Traveling alone is an extremely rewarding experience. You get to explore the world, and yourself, deeply. You can exist on your own terms, and to your own clock. You can make plans, and break plans, based on your own whims and desires. Lone traveling is very liberating, and it provides a feeling of enormous freedom.
Another great thing about traveling alone is that you have nobody to depend on. You have no familiar friend-group to blend in with, so you have to take the initiative, be social and meet people. In order to meet new friends, you need to take action, reach out and make contact.
If you make the effort, lone traveling will allow you to meet all sorts of fascinating and exotic new people. Exploring different countries and cities on your lonesome is pretty much the best way to meet people you would never otherwise meet. By stepping out and making the effort to make new friends, you will earn (at the very least) some cool stories, but possibly much, much more. Plus, many people have met new best friends, and even their future spouse, while traveling alone!
To make the most of your opportunities for socializing while solo traveling, you will need to be strategic and deliberate. This is no time to be a shrinking violet! Here is our BUCKiTDREAM list of five ways to meet friends while traveling alone.
Surf a Couch Couchsurfing is a wonderful way to travel cheaply and meet cool new people. It is free (although it is certainly good etiquette to treat your kind host to a meal or two), and it means you are instantly in the company of at least one local person when you arrive at a new destination. Most couch surfing hosts are social people who are keen to meet new friends and to show them around the city they call ‘”home”.
People who habitually use couchsurfing.org often have large webs of Couchsurfing friends and contacts extending all over the globe. Couchsurfing is the perfect way to meet locals with insider knowledge of the place you have traveled to.
Take a Walking Tour Most major cities have at least one, and usually many, different walking tour options. Some cost a small amount of money and many are ostensibly free (but you pay the guide what you feel it was worth at the end). Often, the guide will be a proud local who is enthusiastic about the city, easy to bond with and maybe even keen to grab a beer after the tour.
The other people taking the tour will be intrepid travelers like yourself, and your close proximity to them, as well as the wealth of fascinating new sights, sounds and smells you are witnessing together, will make striking up a conversation very easy. Many fellow walking tour-takers will be solo travelers and surely willing to become friends!
Go to Some Meetup Groups Meetup.com is a very valuable social media website. It advertises ‘meetups’ in most major cities, towns, and settlements in the world. These meetups are dedicated to a huge array of topics and activities, including salsa dancing, psychology lectures, cooking classes, wilderness hikes, beer tasting afternoons and Frisbee sessions.
As you can imagine, most pastimes have a meetup dedicated to them somewhere in the world. Obviously, the bigger the city – the more variety of meetups will be available. Signing up for a few fun meetups at your destination is a very good way to meet new friends with similar interests.
Hang Out in a Hostel’s Common Area Social, open-minded people who are looking to meet new friends tend to be more common in hostel common areas than in pretty much any other area in the world. Plus, there is usually a bar selling cheap beer! This incendiary mix means that an explosion of friendship is almost inevitable.
Making friends in a hostel common area is easy. It’s simply a case of going first and saying “hi” – everybody there is open to connecting, so your chances of getting rebuffed are nil. Many hostels also have organized evening events such as guided bar crawls, and these are of course also wonderful, beer-fueled, sources of a new friendship!
Get Active at a Sports Class If you’re an active person (and even if you aren’t), signing up for a sports class in your travel destination is a great way to meet some new (probably local) friends. If you are a keen practitioner of hot yoga, Brazilian jiu-jitsu or any other sport or activity, then attending a class in any part of the world, no matter how exotic, will give you the chance to meet new friends with at least one major passion in common.
So, that was our BUCKiTDREAM list of five ways to meet new friends while traveling alone. Give one or two a try. If one doesn’t bear fruit, then another surely will! Once you meet a few friends, you all can travel together and try the Best Cycling Trips in the World or 8 of the Most Jaw-Dropping Sports Activities in the World.