Meeting new people and potentially new friends when travelling alone on paper can be a daunting task.
Some travellers are introverts and may suffer have anxiety or shyness so their confidence levels.
Others have only known group holidays. They start their solo travel career but may not have the first idea where to look.
There are some who like myself meet in the middle: long for fresh, memorable social interactions when abroad and to connect with people from all around the world.
Whatever the reason, knowing the social hubs is likely to be a jumping off point most solo travellers need. Given I’ve been solo travelling for roughly a year I think I’ve gathered enough intel to share with you my own tips and tricks.
Right – here we go
Arguably in terms of mixing in with large crowds that are here for the same reason, group tours are more than ideal opportunities coming across new people.
Group tours can be in the form of a city walking tours or a group tour around a museum or place of interest.
Some walking tours in cities are even free of charge. It’s like they say – friendships cost nothing right?
Striking up conversation with anyone a part of the tour should be easier than in the other suggestions. You and the others already have one thing in common: for example it’s art if the tour is in an art gallery or history if it’s a natural history museum (and maybe being a tourist too). Hey – perhaps if it’s all going well you can join them for the rest of the day or vice versa.
Go To Bars And Restaurants
This is probably the most audacious one among the “Hows” and the one that certainly gets people saying to solo travellers: “that’s so brave of you that you’re travelling”
Society would tell you drinking at the bar on a Friday or Saturday night and eating at a restaurant without anyone else by your side is a bit taboo and there’s something wrong with you. But for me society gets an L for this. Why can’t you enjoy your own company and treat yourself if you’ve deserved it or want to live life.
I remember when I was bar hopping in Majorca to explore the nightlife a bit more and a group of four women (from London as well funnily enough) invited me to join them. I actually refused multiple times but caved in and had an incredible time breaking the ice, playing drinking games and. Bless them still to this day. It then was a snowball for me
Interact with the barman or barmaid or waitress. Talk about the best drinks or food on the menu. Discuss the sports event shown on TV with the person next to you. Congratulate someone who’s celebrating their birthday or engagement someone celebrating their birthday. By observing your surroundings, these environmental cues will be a guide and can be your best friend.
P.S. I highly recommend this if you’re single and wanr to maximise your single life.
Special mention: Coffee shops are great recommendations if you can find them in the city or town you’re exploring. That’s if you aren’t into nightlife or clubbing.
Hostels And B&Bs
Shared accommodation is a popular way in which you’re find yourself naturally mixing in with other people.
Check out the common room or mingle in the bars if the hostel or B&B has one. Chill in the kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee. Whether you like coffee or not is not the point – the point is to find a reason to and place yourself into a social setting so that those interactions are possible. Or simply just wait for people to come into the shared dormitory you’re in. For most hostels you get the choice of having a single gender dorm or mixed gender.
I’ve found this great read by Juli from LettersFromaTravellingGirl on making friends when staying in a hostel In fact it’s what inspired me to write this post so shoutout to Juli!
Hitchhiking is an activity that I never initially considered but that’s because truthfully – I didn’t have a good enough of and with access to more inexpensive transport and society becoming more individualistic, hitchhiking as a means of to get to destinations is a thing of the past.
Now having been educated on what hitchhiking is; being escorted to destinations and places via securing rides from drivers or rider it is the ultimate push you need to interact with people and see travellling in a whole different light.
Traditionally as a hitchhiker you find lifts from vehicles passing you by on an open road. You also can find lifts from peope who are done with their shopping at shopping centres or malls. Spot them fuelling their cars or trucks at a petrol station. Wherever you find them dress appropriately, make eye contact, smile, pray their vehicles have enough space for your luggage and you’re all good for the hitchhiking life.
According to what I’ve read up on hitchhiking you can go from living bougie in 5 star accommodation to camping in someone’s garden. Hitchhiking can be a humbling and bare experience and it calls for you to take what you get with gratitude. You may find yourself opening up to your driver and temporary hosts more than you would with acquaintances or locals, and vice versa as your time with them is likely – well – temporary! Keep their secrets to yourself though.
Meetup with Social Media Buddies
Have that one or two wanderlusters you’ve always been talking to over on Twitter or Facebook?
Why not organise to meetup with them if you’re travelling to the city or country they’re based in Effectively they can be your tour guide since they know all the ins and outs of their own area and can show you the hidden gems, experiencing it all from a local’s perspective.
It’s a chance to meet your online buddy face to face, create some great memories together and take home knowledge you may or may not have taken in if you visited alone. Your travel just gets more enriching.
Where are your go to places for meeting new people whilst abroad? Are there any stories of you meeting other travellers and befriending them? Do you often prefer your own company?
Till the next post – Peace 👊🏾
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures