My friends always ask how I travel by myself. I’d love to take a trip with them, but coordinating vacation time with others can be challenging.
There have been times when I found a cheap plane ticket and I was ready to book it, but a friend would still need to find out if they’re able to take time off. By the time they find out their boss didn’t approve their vacation request or changed their mind about going, the price has gone up.
Has this happened to you?
It’s happened to me twice.
So what I do now is book my plane ticket. I tell whomever is interested in going to meet at the destination. I give them my itinerary so they can book a flight if they decide to go. This has worked out much better.
If you ever find yourself wanting go somewhere, but don’t have anyone to go with. It’s okay. Traveling alone is perfectly normal. There are many people on the road by themselves. It makes it easier to meet other solo travelers who want to do the same things as you.
Here are seven ways to meet travelers.
1. Stay at a hostel
Meet more people traveling solo by staying at a hostel versus a hotel. The best places to connect with fellow travelers are in the kitchen or dining areas. Preparing a meal and dining can be a communal experience when offering or sharing food. In the evenings, there’s usually a group of people having drinks. This would also be a perfect time to mingle with your hostel mates and see if anyone is interested in doing the same things as you for the following day.
I’ve actually have met new friends at hostels abroad and visited them in their home countries. We’ve managed to stay in touch for several years on Facebook.
2. Join a tour group
Find a guided walking or bus tour around the city you’re visiting. Usually, you can learn about these tours at information kiosk in a busy tourist area. It’s a great way to explore without doing a lot of work. You’ll learn a few stories, interesting facts, and get local tips from a tour guide. You’ll meet other travelers in the group. One way to strike up conversation is to have someone else take your photo in front of the sites.
3. Meet people on the street
This technique usually works when you are in a country where no one speaks English. If you hear another person speaking English, just say “hi” and ask them how they are enjoying the city to start conversation. Develop rapport to see if you’d get along. You’ll have an instant connection because you both can speak English well.
When I went to the Czech Republic, I had just gotten off a train in Kutna Hora. I was trying figure out how to get from the train station to the bone church. I saw these two girls looking at a map and heard that they spoke English with an American accent. I approached them to ask them if they knew where to go and they did. After a few minutes of chatting with them, we all decided to explore the town together. We ended up hanging out all day.
4. See what Meetups are going on
Check Meetup.com to see if there are any expat or special interest groups hosting events in the city you visit. You can find people to connect with around the world based on common interests. If there’s an event happening during the time you’ll be visiting a city, reach out to the host to introduce yourself and express interest in attending. Its a great way to meet locals too.
When I went to Paris, I found an expat group on Meetup. I emailed the host to inquire if she was hosting any events while I was going to be in town. She wasn’t in France at the time, but she offered to let me be an organizer for an evening. My schedule didn’t allow for it, but the possibilities to connect with others would have been amazing. I’m doing this next time I travel.
5. Take a class
There are several opportunities to take classes and learn new skills while traveling.
If you have a passion for food, take a cooking class abroad. There are several instructors who teach in English on how to cook their local cuisine. Some classes combine a trip to the market so you can learn which ingredients to buy.
Do you like dancing? Take a dance class in the region of the style you’d like to learn. Many travel to Brasil to learn samba or Argentina for tango.
Check various guidebooks and forums for recommended schools on what you’d like to learn.
Regardless what your interests are, you can find a class to take while abroad and meet new friends. You’d be connecting with people who have common interests as you so it would be easy to build a connection with them.
Volunteering allows you to do meaningful work and help others. It’s easier to connect with people your working if you are aligned by similar values to a higher purpose. That could be helping others or contributing to an experience. Whether it’s feeding the homeless, teaching, or working at an event, shared experiences leads to bonding, building trust, and meeting new friends.
Last October I went to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque by myself. I decided to volunteer with a group of strangers last minute to help out a balloon pilot during the festival. It was a personally rewarding experience because I got to learn about the history of ballooning, how to inflate the balloon, and how to pack it up. What struck me was that I also saw hundreds of people smile and cheer as they watched the balloons lift off from the ground. Also, working with the team to make sure the pilot and crew landed safely brought us closer together. Although we had a small part, I felt that we contributed to the festival experience.
This year I’m excited to take a volunteer vacation on my first Habitat for Humanity build abroad.
7. Use Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals as well as travelers. Find out what local events or activities are going on in the forum. Connect with people online and in real life. You don’t necessarily have to stay at someone’s house to meet locals. Couchsurfers will post activities in the forum to see if others would like to join them.
When I was in Madrid, I checked the CS forum and saw that the local community was hosting a salsa pajama party at a club. I replied to the thread to let the group know that I would love to meet them. The organizer responded and welcomed me to join them later that evening.
I went to the nightclub by myself. I walked around and looked for a group of people who looked like they might be CouchSurfers and they were. I meet new friends to hangout with for the night. Meeting up with Couchsurfers creates an instant bond because you share the experience of being a member of the website and have a common interest in culture exchange. It’s a welcoming community.
That evening I met a surfer who visited me a year later in the U.S. It’s amazing the connections you can possibly meet traveling alone.
Read 10 Ways To Use Couchsurfing to get more ideas.
I’ve learned a few things that make meeting people while traveling solo easier.
1. Bring something to share. Food and drinks are always a plus. Cook a meal. Bring candy from your country. Have stories to tell and make someone laugh. Show pictures of your friends and family.
2. Have a positive attitude. Smile. A smile communicates openess to interacting with others.
There are many travelers you can meet on the road to share experiences with. While it won’t be the same if your friends may not be around, you’ll still be able to meet people to hang out with.
You might actually have a better time traveling solo. Sometimes hanging out with one person all the time can limit your experience.
Traveling alone is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’ll become more independent and step out of your comfort zone. Embrace it!
- Have you tried any of these methods? What worked? What didn’t?
- What tips would you recommend to others looking to meet people on the road?
Category: Travel tips