Easy Ways To Make Friends While Traveling Solo

Most people don’t try solo travel because they fear being alone. They presume it’ll be difficult to meet people and make new friends. While this might happen, the reality (in my experience) is the opposite. In my travels I’ve met a large number of people under many different circumstances. Traveling solo actually opens you up to the possibility of making new friends. It forces you to become more social.

If you’re hesitant about traveling alone or are looking for ideas on how to meet people on your trips, below are some easy tips to make friends while traveling solo:

  • Hostels: I’ll start with the easiest and most popular way to meet people, hostels. They provide a safe environment to meet like minded travelers. They have a ready made community for you to mix and mingle with. Even if you’re shy, it’s very easy to start a conversation. In fact, being the old guy in the room (I’m over 40) has not gotten in the way of meeting people. All my experiences with hostels have been positive and I’ve always walked away with new friendships.
  • Meetup.com: This is my other favorite method of meeting people. Meetup.com is a God send for travelers in new cities. They offer a wide range of groups organized by interests and sometimes age groups. I’ve joined Yoga groups, language exchanges and business networking groups (among others). The people that attend these meetup are interested in meeting new people so it makes making friends a fairly easy task. It’s literally just a matter of deciding which meet up you want to attend.
  • Take Classes: Why not learn something new while you’re traveling.  Learn a new language in Europe, take a cooking class in Asia or try the dance of love in South America. You’ll get a new skill, it’s fun and a great way to open up your social circle.
  • Tours: Strange enough, I’ve found tours to be another nice way to meet other travelers. I usually go for the free walking tours or the bike tours of a city. Between the regular tourists I’ve frequently come across long term travelers with whom I’ve bonded and shared stories with.

  • Couch Surfing: I’ve only done couch surfing twice. Both times I’ve walked away with a better appreciation for the city’s culture and got to meet and make friends with locals. Couch surfing is an ingenious concept that grew organically from the traveler community. Most hosts are travelers themselves who enjoy meeting other travelers and like to share stories and experiences. The hardest thing with couch surfing is finding a host. As there are more surfers than people hosting.
  • Six Degrees Of Separation: You’d be surprised at how small this world is. Prior to going new country send out feelers to your friends through Facebook and see if they know anyone in the places that you’re visiting. If they do, connect with them on Facebook and chat. You make connections with people prior to arriving at your destination.
  • TravBuddy.com: This is a site that is designed to connect people looking for travel buddies. There are 500,000 users currently signed up and there’s a $10 lifetime access fee.
  • CoWorking space: If you happen to be a digital nomad (someone who works as they travel) then CoWorking space may be the place for you. Most major cities have office spaces targeted for entrepreneurs and freelancers with WIFI and all the required office amenities. This is an opportunity to get some work done and you might make friends with your neighbors.
  • Online Dating: Dating apps can be leveraged in two ways. If you happen to be lonely and need some company you can log on and find someone to go out with. But it could also be used for platonic purposes. If you mention in your profile that you’re only looking for friends (not a hookup) you may be surprised by the number of people you can meet this way. As always with these apps, use some common sense. When meeting someone for the first time always make sure it’s in a safe public place.

Trust me, solo travel is not as scary as you think. You’ll meet people in the most amazing and unexpected ways. You just need to keep yourself open to the possibility of meeting people. I’ll wrap it up with a story on how I made a good travel buddy by coincidence in a train station in Kyoto.

He came up to me and asked whether a train was going to a specific destination. I told him no, but I double checked with a attendant and it turned out he was right and I was wrong. He saved me from getting on the wrong train. We started talking and found that we had a lot of similarities in our stories and circumstances. So we decided to travel together through Cambodia and Thailand.

It’s all a state of mind. If you make an effort to meet new people, then you will. Don’t let this fear stop you from traveling alone. Pack your bags, give these recommendations a try and hopefully you’ll make some amazing new friends.