Gotta hit the road and don’t care who goes with you because you’re going no matter what? It’s all part of growing up, kid. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do—even if you’re the only one in your party. But travelling alone doesn’t have to be lonely. Or scary. In fact, creating your own adventures—with our solo travel tips—can be life changing and eye opening, even if it’s got its challenges.
When you don’t have a friend by your side to share the ups and downs, travelling is a different experience, but one you can definitely handle. All you need are a few smart tips to help you meet cool people when you’re visiting new places on your own.
Making Friends: Solo Travel Tips for Your Next Adventure
Bunk Up at a Hostel
Although hostels tend to get a bad reputation for their party atmosphere and rowdy young backpackers, “luxury” hostels or “poshtels” are on the rise. And they’re great. Catering to a slightly more mature traveller, these types of hostels generally offer hotel-like amenities and extensive social programs. For example, Hostel of the Sun in Naples, hosts a free dinner twice a week, with endless sangria transforming into the perfect setting for those looking to engage in meaningful conversation and create long lasting relationship with like-minded travellers.
In most cities, you’ll find lots of meet-up groups designed specifically for travellers or expats. Sites like Meet-Up.com, for instance, have proven track records connecting solo travellers with compatible counterparts. With a wide variety of events ranging in interests, from organized sports to coding and everything in between, you are guaranteed to find one that suits you—and other people like you.
Sit at the Bar
Eating alone in public can make some feel awkward and conspicuous. What to do? Opting for a secluded table might seem like the easier choice, but then you’ll miss out on a great opportunity to meet some interesting characters. If you opt for a seat at the bar, you’ll be in just the right position to strike up an amazing conversation almost every time.
Fun fact: On a trip to Hawaii, someone I met on Big Island offered to take me to a karaoke bar, while another was a professional sailboat racer who invited me to come sailing with him someday. (I still have his business card)
Search for Facebook Expat Groups
If you’re staying in a city for an extended time, a simple Facebook search for expat groups will help you locate a ton of options. In Berlin, for instance, there are groups such as: Canadians in Berlin, Girls Gone International (Berlin Chapter), and a handful of others. These groups regularly organize events, let you connect with others and serve as a wonderful fountain of information for newcomers with questions.
Hop on a Guided Tour
An afternoon walking tour or a food tour will connect you with others exploring the world on their own. Food tours especially tend to be more interactive and you’ll also get to meet locals in the process. For guided tours, consider smaller groups as many solo travellers opt for this route, especially if they’re new to travelling and eager to learn about a region.
Approach Other Solo Travellers
Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and make the first move. No doubt, this can be nerve-wracking especially if you’re not a naturally outgoing person. But unless the other person is giving off the kind of body language that makes you think they definitely do not want conversation, go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you’re the one who’s approached, make sure to be friendly and ask them plenty of questions about themselves. Find out what their remaining travel plans are, and hey, you might even have found a companion to explore with. Small interactions often lead to lifelong friendships.
Lean on a travel consultant
A travel consultant can be a wealth of information on the safest places to consider and which tours to take. They are aware of your whereabouts at all times, so you always have someone to call to get you home or to another city. And remember, travel consultants travel solo too (more often than not), so they know exactly what it’s like and have the best insider information. Make sure you find a consultant with the same travel style and interests as you. It’s important to building the right trip.
Candace is a world traveller with a big appetite for books and quality beer. Originally from Newfoundland, she has spent the last year living in Berlin, discovering all parts of Europe and is always on the hunt for her next trip.