Out of many challenges that lie ahead of solo traveling, making friends seems to be one of them. Because seriously, who do you talk to if you’re alone all the time? You go sightseeing alone, you eat alone – you do everything alone! And then the next thing you know, you either start talking to yourself or, worse, create an imaginary friend to have at least somebody to share your travel stories with… But guess what: since I started traveling solo, I’ve never been more social! How do I do that? Here are few of my tips…
How to make friends while traveling solo
1. Sharing is caring
First things first – you’ve got to work on your social skills and learn how to appear more open. It may not be that easy if you’re a shy introvert, true, but here are the three simple tricks – practice, practice and – oh, did I forget? – practice! Start from asking a question – people love telling their own stories. Or telling a joke – people love to laugh. Or making an observation about the local people & culture – people love to hear insights. In fact, people in general love sharing stories, knowledge and experiences, so choose a conversation subject that would allow people share some of that with you – and share back, of course.
2. Take an interest in people
There’s one thing you should know – people love talking about themselves. So after you’re done sharing your last travel experience with somebody, don’t forget to ask “And what about you?”
3. Opt for a hostel and create opportunities
Now, I’m not a huge fan of hostels, to be honest, but I must admit that they are an excellent way of making friends. Of course it depends on how lucky you are – sometimes your roommates are just not your type of people and you shouldn’t force any kind of friendship with them. But if you somehow ‘click’ with your roommates and find that it’s easy to talk to each other, then don’t lose an opportunity to acquire a travel buddy! If you’re going on a city tour, making a day trip, going to have a drink, et cetera, et cetera – just say, hey, by the way, I’m going here and there, it’s supposed to be great. Wanna go together? Most of the times the answer will be positive because, just like you, your hostel roommates travel to explore something new. So when you give them an exciting opportunity, they’re most likely to take it. It’s a traveler’s nature.
4. Go on tours!
City tours or toured day trips are the easiest way to meet new people – you don’t even have to try hard, really. A big drawback here is that tours are sometimes costly, but a big plus is that there’s usually lots of free city tours, too. So finding travel companions has actually never been cheaper – I highly recommend checking out New Europe Tours, for example. On tours, I’ve met lots of super nice people and we not only had lots of fun together but also had meaningful discussions about life, future, career, depression, relationships – you name it. I was even once offered a job on a tour. So you never know, really, who you can invite in your life while traveling if you only open the door.
5. Try out couchsurfing
You can either surf yourself or meet up with people though couchsurfing – I did both and will keep doing both. Do some proper research, though – read users’ profiles and see if you have something in common with them otherwise you’ll be super disappointed. Usually couch-hosts genuinely like to hang out with their guests and explore the city together – as I was told once, with every guest they learn something new about their own city. But if you’re not up for staying at total stranger’s house, then you can meet up for a coffee or a museum or whatnot. Local tips guaranteed in any way.
6. Freunden von Freunden
Do your friends have friends in other countries? Then that’s a great opportunity to a) expand your network b) get to know your friends better. After all, not for nothing do they say that you are who your friends are. Plus, since there’s already a person connecting you two, it’s not going to feel like you’re meeting a stranger.
7. Are you online?
Nowadays, living an online life is as important as living it offline. Social media is the fastest (and the best) way of communication these days, so staying in touch with people has never been easier. On top of that, there are millions of different groups (e.g. on Facebook or MeetUp) where people are eager to socialize. So don’t wait – join the online community of travelers and I promise you won’t feel alone next time you’re traveling solo.