If you’re thinking about travelling solo for the first time, this post is definitely for you. I always say that even if you’re starting your journey solo, you’ll almost immediately find others to start conversation with or even join in on your journey. But, starting conversation with people you’ve never met before can be intimidating, especially for someone travelling alone for the first time.
Once you take that leap to travel on your own and talk to that first stranger, you’ll quickly realize how friendly most people are. This is especially true when you meet other travellers who are likely just as interested in exploring the world as you are. If this is the case, you officially have your first thing in common making it less awkward to strike up a good conversation.
Many of my best friends today are people that I met during my solo travels. I’ve found that travel has a way of creating special bonds between people in a much quicker way than other social situations. This is because you experience some of the most intimate, intense and life changing moments of your life with these people.
Now before you work up the courage to walk up to that person or group of people and introduce yourself, you’ll need to know where to find them! The following are 7 ways I’ve personally found amazing people during my travels:
Stay In Hostels
Hostels are designed for travellers to meet other travellers. I think that when some people think of the word “hostel,” they think of dirty sheets, hard mattresses, 10 people sharing one washroom and that one drunken guy who keeps waking you up at 3 o’clock in the morning. While there are definitely hostels that fall into all of these categories, there are also ones that are far more beautiful and unique then most hotels you’d stay in for triple the price. I’ve stayed in 5-star luxurious hotels before and still prefer some of the hostels I’ve stayed in.
Most hostels will have community spaces with sofas, books, games and sometimes a television. They’ll also have a communal kitchen, which is particularly nice if you’ve been travelling for a while and want a home cooked meal. These are going to be the most common places to meet your hostel mates.
Use Social Media To Meet Other Travellers
There are many social websites that have been set up for you to meet others travelling at the same time or local people in your destination. One of my favourite sites is Couchsurfing. Not only is this website great for finding free accommodation, but it’s great for arranging meet-ups with other travellers or locals (if even for a coffee or afternoon city tour).
Facebook will allow you to tag yourself as traveling to a particular destination or accommodation, and you can see who else has tagged themselves in that location too. Twitter and Instagram are also great too to meet other people travelling where you are. You just search for the hashtag of the city you’re visiting and you may find some like minded travellers in the same areas as you.
Note: Please us common sense when you are meeting strangers you’ve connected with over the internet. Always tell someone (family, friends, staff at the hostel you’re staying) where you’re going and who you’ll be meeting. Bring a phone with you and always follow your gut feeling. For Couchsurfing, be sure to check out the reviews of other people who have stayed or met with this person. Do they have several good reviews already?
Volunteer At A Local Project
It’s really special to give back to the communities you visit. This is especially worth considering if you’re on a long-term trip. You’ll meet like-minded locals and other volunteers who are working on the project. Together you’ll develop a bond together while doing good for others. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Take A Class In Your Destination
If you’re going to be spending a few days in a particular town or city, try to take a class or course in something you’re interested in. Do you like cooking? Take a local cooking class. Not only will this be delicious and cultural, but it’ll allow you to meet others visiting the area for the first time too. Do you like to stay active during your travels? Why not try a Muay Thai class in Thailand? It’s a great way to stay fit and make new friends.
Try To Learn The Local Language
Whenever you’re traveling in a new destination, trying to learn a few words in the native language will help you to get by with the locals. If you’re traveling longer term, you can try to really get a handle on the language by practicing words and phrases. Not only will the locals be impressed with you for trying to speak in their native tongue, but it will allow you to build friendships with the people who are from the places you visit.
Enjoy A Walking Tour
One of the best ways of orientating yourself in a new destination is to explore the city by foot. You’ll get a great idea for the layout of the city and where the main highlights are. You’ll also meet other travellers who are just as curious to explore this new place as you are. You may even make friends with someone you’d least expect.
Cook In a Communal Kitchen
Cooking in a communal kitchen is one of the most social things you can do. You’ll often find these in hostels. You’ll often be sharing the area with one or more people and conversation will flow naturally as you’re preparing your food. This can turn into not only prepping the meal together, but eating it as well. Bam! You’ve got yourself a travel buddy who also loves a good home cooked meal.
Whether you’re attached or single in your every day life, travelling solo is a wonderful experience that I highly recommend everyone experience in their lifetime.