Solo travel isn’t necessarily about being alone. Here’s how you can meet people on your next solo trip:
The people you meet during your travels have the potential to change your life. Sounds dramatic, but you’d be surprised how fast you can connect with a stranger while traveling. It only takes one conversation to change the way that you think or live your life. Monuments and sites are beautiful, but the real magic lies in the connections that you’ll make on the road.
Ironically, solo travel is the easiest way to meet other people. When you think of traveling alone, you probably imagine pure solitude in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle or something like that. The reality is that you’ll hardly ever be alone. With a bit of effort, you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded travelers or people you’d never meet back home.
As an introvert, I doubted my ability to make friends while traveling solo. I wanted to spend time alone, but I also wanted to meet some really awesome people. I ended up making so many friends, and it was easier than I ever thought. I can honestly say that my travels wouldn’t be nearly exciting if I was hopping from one site to another with limited interaction. I can’t thank the people I’ve met enough for making my trips so special! Solo travel isn’t necessarily about being alone. Here’s how to meet people on your next solo trip:
Just kidding, but not really. At the end of the day, you can meet people anywhere if you’re open to it. I’ve had solo female travelers approach me under a bridges, on the street, on buses. The possibilities are endless!
Staying in a hostel is the easiest way to meet other travelers, by far. Most hostels have communal areas that are set-up for interacting with others. In fact, there are moments where I have to try really hard to be alone because everyone is usually so social. You’ll make friends in no time if you choose to stay in a hostel for your first solo trip. If you’re not staying at a hostel, you can still show up at the hostel bar and/or various events to meet people.
Maybe hostels aren’t your thing? No worries! There are other options! If you book a few day trips, you’ll put yourself in direct contact with other travelers – even better if you book a tour that specifically caters to your interests. Enjoy cooking? Book a cooking class! Always wanted to learn a language? Take a language class! Most cities offer free walking tours that you can sign up for! Viator, Airbnb Experiences, and Urban Adventures are great for booking day trips!
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Missing out on nightlife is one of the worst parts of solo travel. Admittedly, it feels awkward to show up to a bar or party alone. You can sign up for salsa nights, pub crawls, boat parties, etc. in your destination to join a group. Just do a little research beforehand to see what’s offered in the city!
Sometimes you meet people in the most unlikely places! Last year, I spent the entire day exploring Venice with a Turkish girl that I met on the overnight bus trip there. She was also solo and she approached me to ask a simple question about the bus schedule. We stuck together from that moment going forward. Don’t rule out buses, trains, and airplanes for meeting other solo travelers!
Did you know that you can use the Couchsurfing app to meet others without sleeping on a stranger’s couch? The Couchsurfing app has a ‘hangouts’ function that allows you to view other people in the city who want to hang out & sight-see. It’s a great way to meet locals and travelers alike. I’ve gone to markets in Mexico, strolled the streets of Paris’ Montmartre neighborhood, and eaten bomb Indian food in Berlin using this cool feature!
Homestays are the best way to dive headfirst into a country’s culture. You get to see how people live up close AND you’ve basically got a built-in tour guide if you choose the ‘private room’ option on Airbnb. I’ve been treated like family by Airbnb hosts in the past and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for a hotel stay if you paid me!
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It’s 2018, people! Don’t be afraid to use social media to meet friends in IRL. I’ve met up with long-time social media friends via Instagram messages. I’ve also met up with other solo travelers via the Girls Love Travel Facebook group that I’m in. Don’t be afraid to message someone if you follow each other and you’re traveling to the same place!
I spent the majority of my days in Guatemala with Spanish school classmates from around the world. You’ll see the same people on a regular basis in a classroom setting, which makes it easier make friends. Always wanted to learn a language? Take a language class! Want to improve your photography? Take a photography class. This is what travel is all about!
You can meet people anywhere and Uber is no exception. As a plus, Uber drivers can make great tour guides! Don’t be shy about asking the driver for tips or recommendations. Uberpool and Blablacar are great ride-sharing apps for meeting locals and travelers alike!
Last year, I spent 5 days sailing at sea with 7 strangers. I signed up to volunteer on the boat in exchange for the cost of the trip and it was an incredible experience. I got to snorkel the San Blas Islands AND get to know people from all over the world. You can find volunteer experiences via Workaway, Worldpackers, and WOOFing.
Group travel is also a great alternative for those who aren’t ready to fully dive into solo travel. I visited Europe for the first time with Ef College Break – a company that does group tours for 18-29-year-olds. Half of the group showed up solo, but we all left as friends. I’ve also traveled solo with Geckos Adventures, a similar travel company for millennials. This is a great way to test the waters!
Regardless of the location, you must be open to meeting other people first and foremost. Be open, both physically and mentally.
The reality is that body language is extremely important. I normally have a RBF, so I have to be very conscious of my body language if I want to meet others. People are less likely to approach someone who doesn’t look like they want to be approached. Smile, introduce yourself and say “YES!” if you’re invited somewhere. You never know where a simple conversation could lead to.
On the other hand, sometimes you’ll need to approach others. Be open to striking up a conversation. Bring up the weather, ask someone where they’re from, discuss a mutual interest, etc. Don’t take it personally when/if someone isn’t receptive. Sometimes people are tired, upset, etc.
You won’t click with everyone, but you’re bound to meet some likeminded people. More often than not, you’ll have to step outside of your comfort zone to make friends during your solo travels. Trust your gut, and enjoy!
Embrace the beautiful strangers you meet during your solo trip. If anything, solo travel has taught me that I’m never actually alone.
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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