I love traveling solo, making new friends from all over the world. When I travel with friends, I tend to stick with them as I am sure most people do. I rarely put myself into situations that would allow me to make new friends because to be honest, I am already with a friend so it doesn’t cross my mind to befriend new ones. Traveling solo however, forces you out of your comfort zone. No one wants to spend an entire trip by themselves, which why I think the most common question people ask me is… what are some ways to make friends while traveling solo? It may sound difficult or scary but is a lot easier than you think!
Stay at a hostel
This is the easiest way to meet people. I purposely swap between hostels and hotels for this reason. The first thing I do when I arrive is introduce myself and start up a conversation with my new roommates. Before I know it, I have new friends to explore with. Sometimes we become so close that we travel to another city together or meet up later in a different country.
In Bali, I made friends with Marisella and Thomas at a hostel in Ubud, we then traveled to Canggu together where we befriended Nacho, who was staying at our new hostel. I met my other friend Lee at a hostel in Malaysia, we then met up again and traveled around Bali!
Hangout in your hotels common areas
Hostels aren’t for everyone, so don’t worry if you only stay in hotels. There are still common areas in hotels where you can meet people, as long as you don’t stay hidden in your room. Most have lounges, bars, restaurants, gyms and pools which are all great settings to meet people. Sun bathing by the pool at the Panwa Beach Resort, munching on a tea time snack at the club lounge in the Crowne Plaza, listening to a band play at the PARKROYAL lounge, these are all situations that allowed me to befriend people also staying at my hotel.
Sign up for a pub crawl or booze cruise
We all know that drinking can bring people together. 😛 Hop around to different bars or soak up the sun while cheering with your new friends over a pint… or maybe a shot!
Book an excursion/day trip/activity
Tours are a great way to meet people. Everyone is in the same boat (sometimes literally!), excited and eager to spend a fun day out. All you have to do is pass a comment about something you are doing/seeing during the tour and start up a conversation from there!
I went on a day trip to Stonehenge in England and ended up making friends during my trip after passing a remark about the monument to one of them. We later met up again for a fun night out in London!
Couchsurfing allows you to stay with someone living in the destination you are visiting. Not only do you get to stay with a local but you get free accommodation, as you are not charged for your stay. It is the perfect way to truly get to know about the place you are visiting. After all, you always get the best tips from a local! Most hosts hangout with you whether its while sharing stories over a home cooked meal or walking around town with you. There are also couchsurfing events that you can attend, to meet other couchsurfers.
There are many ways you can put this to good use. Facebook is my favorite, post a status on where you are traveling to see if anyone you know will be around to meet up. There are also specific groups for meeting up with people while traveling or just have an interest in travel, even in specific places. Sometimes you befriend people in one of these groups that might be in the same place as you or will be in the future. I am part of travel blogging groups where I talk to people all the time. In the past, I have met up with some of them when we happen to cross locations. It is great to finally meet someone that you have been chatting to online!
I met fellow travel blogger Laura from Traveling Weasels in a blogger Facebook group. We then met up when we were in Athens!
This is a great way to meet up with a group of people who have common interest, no matter where you are. It is free to join and you can participate in as many group meet ups as you want. The meet ups range from events, dinners, museums, hikes, even if you want it as specific ethnic group, gender, singles only, etc… this site has it all.
Go on a guided tour
Before I traveled completely solo, I would book guided tours that were more than just your average day tour. These take you to multiple cites or countries for various time frames. I would tend to choose ones that have a specific age range, usually between 18-35. That is pretty much guaranteeing that the people on the trip are my age and have the same idea… sightseeing in the day and partying at night! The companies I have used in the past are Contiki, EF College Break and Top Deck. I still keep in touch with many of the friends I made on these tours and even met up with them again during my travels.
I went on a 2 week tour of Europe with Contiki a few years ago and loved it! I recently met up with some of the friends I made that live in Melbourne while I was in town.
Help at an orphanage in Fiji, take care of elephants in Thailand, clean up pollution in the Philippines… there are plenty of options. Not only are you making new friends, you are making a difference while doing it.
Hangout at hostel bars
Just because you aren’t staying at a hostel, doesn’t mean you can’t hangout in one. Many hostels have bars that you can go to, which will be crawling with other travelers. Sometimes they even advertise parties or gatherings, so keep an eye open for flyers.
This hostel in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia has a pool bar that you can swim up to and play beer pong with the bar on the other side of the pool.
You don’t need to necessarily stay at a hostel or book a tour to make friends, just approach people wherever you are. If I spot someone around my age, who looks like a possible traveler or perhaps just has a friendly face, I try to find a way to spark up a conversation. Chat to someone that is waiting in line with you and ask if he/she has any tips on what to do in the area. Get someone to take a photo of you while sightseeing and find out where they are from afterwards. I’ll admit… I’ve even pretended I didn’t know where I was going on public transportation, asking which stop to get off and started a conversation from there. Sometimes it is a short chat while others have lead to walking around and sightseeing together!