An avid solo traveler shares her tried-and-true tips for where, when, and how to make friends while on the road. 4 133 meet travel buddies 133 478 148.
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47 0 0 0 13 6. 5 0 1 0 6. Tips that every solo traveler should know before starting a trip. Solo travel may sound like a solitary experience, but the logistics of navigating foreign situations on your own naturally leads to meeting new people. From accommodations and transportation to meals and entertainment, the opportunities to bond with other travelers or locals is built in, as long as you keep your ears piqued and your mind open.
So I planned a spa day to the Termas de Papallactas hot springs to truly get some downtime—and of course ended up meeting the most lovely fellow tourists relaxing in the pools there too! February, the itinerary seemed sparse, so I brought a blank notebook, with grand plans of filling it with my every thought. I ended up chatting for so long that we didn’t get to bed until after 3 a. The beauty of solo traveling isn’t just in where you leave your footsteps, it’s also in the friends and connections you collect along the path. Here are 18 ways to ensure you meet people along your road to self-discovery. To my surprise, about 80 percent of my group was also solo travelers. In between stops, those of us who were on our own naturally chatted each other up—and by the end of the tour, four travelers and I bonded together and coordinated plans for the rest of our time in the Swedish capital.
Couchsurfing or staying at a bed and breakfast, stay at a spot where you can engage your hosts. Locals who are willing to share their personal space are usually interested in connecting with their visitors and can also provide tips on where you might be able to meet others based on their past visitors. If there are multiple guests, talk with your fellow travelers—chances are, if you were attracted to the same accommodation, you may share other interests too. Try to snag a chair alongside customers who don’t seem to be in a group. The food, drinks, and restaurant’s scene will provide natural icebreakers to test the waters. And if connecting with fellow diners doesn’t do the trick, the bartender and waitstaff can also serve as mealtime conversation buddies.
Koutoubia Mosque, I spotted the perfect angle of a Moroccan tiled pool that I wanted to photograph. Do you want to get in the photo? After we played photographer for one another, he asked where I was from—and it turned out we were both from New York and on the same group tour starting later that day. Trapped on a long bus, train, or boat ride? That’s the perfect time to get to know the others on the journey around you. I met a Winston Churchill Fellow from Australia studying global education in the Nordic countries, a videographer from Spain filming Spaniards living outside the country, and a student from Chicago studying in the United Kingdom—who I’ve since met up with again when she visited my hometown. Let your interests lead you to travel companions.
Or perhaps take a hobby from back home on the road, like joining locals for a painting or yoga class. 20 million members in 180 countries, so there’s a good chance there will be an event of interest during your visit. Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, the site had multiple dinners posted, hosted by expatriates so that Americans could get a taste of home. I found solo travelers had congregated. Even if there isn’t a gathering of people, opt for spending downtime in a public spot, like poolside or in a courtyard, where organic conversations could match you up with friends on the road. Keep your ears piqued at all times for anyone speaking your language. I heard anyone speaking American English, I simply asked them where they were from—a natural conversation starter.
I ended up befriending a pair of older travelers outside a museum who happened to be staying in my hotel and invited me out to dinner, a middle aged couple at a local craft market who were from my home state, and two young travel bloggers at the table next to me at dinner, who I still keep in touch with today. As with anything else, there’s an app for meeting people. Give back and gain contacts! Whether or not hostels fit your travel style, check out the websites for larger ones in the cities you’re visiting for their events schedules.
Since they often serve as a hub for individual travelers seeking authentic cultural experiences, many will host classes, tours, dinners, pub crawls, and events, where the international language of adventures requires no translation. Marrakech, the city’s cabs are rideshare too. The mix-and-mingle mentality of festival culture is the perfect spot to scout out new friends on the go. England’s Glastonbury Music Festival or Tennessee’s Bonaroo, or a local celebration, like the Coney Island Mermaid Parade or German Christmas Markts, the themes dictate the fun. La Penia Del Colorado, the live music starting winding down—and that’s when the real harmony began. All of a sudden, diners started belting out songs together, some even breaking out instruments. As all the tables joined in, conversations and friendships struck up between groups.