As a solo female traveler, I’m often asked if I get lonely when I travel alone. My short answer: No, not usually. However, I’m an introvert and the kind of person who enjoys solitude. I’d even say I need a good, daily dose of it in order to stay sane. It’s a big reason why I choose to travel solo in the first place.
I’m not a complete recluse, though. I do socialize and meet lots of people when I travel solo, I just do it on my terms.
To help others out there like me, I put together a list of the ways I’ve made friends while traveling solo. I also asked The Budget-Minded Traveler Community to pitch in their ideas.
The following is what we came up with.
First, You Have to Get Even Further Outside Your Comfort Zone
To meet people when you travel solo, you have to be willing to inch out of your comfort zone a little bit more than you already may have by traveling alone in the first place.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Be open-minded and give everyone you meet a chance. They may not look or act like your friends from back home, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have things in common.
- Don’t be afraid to show up to things alone. You won’t meet people if you’re not out where the people are. Have courage, and go anyway.
- Be approachable. People will be less likely to approach you if you have earbuds in or your face is hidden behind a book. Instead, act like you want to meet people, and you will.
All the Ways to Meet People As a Solo Traveler
Arm yourself with the courage to put yourself out there, and try a few of these ways to meet people and make friends as a solo traveler.
Choose Social Accommodations
The fastest way to form a friendship is to share space and daily life activities. Those who went to sleep away camp/summer camp when they were young know what I’m talking about. Doing everyday things with people, like sleeping in the same room or cooking together, can be a bonding experience.
So, instead of isolating yourself in hotel rooms or studio apartments, choose social accommodations like hostels, Airbnb (where the host will be there, too), and Couchsurfing. These are also incredible options for budget travelers!
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Hostels are designed for inclusivity and socializing and, more often than not, they are full of other solo travelers of all ages. So, start conversations with your roommates, invite people on excursions, and ask to sit at a table with another lone diner.
The locals you’ll meet through Airbnb and Couchsurfing are usually pretty excited to share their favorite hometown sites, restaurants, and activities with their guests. They might even take you out on a personalized tour!
Go Where There Are People to Meet
When you’re in a socializing mood, put yourself in places where you’re likely to meet people with similar interests. Like I mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to show up to things alone. Here are some ideas:
- Hang out in social places like coffee/tea shops or a hotel/hostel bar. Make sure to look up from your book/phone/laptop if you have one.
- Attend hostel events such as free dinners or pub crawls.
- Go on walking tours (some hostels offer them for free), bus tours, day trips, Airbnb experiences, etc.
- Take a language class or cooking class to meet people while you travel.
- Attend a meetup, conference or retreat. You already know that everyone there is interested in the topic of the event, so just introduce yourself!
- Eat meals at the bar instead of a table. Chat with the bartenders or the people around you.
- Join a group tour like Busabout, G Adventures, or Traveling Jackie’s trips.
Use Social Media to Meet People in Person
A couple of years ago, I went to New Zealand on a working holiday visa through BUNAC and the IEP Work New Zealand program. IEP has a closed Facebook group for members of the program to connect and announce job opportunities. Through this online group, I met a girl from Sweden who showed me around Dunedin when I arrived.
There are so many other Facebook groups like this! The Budget-Minded Traveler Community is a perfect example. I also like Wanderful Facebook groups (they have local chapters all over the globe) and Girls Love Travel for females. Everything Everywhere is a good group by Gary Arndt as well.
There are many backpacker groups specific to countries and regions that you can join to meet other travelers as well. Just do a Facebook search, you might be amazed at what you find.
Here are some more ideas:
- The dating app Bumble has a BFF feature you can use to meet people with similar interests just looking for friendship.
- Check the Couchsurfing app or website for local Couchsurfing meetups and events.
- Use the Meetup App to find local club meetups about whatever you’re into – running, photography, etc.
- Find community events, festivals, farmer’s markets, etc. using the Local App or FB Events.
More Ways to Meet People as a Solo Traveler
- Connect with friends of friends who live in the area where you’re traveling.
- Try long-term travel. Whether that means two weeks, a month, or a year, the longer you stay in one place, the easier it is to meet people and build friendships.
- Volunteer, do a work exchange or housesit to meet locals. This often involves free or cheap accommodations, which allows you to stay longer. Find opportunities through Work Away, Helpx, or WWOOF.
- Carry a deck of cards and invite people to play an easy-to-learn game. I like to play Golf or Garbage.
- Take public transportation like buses or trains and talk to the people around you.
Share your tips to meet people as a solo traveler in the comments!
By Brittany Quaglieri with help from The Budget-Minded Traveler Community