Traveling solo is such a freeing experience! You can go anywhere you want, whenever you want and do whatever you want without having to check in with anyone or consider anyone else’s preferences. Making travel plans for one certainly has its perks, but it can also be lonely traveling as a team of one, especially when it’s your first time visiting a new place. Meeting people and making new friends is essential to avoid feeling lonely on your trip. These are some creative ways you can find and make genuine friends while traveling solo.
Keep reading to discover how you can make friends while traveling solo...
Cruise to your destination
On a cruise, you’re guaranteed to be in the presence of plenty of people. There are often all sorts of activities going on with the opportunity to meet and mingle with other travelers and the super social crew staff. The ship is a close-quartered environment where everyone onboard eats, sleeps, and essentially lives together for a given amount of time while traveling to a destination. It’s the perfect environment for traveling alone while still having the opportunity to bond and connect with others.
On a cruise, you can travel alone while still having people around you. I went on this cruise to Jamaica with my family and we met and mingled with lots of other people.
Another great way to meet other people while solo traveling is to stay in a hostel or shared Airbnb. Hostels make it easy to meet people because they’re centered around the concept of sharing and cultivating community. They offer a variety of shared room options that range from sharing a room with two or three people to up to as many as forty! Living with a stranger surely is a way to get to know someone fast, but if you’re not fond of sharing such a close space with people you just met, you’ll be glad to know that most hostels usually have an option for private individual rooms as well. When staying at a hostel you can expect to find a variety of social activities, like happy hours and game nights. There are also shared spaces, like a kitchen or common area where you can casually interact with other guests during your stay.
Shared Airbnbs are centered around the same idea of community but on a more personal scale. These Airbnbs have live-in hosts, meaning you’ll be staying in close proximity to someone who’s local. These types of Airbnbs tend to offer a more “at home” experience since the host’s living accommodations are too. Staying with someone that knows the area means you’ll have direct access to someone who can give you useful tips during your trip. It also provides the comfort of having someone else around while traveling alone and you get a unique, one-of-a-kind experience during your stay, that may even result in a wonderful travel story friendship.
Join an organized travel group
If the idea of doing activities and exploring alone makes you nervous, you might want to consider taking a trip with an organized travel group. Travel groups make it easier to travel and meet new people. These organizations coordinate the entire trip and offer a convenient package deal with everything from activities and accommodations, to sometimes even food and transportation included. You just pay the deposit and show up ready to go on vacation and travel with new people. A great example of a program that does this is RemoteYear, an organization that helps individuals balance work and travel through organized trips all around the world, that last from a few days to all year long! Teaming up a travel group puts you in an ideal position to meet other people and share a unique experience with a group of strangers, who hopefully by the end of your trip, will have become unforgettable travel buddies.
Group photo from my trip to Cartagena, Colombia with the Passports Tatted travel group.
Make virtual friends
Not all friendships happen overnight. If you like to form friendships over time, try making connections in the virtual world first, before leaving on your trip. Using social media apps like Facebook and the Xpat app, where you can find other people who travel to the same destination and around the same time as you. Language exchange apps, like HelloTalk, are another great option for virtually meeting locals and practicing the language.
Do things you can share with others
Instead of booking tours privately, look for things to do that are open to other groups of people. Joining an open group tour or excursion activity is one way to be around people on your solo journey. You could also sign up for a class to learn something new while meeting other tourists visiting the area. Airbnb, Trip Advisor, Viator, and Get Your Guide are resourceful platforms you can use to find these sorts of activities.
The opportunity to make new friends can happen anytime while travelings solo, even when you least expect it. Be conscious of how present you are in casual settings (i.e. in transit, grocery stores, restaurants, etc). Being present automatically makes you more approachable. You could stand in line next to someone for hours and never exchange a word with them because they are on their phone or have their headphones in listening to music. Or you could strike up a conversation with them from the sheer fact that you’re both present (and bored in the line). Casual interactions like these are a great way to connect with someone new and you just never know what kinds of interesting people you’ll come across.
Make connections using dating and social travel apps
Believe it or not, Tinder is useful for something other than hooking up and it can actually be a handy resource when it comes to meeting other solo travelers. While you’ll need to be intentional and very specific with what you put in your profile, Tinder and other dating apps can help you find and match with other like-minded people. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll still need to swipe through a fair share of toads, BUT eventually, you may connect with someone you can call your new travel buddy.
Spend time in social spaces
If you really want to find people when you’re solo traveling, visit places with a social atmosphere. Use Instagram to find events like language exchanges, or festivals and concerts that are happening around the same time as your trip. Search Google maps and blog articles to get a better idea of the social scene in the area. Also, don’t forget about the more common types of social places like parks, coworking spaces, coffee shops, bars, and clubs. All of the above are ideal places to be to meet and make new friends.
A random group of strangers turned festival friends at the AfroNation 2022 in Faro, Portugal.
Keep your itinerary flexible
Don’t overbook your itinerary with so much that you don’t have time to meet people. Keep your trip plans flexible so you can be open to anything that comes your way, including new travel friends. Of course, you should prioritize experiencing a destination to the fullest and it’s much easier to make sure this happens when you plan ahead of time. But it’s also important to have balance so you can enjoy your solo trip while still being open to spontaneity. Plan a list of all the activities you want to do, but be flexible with when you plan to do them, and reserve some vacation days as backup options in case you want to alter your itinerary.
Make planning your next solo trip easy with a visit to The Wander Box! Inside you’ll find flexible travel guides that are curated to match your individual travel style. Along with a trip itinerary that’s specific to your destination and preferences, the travel guides also provide helpful tips for the destination, a Google maps list with must-see locations, and solo activity ideas to help push yourself out of your comfort zone and get the most out of your solo travel adventure.