Don’t let the fear of being alone stop you from traveling.
The truth is, traveling the world solo is often not as solitary as you might think.
In fact, whether you’re taking a short stopover in another city, or venturing out on a longer adventure abroad, traveling solo offers many opportunities to connect with others. Here are just a few of the ways that you can meet people when you travel abroad.
But First: A Note on Talking to Strangers
Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be intimidating and awkward at first, but (like anything else) it’s a skill that comes with practice. So, the best way to get better at it is to go out there and try.
If you put yourself out there and it’s awkward the first couple of times, don’t beat yourself up about it. When you’re traveling no one really knows you and you likely won’t see that person ever again. So, what do you have to lose?
The worst thing you have to endure is a few moments of embarrassment if the interaction fizzles out, but it’s worth it for the potential friendship and great memories that could result from connecting with a stranger.
Ways to Meet People When You Travel Solo
Ready to dive right in and make some new friends? Here are some ideas for where to start.
1. Take Part in a Free Walking Tour
Many cities around the world will have free walking tours available. Usually, these tours offer you a 2-3 hour walk around the main highlights of the city center, giving you an introduction into the history and significance of the major sights and landmarks. They are free to attend, although you are invited to give your tour guide a tip at the end of the tour if you enjoyed yourself.
These types of fun, casual walking tours are a great way to meet people. Depending on whether or not it’s peak season, you’ll be wandering around in a crowd of anywhere from 10-30 people. During the walk between one sight and the next, you can strike up a conversation with the person walking next to you. By the end of the tour, you just might have some new friends (or at least someone to meet up with later for coffee or drinks.)
2. Stay in a Hostel
Hostels are the best style of accommodation for solo travelers, as they offer so many built-in opportunities to interact with other travelers. Most hostels will have a common room where friendly conversation usually starts, as well as a shared kitchen (a great strategy for making friends is to cook something delicious and offer to share… everyone loves good food!).
If you aren’t keen on the idea of staying in a dorm room, don’t worry. Most hostels have private rooms as well, so you can enjoy the community aspect without having to listen to anyone else snore.
3. Sit at The Bar
When dining alone, try sitting at the bar rather than at your own table. You’ll be in a better position to naturally strike up a conversation with the people sitting next to you – or even the friendly bartender.
Another option is to choose a restaurant that is laid out in a cafeteria style with long, communal tables. This style of restaurant is popular in some parts of the world and it can be an excellent, natural opportunity to interact with the people dining around you and meet people when you travel solo.
4. Take a Class
Consider taking a class or a workshop on your travel adventures. Whether you are learning how to cook Thai food in Bangkok, taking a tango dancing class in Argentina or studying the art of Chinese brush painting in Shanghai, you’ll get a chance to meet lots of interesting locals and visitors who have similar interests.
Plus, you’ll be learning something new and immersing yourself in an interesting aspect of the local culture. It’s truly a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful and memorable. (Even if you try something new and you are terrible at it, you can simply laugh it off and bond over the shared experience.)
5. Use Social Media
Some would argue that social media stops us from being connected while we travel, because it leads us to be on our phones all the time when we could be striking up conversations with each other.
However, there are many ways that you can use social media to meet people when you travel solo. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask your Facebook friends if they know anyone who lives in the city you are heading to, and if they will connect you to them.
- Use the “Search by Location” feature on Instagram to find photos from people who are also in the same destination as you. A comment like, “Wow, that gelato looks delicious. I’m in Rome right now too, where did you get it?” can lead to a conversation – and perhaps an opportunity to meet.
- Join Facebook groups for newcomers and expats in the city you are visiting. They often advertise regular events and meetups which can be great opportunities to make friends.
- You can also look for Facebook Groups and Events related to activities you enjoy – such as yoga, hiking, etc. (Which is a great way to meet people you already have something in common with.)
Solo Travel Lets You Enjoy Being Alone OR Connect with Others
The wonderful thing about solo travel is that it offers you the choice of how much interaction you want to have on any given day. You can enjoy your own company as much as you like, or you can put yourself in a social situation and make some great connections. This style of travel really does offer the best of both worlds.