Traveling solo can be a thrilling adventure, allowing you to explore new places and gain independence. However, it can also be a lonely experience at times.
As a solo traveler, making friends on the road can be challenging, especially for introverts. As an introvert, I understand how difficult this can be. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 11 useful tips for making friends while traveling solo.
Disclosure: please note that some of the links below may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Download the Bumble BFF App
Dating apps can be a great way to meet new people. But if you’re not looking for love (or something similar), things can get a bit complicated. That’s why Bumble (the dating app) has introduced a version to specifically make friends.
Fortunately, this app is free of charge. I highly recommend using this app to make friends while traveling solo. Many people I know have made friends by using this app while traveling solo or after moving to a new city or country.
Sit in the common area of your hostel
You don’t have to go to a party hostel to make friends. I’ve actually never stayed in a diehard party hostel. Still, I made many friends during my solo travels. I found that one of the best ways to make friends was to sit in the common area. A lot of other (solo) travelers are often chilling in the common area.
A lot of the advices on how to make friends while traveling solo say that you should stay in a hostel. I definitely agree with this. I especially recommend finding hostels through Hostelworld. Here you can see a lot of reviews of hostels and you’ll be able to filter out what kind of hostel a certain place is (for example a party hostel or not).
Although I highly agree with this advice, I still find it important to emphasize that you should make good use of the common area in your hostel. If you stay in your room all day, you probably still won’t make any friends easily.
Start a conversation yourself
Don’t expect someone else to take the initiative. Chances are high that there are other travelers who would like to connect with you. Maybe they’re too afraid to start a conversation themselves. What’s the worst that could happen if you start a conversation? Perhaps rejection.
I’ve had times that I really didn’t want to start a conversation. I felt anxious but at the same time I knew it would be good to take initiative. This nearly always led to a positive reaction (and a new friend!).
Be genuinely interested
Notice small things about someone (but not in a creepy way). As a conversation starter, you could perhaps say something as simple as “I really like your earrings”. Do make sure that you’re actually being genuine. If you’re being authentic, chances are high that you’ll make a new friend any time soon.
Always be curious. For instance, I absolutely love Australia. When I hear an Australian accent, I immediately wonder where the person comes from. So I’ll ask the person if they’re from Australia and if so where they’re from in Australia.
This is actually exactly how I met one of my travel buddies in Cambodia. Be curious about the people around you. You’ll notice how much easier it will be to make a new friend.
Be a little vulnerable
I don’t mean this in a way to put yourself in a dangerous situation. Absolutely not. I do mean that you should try to be a bit more vulnerable. When you’re vulnerable, you give people the chance to relate to you. And it can also feel like a relief to slightly put your guard down. I’m really sure that I wouldn’t have made the connections that I made if I hadn’t been a little vulnerable.
For example, during a couple of my solo travels I had just gone through a breakup (after 4.5 years). As a result, I didn’t feel that great. But I was honest about this to the people that I met and I’m very grateful for the connections that I made because of it.
A common mistake I see when people are having a hard time making friends, is that they’re not really there. It’s good to stay in touch with friends from back home, but don’t spend nearly all your time on your phone talking to the home front. If you do, you will stay in your comfort zone and it will be a lot harder to make new friends.
It’s not bad to stay in your comfort zone, but if you’re on a solo adventure, I assume you wanted to get out of your comfort zone. Make sure to be present.
Join a free walking tour
Another great way to make friends while traveling solo is to join a free walking tour. Often, other solo travelers will join these walking tours as well. And at the same time you’ll get to explore the place you’re in! If you’re not interested in a walking tour, you could also join other kind of group tours to meet new people.
Take a class
Taking a class in something can also be a really good way to make a new friend. You could for instance join a cooking class or a yoga class. Often, you’ll have to interact with other people during a class, which makes it possible to meet new people in an authentic way.
You could choose to take a class in something which you’re a little passionate about. In this way, chances are high that you’ll already have one thing in common with the other people around you.
Learn the local language
If you’re in a country where you’re not a native speaker, which probably is the case, it will be a lot easier to interact with locals if you learn a few phrases in their language. For example, learn how to say ”hello”, ”how are you” and ”I’m from *insert your country*”.
Talking and hanging out with locals will also give you a more authentic travel experience. Besides, you will gain a whole new perspective of the country that you’re visiting. It’s always good to learn a new language!
Lastly, I think volunteering is another easy way to meet new people. At the same time, it’s a good way to meet like-minded people who value the same things as you do. You could for instance join a beach clean up or you could volunteer at an (ethical) animal sanctuary.
Choose to volunteer at a place which really means something for you and I’m sure you’ll definitely meet at least one new friend.
It can be difficult to know how to make friends while traveling solo. However, a great way to start is to download Bumble BFF. Also make sure to sit in the common area of your hostel. This will be the most convenient place to meet other (solo) travelers. Free walking tours are also great places to meet fellow travelers.
If you’re still looking for some solo travel inspiration, have a look over here. Keep in mind to take a little initiative, be genuine and stay curious. Try to open up a little to the people around you and don’t forget to be present in the moment. This will make it a lot easier to make new friends while traveling solo.
Have you ever struggled with making friends on your solo travel adventures? Please let me know in the comments!
Away with Danae