How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo
Because traveling alone doesn't have to be lonely.
One of the most common questions I get asked about traveling solo is, “Don’t you get lonely?”
But the truthis that traveling solo doesn’t have to be lonely! It is so easy to make friends when you’re traveling abroad. Here are just a few ways that I have made friends during my past solo trips.
This is, by far, the fastest and easiest way to make friends when traveling solo. Hostels are great places for socializing. Most people either stay in hostels because they're solo travelers on a budget or because they're drawn to the social aspect. Either way, people here are usually open to making new friends.
When you arrive, say hi to your dorm mates! When I first moved to Madrid, I stayed in a hostel for a week while I searched for a permanent apartment. One day, I asked one of my dorm mates if she’d like to get tapas with me. It turned out, she had just moved to Madrid too! We quickly bonded, and she ended up being one of my closest friends in Spain. We never would have met if I hadn't introduced myself at the hostel.
You don’t need to even stay in the dorms to make hostel friends. Another option book a private room and hang out in the common areas! The hostel kitchen is another great place to find other travelers to befriend. One time while traveling in Venice, I met someone in the hostel bar who had nearly the same itinerary as me. Suddenly, I had a travel buddy for the day.
Be on the lookout for hostels that offer group activities, whether that be in-house parties, pub crawls, city tours, surfing lessons, etc,. They host these events so guests can socialize and meet other travelers. Take advantage of this while you are there.
I always schedule a free walking tour on the first day of any solo trip.
The first reason is that free walking tours are a fantastic way to get a general overview of the city. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the local history, and they usually have fantastic tips about how to navigate the city, what tourist sites are actually worth visiting, and where the best restaurants are.
The second reason I do this is that walking tours are a great way to meet people! Everyone there is also a tourist, and usually very friendly! I always look for fellow solo women travelers and try to make friends with them. There have been countless times when I’ll make a friend during a walking tour, and we’ll end up exploring together for hours after it finished. I’ve met many wonderful people from across the globe this way, and I still keep in touch with some of them.
Airbnb experiences are different activities that are hosted by locals. They can be anything, from hikes, to food tours, to sailing excursions.
There are different Airbnb experiences everywhere you go, and my favorite type of experience are the cooking classes. You can learn a lot about a culture through its food, and cooking classes are such a special way to connect with your destination.
When I was in Italy, I signed up for a wine-tasting and cooking class at a farm just outside of Florence. Not only did I learn how to make ravioli from scratch, but the people in my group were such kind and fun people. Everyone had fascinating stories about their life and how they ended up in Italy. The cooking class was originally supposed to be a few hours, but the hosts kept offering us more and more food, and we were in no rush to leave! It ended up being an entire day of cooking, eating, learning about Italian culture, and socializing. It was the highlight of my trip, and I will return every time I'm in Tuscany.
My last tip is to check out different Facebook groups. There are hundreds of them dedicated to nearly every destination. Some are general, like “Expat Events in London” or more niche, like “Black Travel Bloggers in Lisbon”. There’s always something out there for everyone.
My personal favorite is “Gone Girl International” groups. They are several dedicated to women travelers looking to make friends while they’re traveling, and there's one for most major cities. Facebook groups can be a great way to meet people or learn about local events. The odds are good that there are a lot of other people just like you, wanting to make friends while they’re abroad.
The most difficult part of making friends while traveling solo is just putting yourself out there. I struggle with working up the courage to strike up a conversation with strangers. What if they don’t want to talk? What if we don’t speak the same languages? What if they don’t like me?
But these fears are almost always just that. Fears. I was surprised by how easy it was to make friends. Just a simple “Hi, where are you from?” and boom! You’ve got a friend for the day.
Most people you will meet are kind, down to earth, and eager to have someone to chat with too. Who knows? You may just make a new friend for life.