Solo Travel Is Not A Lonely Game!
There’s a certain misconception about solo traveling that forces people to believe that once you hit the road solo, you’ll be doomed to spend the rest of your trip “forever alone”. This is simply not true. In fact, when you travel alone, you’re more inclined to meet new people since you’re not glued to your travel partner and are free to make spontaneous acquaintances. But how exactly do you make those? Here are a few tips on how to make friends when travelling solo:
First Way to Make Friends When Traveling Solo: Ask a question
It can’t get any simpler than that. If you want to make friends when you travel solo, you’ve GOT to work on your social skills. This might not come across as easy for those who (like me) are introverts and tend to stay quiet most of the time. But asking one simple question like “What’s your name?” or “Where do you come from?” can easily spark a conversation, which eventually will help you recognise if the person you’re talking to is somebody you can potentially hang out with. If you never ask, you’ll never learn. So don’t be too shy!
Second: Give people 15 minutes of fame
People love talking — especially about themselves. We all have stories to tell and we love sharing them with people around.
So do a stranger a favour — be his listener! Choose a topic of conversation that would allow people to show their expertise at something. Could they give you a good sightseeing recommendation? Do they have any insightful cultural remarks they could share with you?
Let them express their opinion and shine a little bit, then pay attention to what they have to say and chime in with a relevant comment. Et voila!
Third: Choose hostels over hotels
Hostels are perfect for making friends if you travel solo. It really depends on how lucky you are with your roommates, though — sometimes, instead of making friends with them you should try to stay away as much as you can. So before you start polishing your social skills with your roommates, take your time to observe and see what they’re into. If the magic does happen and you somehow “click”, there is a good chance you can acquire a travel buddy. Once you’ve noticed the “spark” in a conversation, take the first step and, in a terribly casual manner, say that there’s this travel tour (or a day trip, or a restaurant, et cetera, et cetera) that you were dying to check out. And then, even more casually, ask if he or she would like to join. Easy peasy.
Don’t be scared to be the first one to make offers and suggestions — most people, when presented with an exciting opportunity, are likely to take it. That’s just a traveller’s nature.
Fourth: Take tours
Whether it’s an excursion around the city or a boat cruise down the river, tours are the easiest way to meet new people with similar cultural interests. I make the most pleasant acquaintances when I go on tours — sometimes I find a carefree buddy to have fun with, or a serious companion to discuss life in all its depth… Once I even got a job offer when I was on a tour (crazy, right?!). This just proves the fact that interesting people can easily enter your life if you just create an opportunity for that to happen.
And putting yourself out there and taking a tour with like-minded people is exactly the type of opportunity that I’m talking about.
Fifth: Travel to countries based on your interests
Are you a dedicated hiker and mountain lover? Then go to the Alps! Are you a surfing addict? Then visit Australia, famous for its beautiful surf spots. Or maybe you’re crazy about scuba diving? Then Egypt would be your next best travel destination.
If you pick countries that offer what you truly love, you’re bound to find somebody with the same obsession — and eventually, you’re bound to connect.
Sixth: Try out Couchsurfing
Yes, yes — couchsurfing. At this point, this is one of the world’s most popular travel networks — a network that is built on trust and friendship. The fundamental idea of couchsurfing is not just to offer a spare couch to fellow travellers, but to connect with people from all over the world and get to know other cultures first hand. Hosts are usually very eager to find out more about you, asking billions of questions about your surroundings and travel experiences. And more often than not, they are also eager to hang out with you too, trying to show you around or, at the very least, give you a handful of useful sightseeing tips. In other words, couchsurfing is a great package — you get a friend and a personal guide in one.
Seventh: Explore online possibilities
In the modern digital day, being “connected” is crucial for any avid traveller. Social media is, so far, the best way to find groups and channels full of people to hang out with abroad. Facebook has plenty of travel groups to check out (such as Girl Gone International, for example, which has a sub-group for nearly every capital in the world). And so does MeetUp and other websites (like Couchsurfing forums). So join the online travel community and I promise you will never feel alone solo travelling again!
Eighth: Ask friends of friends
You do have friends — right? And they do have friends themselves — right? So what could be easier than asking in your own network if there are any of your friends’ friends living in the city you’re about to visit?! This is one of the best ways to make friends when travelling solo!
Ninth: Don’t hide behind your phone
Last but not least, don’t bury yourself in your smartphone! Whenever people notice that you’re more involved in a relationship with your phone than in people surrounding you, they’d just care less to make friends with you. So put your phone/book/magazine/whatever it is AWAY. And go make friends.
I always feel like whenever people travel solo, they feel a bit more sociable, a bit more open, a bit more adventurous… But here’s an important thing that I learned: this shift of character means nothing if you don’t create a social opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s your job to let people notice how interesting, fun and memorable you are.
Therefore, next time you’re travelling solo and you’re struggling to open up, just remember: strangers are the best friends you haven’t met yet. So reach out your hand and open the door of possibilities. After all, creating possibilities is what travel is really all about.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hey! I am Olga from The Russian Abroad and the name of my blog says it all, doesn’t it? Back in 2014, I created *The
Russian Abroad* to capture the experiences that I collect on the road, as well as to connect with other fellow travellers and explorers. I love getting inspired, and I love it even more to inspire others. My mission is to spread the excitement around, infect with wanderlust, give itchy feet, and help people learn and discover places they never heard about before.