For many, the point of traveling solo is to get away from it all: the monotony of day-to-day life, the bills that tie us down, the loves that broke our hearts. But loneliness is a real thing, even when are you doing some of the most thrilling things of your life. I wrote recently about how I had never felt more alone than when I traveled to Paris by myself. I know you may be thinking: quit complaining! You’re traveling! Alone! Hallelujah! But sometimes you may have just a little too much time in your own head. So when loneliness kicks in, here are the tried and true ways I’ve found to making friends when you are traveling alone. Sometimes, you just need the companionship, even if it’s only for one night!
Stay in a Hostel
Even though I am in my 30s, I still find staying in hostels one of the best ways to meet people. Normally everyone there is traveling for an extended period of time, and knows that it is a vital part of traveling to meet people on the road. This is how you get our best tips and tricks for your current location, and where you can learn about hidden places only local travelers will know of. So when staying in a hostel, go sit in the common area, WITHOUT YOUR PHONE, and talk to people. They might turn out to be you new best friends while on the road.
This picture was taken just last year, while staying at hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam. We really did meet some great people! Who doesn’t like a good party on your hostel’s rooftop?
Volunteer (even just for a day)
You know my love of volunteering and how I think it’s a great way to meet people of all walks of life. I met the greatest people when I volunteered in South America for a few months, but now some organizations allow you to volunteer for just one day, which can be a great way to feel good, meet people, and do some good in the world! Give A Day Global is one of them I can highly recommend. Look for local organizations in your hometown, and see if they have any connections abroad. You will meet like-minded volunteers who could end up being your friends the rest of your trip.
[read more about Give A Day Global in my interview with Kelsey]
Connect via Interests Online
I know the world is scary, and people can be really intimidating. But the internet has made it so incredibly easy to meet like-minded people from all over the world. Before you leave on your trip, connect with people in groups or forums that are similar to your own mindset about the trip. If you are looking to drink a new beer in every country, find a brewery group in some of those bigger cities. If you like to walk, find people who are also interested in the walking group you’ve had your eye on. You can find a group, club, or tour based on almost anything. Join the group and dive in! You never know who you will meet.
Take a Tour
On that same note, when you get to your destination of choice, I highly recommend taking a tour. Free or paid, it is a great way to meet people. Most of the time, you end up getting a beer or food after, which is really fun! If it’s a walking tour or a multi-city venture, connecting with people on a tour is the easiest thing to do. They are also there to learn and meet new people. If they weren’t, they would have just done this walking stuff on their own. Look at places like Fat Tire bike tour in Barcelona, City Free Tour in Paris, or City Walk Reykjavik in Iceland I have met people from around the world on these types of tours when traveling solo. In Barcelona, we even stayed out all night eating local tapas with our tour guide. One of my favorite experiences, and I would have never done it had I tried to explore these areas on my own.
Meeting new friends for dinner in Florence, Italy.
a grainy shot of drinking wine and eating tapas with new friends from my tour in Barcelona, Spain. We stayed out all night together!
You are already out of your comfort zone, so it is time to open up sister. You never know who you will meet, and what you will get to do because of these interactions. I know it seems scary, and I know you think you will look stupid. But you won’t! Most people traveling, solo or not, have been where you are and are always willing to talk to anyone friendly. So smile, and walk up to someone and say hi! You don’t know if that next person you meet could be your new favorite person on the panet. The key here is to be open and willing to meet anyone and everyone.