Solo travel can be boring sometimes, especially for someone that finds it difficult to make friends while traveling. Use these simple tips on your next solo adventure to make new friends with other travelers and locals. Make sure you read to the end to see the best ways to make friends while traveling alone.
Traveling alone does not have to be a lonely experience. Wherever you go, there are numerous ways to make friends on the transit, and some of those friendships may last longer than you realize. I’ve met new people on solo trips to Arctic Canada, Italy, South Africa, and other places over the last decade. Here’s how I did it and how you can too.
Best Ways To Make Friends While Traveling Alone
You find a friend who is willing to travel with you, you argue for weeks about destinations and schedules, you finally agree on the where, when, and what of your trip, you get super excited and start making plans, and then your friend’s brother gets married that week or they read a news story about how unsafe your destination is.
You try to argue your case and work around more scheduling conflicts, but the trip never happens.
I went through that general scenario several times before I gave up on traveling with friends and decided to go solo. I had places to go and people to see, and I didn’t have time to wait for someone to come with me. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a girl’s trip just as much as the next 20-something female. But these days, I travel alone 99% of the time.
There are enough advantages to traveling alone to warrant an entire article!
I enjoy solo travel because it brings me out of my shell and forces me to fully immerse myself in the location and local culture, and it gives me the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
When I travel alone, I almost never feel truly alone. I’ve never had trouble making friends or finding someone to grab a bite to eat with, join me on an excursion, or simply chat with while traveling. Meeting new and interesting people is my favorite part of traveling.
I’ve had incredibly enlightening discussions about global issues, laughed until I cried, and made unforgettable memories with people I’d never met if I’d traveled with a group.
That’s why, when I read about people who went on solo trips and felt lonely the entire time, it makes me sad. Because we are all unique, solo travel may not be as enjoyable for some as it is for others. However, I truly believe that, when approached correctly, solo travel can be a social experience.
Anyone can make friends while traveling alone and have a more enriching experience as a result!
So today I’m excited to share tips for making friends while traveling alone with you. Let’s get started!
Ways To Make Friends While Traveling Alone
As I stated earlier, traveling alone does not have to be a lonely experience. Wherever you go, there are numerous ways to make friends on the transit, and some of those friendships may last longer than you realize. I’ve met new people on solo trips to Arctic Canada, Italy, South Africa, and other places over the last decade. Here’s how I did it and how you can too.
Tips for Making Friends While Traveling Alone
1. Be approachable
Okay, this may seem self-evident, but if your body language tells everyone to leave you alone, guess what? No one will approach you to strike up a conversation.
If you want to make new friends, keep the following in mind:
- Limit your use of electronics. Most people will avoid you if your head is buried in your phone or computer, or if you have earbuds in.
- Avoid using closed body language. Crossed arms, crossed legs, and angle yourself away from the other person are all signs to others that you want to be alone. I’m guilty of many of these unconsciously, so I have to make an effort to be aware of them.
- Always remember to smile. According to research, people perceive neutral facial expressions as slightly negative, so don’t be greedy with your grins.
- Keep your head up. If you keep your head down, you’re missing out on more than just the scenery. People usually need some eye contact and a clear view of the other person’s face before they feel comfortable enough to strike up a conversation.
- Avoid slouching. Slouching gives the impression to others that you are bored or uninterested, which turns off potential new friends.
2. Learn the language – Ways To Make Friends
If you want to truly immerse yourself in the culture and make friends with the locals, even a basic understanding of the language can be extremely beneficial. For a long time, I was too embarrassed to try speaking other languages because I was aware of how bad my accent was. I should not have been concerned!
People definitely appreciate your effort, even if your skills are limited. Even if I suspect the person speaks English, I try to help them in their native language first. It’s time to fire up the Duolingo app and brush up on your language skills!
3. Allow for spontaneity
This is an excellent travel tip, whether you’re looking for new friends or traveling in a group.
If you plan every minute of every day of your trip, you will not only stress yourself out and be tired the entire time, but you will also miss out on opportunities.
If you meet someone interesting at your hostel or on a bus and they invite you to do something with them, but you’ve already planned and paid for the rest of the day, you’re likely to decline and miss out on that social opportunity.
I usually go on vacation with only a general idea of what I want to do. I prepay and plan for activities that may fill quickly or are on my bucket list, but I leave as much room for spontaneity as possible.
4. Join online travel groups
I’ve discovered several really great solo travel groups on Facebook, where people share advice and can find and arrange to meet up with others who are local to or traveling in the same area as them.
You should find and join communities that are specific to your interests, but some that I personally enjoy are Nomads (primarily for digital nomads), Girls Love Travel and GoWonder’s Solo Female Travel Group.
5. Use travel apps – Best Ways To Make Friends
There are numerous apps and social platforms available that aim to improve every aspect of your solo travel experience, but here are a few that will help you make friends while traveling alone.
- SoloTraveller: SoloTraveller is a social network that connects you with other solo travelers and backpackers in your area. You can make new friends, find people to rideshare with, and even start your own traveler community while receiving updates from your new friends.
- Showaround: Showaround connects visitors with locals willing to show them around their hometowns. You can look for a good host match based on your interests and needs, making it simple to connect with people who share your interests. Some Showaround hosts charge for their services, but there are many more who are willing to share their knowledge and culture for free.
- Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is an app that connects locals with backpackers and travelers in need of a free place to stay.
- Flip the Trip: Flip the Trip is similar to SoloTraveller in that it allows you to search for people nearby, but it also allows you to search for a travel buddy for future trips.
