It’s no secret that traveling solo can be exhilarating, confidence-building, and downright fun–but that doesn’t mean you won’t also want to pick up some friends along the way.
Reaching out to complete strangers can be intimidating, trust me–I know. But remember: there are other solo travelers out there who want to find a friend just as much as you do.
And even though there aren’t exact formulas that will result in travel buddies, here are some traveling solo habits I’ve formed that have ended up in friendships more often than not!
Go to the touristy places
Yeah yeah yeah, the crowd-hating hipster inside of you is screaming for you to skip that cathedral that everyone goes to, but guess what? Everyone goes to it. Odds are there’ll be another person traveling solo like yourself there to talk to! Offer to help them with that selfie they’re obviously struggling with and let the conversation flow from there!
I boarded the train to Machu Picchu alone, for example. But after striking up a conversation with another solo traveler on board, I ended up with a hiking buddy to trek through the Peruvian jungle with! Easy as pie! (The conversation, not the hike.)
Take advantage of hostel life…even if you’re not staying in one
I know, I know: a hostel sounds fun, but you’re far too comfortable in your homestay with its private bathroom and homemade breakfasts to think about leaving. But good news! You don’t actually have to be staying at a hostel to meet people there. A lot of hostels have bars/restaurants, and they’re happy to take your money as you get to know a fellow traveler over a giant plate of shared nachos.
Hostels often also have built-in programming, like game nights or walking tours, which give you more excuses to bump elbows with fellow travelers.
I was intimidated to sit down at a table full of strangers at a hostel in Copenhagen. But then someone brought out a deck of cards and we were all friends by the end of the night! I found out it’s difficult to be in that environment and not meet people!
Every time I arrive at a new place on this whirlwind trip, I have to fight the urge to hide in my room with Netflix and the local version of a chocolate bar–it’s comfortable, after all. But there aren’t people in there! So if you’re feeling the urge to hide away, do the opposite. Go for a walk! Sit in a park and read, or maybe sign up for a dance class.
If you want to get technical, the Flypside app not only shows you who’s in the same place at the same time you are, but also what events are going on while you’re there. So pick one and go do it!
And it doesn’t have to be anything extreme or expensive! I met one of my dearest travel buddies in Sydney when we both spotted the same pair of Doc Martins whilst shopping at a thrift store. It’s the little things!
New friend, Meredith, and I traveling New Zealand together.
When you travel solo, there’s no reason you have to spend all your time alone. So look around for fellow travelers, programming, and opportunities to be active, and you’ll be on your way to making friends for the road and friends for life.