Traveling alone is one of my favorite ways to see the world, but sometimes it can seem overwhelming or even scary – especially your first time striking out solo. Some common solo travel fears include safety, cost, and maybe most of all – LONELINESS!
But have no fear, the Making Friends While Traveling Solo guide is here!
How to Meet People While Traveling Solo
Take a class
A great way to learn about the culture and country you are visiting while also linking up with other travelers, taking a class is my favorite way to meet people. Taking a class effortlessly introduces you to people who have similar interests as you, or at least the courage and motivation to try something new.
Whether you’re checking out a local cooking course, fabric works like weaving or dyeing, physical activities like yoga or martial arts, or even a language class – you’ll expand your skills and your social circle at the same time. If you try a sports class (like yoga, Pilates, jiu-jitsu, Muay thai and more), you’ll also likely meet locals.
Unsure where to find classes? Your hotel or hostel should be able to hook you up, otherwise Backstreet Academy is a great place to start if you’re in Asia.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu-based self defense class for women in Rio de Janeiro
Use an app
A newcomer to the travel scene, Outbound is one of my favorite new travel apps.
In the past, I’d also used Tinder to meet travelers and locals, but I’ve heard it’s turning more into a skeezy hookup app than a legit way to meet new people.
Outbound profile screen
Sign up for a group day tour
Any size town that attracts any number of tourists will have organized day tours. A group day tour is a great way to travel independently, while still learning from expert guides and gaining a deeper understanding of the location you’re visiting, in a social environment.
You could try Context Travel (who led the Favela Tour I tried), which has locations all around the world, and the tours are designed to be intellectual and interesting.
view from the Group Tour of the Complexo do Alemao Favela offered by Context
Hang out in public spaces
When you’re solo, make sure to take advantage of public space and common areas. Hang out in parks, the mall, or at the beach, as much as possible, and don’t retreat into your room. Whether you’re reading a book, browsing Facebook, listening to music, or just surfing the web – do it out in the open.
Use the lobby or lounge of your hostel or hotel as your homebase, and take your “quiet time” in public rather than in your room. Maybe you’ll meet someone passing by, checking in (if chilling in the hotel lobby), or doing the same as you – trying to meet other travelers.
chilling at the beach, meeting new dog and people friends alllll day
Don’t take your food to go or as “takeaway” to bring back to your room – stay in the restaurant to eat.
The first time might be hard or uncomfortable to eat alone in a restaurant, but it’s worth it! You’ll be able to enjoy your food and experience it without distractions.
By hanging out in the restaurant, you open yourself up to the opportunity to meet other solo travelers, groups, or locals.
If it is too daunting for you, try eating at a bar. You won’t stick out as being solo, and you can chat up the bartender.
Perusing the menu and planning to eat in
Maybe it’s obvious, maybe it’s not, but don’t be afraid to just say “Hi!”
Introduce yourself, where you’re from, and where you’re going. Everyone has a story to share – including you.
Smile, be positive, and enjoy yourself. I’m way more likely to approach someone who looks friendly and open, and talks to others nicely (including hostel staff), than any grumpy or unpleasant person.
Check out forums
Open facebook groups for locations and travelers and Couchsurfing or Outbound forums are great places to get introduced to other travelers and locals. Look for any events, and even posts about meeting people. I actually met one of my best friends in Bangkok, Natasha, from her post on Facebook seeking to make friends with other foreign girls.
I met some of these friends through Facebook forums!
Take advantage of social media
Search for hashtags and location tags matching your current or future destination. Check out who is posting there, and comment on their Instagram photos to arrange a meet up or ask advice.
I should have location-tagged this photo in Copacabana to meet other travelers nearby
Always take public transportation
Taking the skytrain, metro, bus, or van is an awesome opportunity to meet other travelers and locals while having a more local, authentic experience.
Using private transportation like a taxi isolates you from the city and from people, not to mention it is more expensive and boring.
checking out a good book on the public ferry to Koh Phi Phi
Stay in a hostel or homestay
A dorm instantly exposes you to other travelers without you needing to put in any effort. Many dorms organize activities and bar crawls, an easy and low-pressure way to meet other people, and great for introverts who may be a bit nervous or unsure.
If a hostel isn’t your thing, you could also try a homestay, especially through an organization like GoCambio, which connects you with hosts looking to learn from you in exchange for your room and board.
We all stayed at the same hostel in Siem Reap
What are your best tips for meeting people when traveling solo?
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