- PartyWith: PartyWith is a nightlife app that connects users to other travelers and locals looking to party, whether it’s going out for drinks with someone new or finding nearby house parties.
- TripGiraffe: TripGiraffe makes it simple to connect with other travelers from all over the world who share a love of travel. You can create your own trip and invite other travelers to join you, or you can search through thousands of existing trips and join the one that appeals to you the most. Finding a travel companion for a trip has never been easier with TripGiraffe!
- Tourlina: This is a solo female travel app for women who are traveling alone and want to connect with other women in a safe and easy way. Tourlina requires users to go through a verification process before they can start chatting with others, giving you some peace of mind about who you’re meeting up with. Users can browse other women and decide whether or not to connect with them based on their interests, language, age, and so on. It’s essentially Tinder for female travel companions.
6. Stay In a Hostel – Ways To Make Friends
If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel, you know that it’s a place where strangers meet and become friends. Some hostels organize communal meals as well as activities such as walking tours and pub crawls to help guests meet one another. Several provide private rooms for travelers seeking companionship and privacy.
While traveling alone, staying in a hostel is your best bet for meeting new people.
Here are some ideas for meeting people at hostels:
- Mingle in the common areas. Most people in hostels are also traveling alone and looking to make new friends, but if you stay in your room all day, you’ll only meet your temporary roommates.
- Participate in hostel activities. Most hostels provide social activities or small group tours. All you have to do is show up and be approachable, and I guarantee you’ll be talking to someone soon!
- Show up for breakfast. Breakfast was my favorite part of the day for making friends when I did a work exchange through ustravelhubs at a hostel in New Orleans.
First and foremost, there were free pancakes, and who could argue with that? Many hostels will provide some sort of breakfast, even if it’s just free coffee and fruit. In the morning, spend some time in the kitchen or dining area and ask the other guests about their plans for the day over breakfast.
It’s really that simple. It’s a great conversation starter because most people are excited about their plans and eager to discuss them. If you see them later that day, make a point of asking how their day went. These small connections frequently lead to invitations to hang out or deeper conversations, which is the basic formula for any new friendship.
7. Volunteer or do a work exchange – Ways To Make Friends
Volunteer and work exchange opportunities with organizations such as Worldpackers can be an excellent way to meet new people while traveling alone! I’ve kept in touch with many of the people I met while volunteering, both locals and other travelers.
With Worldpackers, you’ll spend a lot of time with your fellow work exchangers and hosts, living and working together, making it easy for even the most introverted travelers to meet new people.
8. Strike up conversations during transit
While flying, I’ve met some of the most fascinating people! I once shared a row with Elvis the Boston Terrier, an emotional support dog, and his owner on a flight from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. During the flight, I became friends with Elvis and his mother, and his mother and I exchanged contact information. When I moved to New Orleans about a year later, I was able to reconnect with them.
People fly for a variety of reasons, so you never know who you might end up sitting next to. You may not always have an adorable conversation starter like Elvis, but you do have two stops in common, so there’s a built-in opportunity for conversation. It’s as simple as asking, “Business or pleasure?” It may sound corny, but it works!
The same logic applies to meeting people on buses, trains, and other public transportation.
9. Go On a Walking Tour – Ways To Make Friends
Walking tours are possibly my favorite way to meet new people while traveling alone. These tours can help you bridge the gap if you’re not comfortable striking up conversations with strangers.
Most organized walking tours begin by asking travelers where they are from, a question that may reveal similarities between you and your fellow walkers. Tours frequently include coffee breaks that allow you to socialize with the people you’ve become acquainted with.
Every free walking tour I’ve led has attracted a number of solo visitors, and after several hours of walking together, it’s difficult not to feel at least some connection to the group. On one of my last pre-pandemic walking tours in Budapest, I invited another solo traveler to dinner with my sister, who had flown out to meet me. He turned out to be my next-door neighbor, and he lived just a borough over in New York.
10. Go on group tours – Ways To Make Friends
Now, I’m not a fan of total package vacations, where you travel with a tour group the entire time. When I first arrive in a new city, however, I enjoy taking walking tours.
It’s a great way to quickly see the highlights of a city and decide where you’d like to spend more time. It’s also a fantastic way to meet other travelers. “Where are you from?” or “What have you done since you arrived?” is an easy way to start a conversation.
11. Visit local hangouts
If you want to meet locals while traveling, inquire about your favorite local hangouts. In larger cities, you may have to leave your current neighborhood to find them, but this will only enhance your experience.
Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone once you’ve arrived! Chatting with people who live in the area you’re visiting is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and get insider information!
12. Use co-working spaces – Ways To Make Friends
If you’re a digital wayfarer, co-working spaces can be a great place to meet new people while on the road! Even if you’re not in the same field, you’ll find that you have a lot in common with the majority of the people you meet.
You can expand your professional network and make new friends while traveling. It’s truly a win-win situation.
While traveling, there are numerous opportunities to make connections. I hope you’ll use these tips to make some awesome new friends on your next solo trip!
Please remember to always use your best safety practices when traveling alone (or in a group). Should you stay away from strangers at all costs? Certainly not! Unfortunately, bad intentions exist all over the world, so keep these simple safety tips in mind at all times:
- Pay attention to your instincts. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Avoid going to secluded areas alone with someone you’ve just met.
- Always read and consider the host’s reviews first when using apps like Couchsurfing.
- Never become lax in protecting your valuables from theft.
Don’t forget to drop your comment about ways to make friends while traveling in the comment box below.
Happy and safe travels, to you all!