Top 10: How to Meet People While Traveling Solo

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

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.

How to Meet People While Traveling Solo Self Defense Class in Rio de Janeiro

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 - An app for meeting people while traveling and an app to find people near you

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.

Complexo do Alemao Favela Tour Rio

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.

Brazilian Canga

chilling at the beach, meeting new dog and people friends alllll day

Eat in

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.

Mexican Restaurant Koh Phi Phi Selfie

Perusing the menu and planning to eat in

Be friendly

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.

Monkey Stare

Cheesin’

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.

Bangkok dinner party

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.

Instagram Photo QLE

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.

Taking the ferry is slower and cheaper than the flight - and also atmospheric and great for reading!

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.

The Brits and I at Angkor Wat Siem Reap Cambodia

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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Steph

A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. 6 years later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Puebla, Steph is on to her next adventure and living in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She is traveling and living around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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4 Comments

  1. October 27, 2015 / 8:36 pm

    Staying in hostels and going on group tours is always a sure-fire way to meet people, especially when you show interest in others around you. Having a few beers here and there doesn’t hurt either. Cheers for the cool post.

    • October 28, 2015 / 10:51 am

      Thanks so much! I usually opt for wine over beer (unless it’s Southeast Asian or Mexican beer, weirdly the only ones I like) but I agree completely! A bit of social lubrication/liquid courage tends to help get over the shyness barrier – as long as it isn’t too many.

  2. Ian
    January 25, 2016 / 5:07 pm

    I am more interested in meeting locals not other tourists. Sit in public squares. Smile, speak some of the local language.

    • January 25, 2016 / 5:19 pm

      This set of advice is definitely geared more towards meeting other travelers. Especially when traveling to multiple countries, and those with difficult languages, meeting other tourists can be a welcome reprieve from loneliness. I definitely don’t speak enough Thai, Khmer, Burmese, Bahasa Malay or Arabic to do anything more than count, so being able to have a conversation in English is enjoyable for me. It’s also nice to be able to commiserate or celebrate with someone traveling a similar route.

      “How to Meet Locals” should be another article 🙂

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