26 Sep 2013 How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo
Most people who travel alone will tell you that they couldn’t imagine traveling in any other way, and they’re the kind of people that thrive on being by themselves. However, it’s a simple fact of life that people do need other people, and even the most independent of solo traveler knows that they need company every now and again.
If you’re not used to traveling alone, making friends on the road can be a very alien concept and seem impossible before you set out on your trip. However, with more experience and confidence building up as you go, meeting new people while going it alone isn’t actually as hard as it sounds. Here are a few tips to get you started out on being a solo travel social butterfly.
Pick your accommodation wisely
There are styles of accommodation that will make it really hard to meet people, and places where you’ll meet so many people that you’ll find it difficult to keep up with it all. If you stay in a regular hotel, a place that doesn’t have much of a social atmosphere to it, it can make it more difficult to talk to people. I find the kinds of travelers who stay in places like these are ones who like to keep themselves to themselves, which of course has a time and a place, but if you want to meet people there are better options out there.
Hostels, on the other hand, are completely the opposite, and the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to meet other travelers and people to hang out with. Use hostel comparison websites and reviews to figure out where the most popular hostels are, and you’ll be making friends from the moment you step in the door.
Figuring out what kind of accommodation is best for you to meet people in is step number one towards meeting people whilst traveling alone, so putting in the research here will definitely pay off.
Confidence isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, but when you’re traveling alone you sometimes need to throw yourself out of your comfort zone in order to get the most out of the experience. One element of this involves plucking up the courage to talk to new people, and even though it might sound like a daunting prospect at first, once you’ve traveled alone for a while it becomes much easier to be able to do this.
If you’re staying in a hostel, it’s incredibly easy to start talking to someone, and I’ve always said that’s one of the main things I love about hostels – they’re one of the very few places on the planet where it’s completely acceptable to strike up a conversation with the person sat next to you, and it in no way comes off as creepy. Make the most of having travelers around you, and chat to other people who might be traveling alone as they will be equally grateful for the company.
Get involved with Couchsurfing
Staying in a hostel isn’t the only way to meet people while traveling solo, of course, and websites such as Couchsurfing have revolutionised the way people get social whilst traveling. If you don’t fancy meeting a whole load of other travelers and would prefer to mingle with the locals, why not try your hand at Couchsurfing. This website connects travelers with locals and offers accommodation with a local to those people passing through the city.
Not only could you use it for finding a place to stay, Couchsurfing has also become a great way for travelers to connect through social events. Many cities have a weekly Couchsurfing meet-up, so always take a look through the events board for your destination on the Couchsurfing website to see if anything is going on during the time you’re there. The kind of people that use Couchsurfing are the kind that are willing to talk to anyone and everyone, and the open community it provides is perfect for the solo traveler looking to make new friends.
Take a tour, learn a language, and get social
Making friends while traveling solo essentially just involves putting yourself in the situation where you interact with others through a shared interest or activity. Taking a tour is one way to get chatting to other people, or signing up for a few language classes is another. Those are just two examples of things you could do to put yourself in a social situation, and I have found both to be very effective for making friends whilst on the road.
Sometimes making friends whilst traveling solo can really take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s something that comes naturally with more practice. Give yourself a little push each day to talk to someone new, and before you know it you’ll have friends all over the world.
About the author: Emma Higgins has been writing/traveling on and off since 2009. Her blog, Gotta Keep Movin’, is full of stories and advice from her trips, which include Europe, India, Morocco, South America, USA and Canada.