencers, offering networking and masterclasses. But it’s also a good place to connect with fellow travelers around the world.
Talk to strangers
Okay, okay, this one is a little on the nose. But talking to strangers is the key to all of it. You won’t be able to meet people while traveling solo if you don’t. It is scary and awkward, but so worth getting out of your comfort zone. As soon as you get over the hurdle and just strike up a conversation, you will notice that most people are very happy to chat with you.
It can be someone standing next to you in a museum, someone in line at the supermarket, the waiter at a restaurant, someone sitting at the bar. Just saying ‘hi’ goes a long way. Ask how people are doing, show some interest and let the conversation flow from there.
In my experience, people are happy to chat with a traveler and give you some tips on things to do or even show you around. But of course, always keep your wits about you and don’t put yourself in risky situations!
Solo travel can seem daunting, but it’s the adventure of a lifetime. And it’s much easier than you might think to meet people while traveling solo! It’s all about pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone and open up to people. And there are plenty of settings that facilitate this, such as staying at hostels and joining a walking tour.
How do you usually meet people when you travel alone? Any tips and tricks that I should add? Let me know in the comments.
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