Travelling abroad is becoming easier to organise and more solo travellers are embarking on journeys abroad. Although the fear of spending many weeks alone can be daunting for some but there is no need to worry! There are many different ways to make friends travelling solo.
The easiest way to make friends whilst travelling is to choose accommodation wisely. There are some forms which will help you meet more people than other accommodation, for example when staying in tourist areas there will be more people to meet than if you choose to camp in the wilderness.
Dormitory Style Rooms
Choose a dorm room in a backpackers hostel. Naturally when you’re around others you speak and communicate with them, it would be weird not to! As soon as you arrive in a dorm room you will be flooded with questions from other travellers asking, “Where are you from?” “Is this the start of your travels?” “How long are you here for?” Whereas staying in private rooms can mean having to be more proactive knocking on doors to meet others, which can verge on creepy. Staying in dorm style rooms, all you have to do is sit on your bed and you can meet an array of other solo travellers.
This amazing website and app helps solo travellers find accommodation with locals offering a spare room or couch to sleep on. Hosts are very generous and often don’t shy away from acting as a local tour guide, showing their guest around interesting places in the local area. Staying with a local also gives travellers a better chance to meet their friends and gain a better understanding of the culture.
Couch surfing is not simply used to find a place to sleep, there are also many hang outs and meet ups posted, for tourists to meet up with other solo travellers and explore the city together.
Meeting friends abroad is not solely dependent on where you choose to stay, there are many other things you can do to help make friends whilst travelling.
Book A Local Tour
Ask at your hostel, or check out Trip Advisor, for the local backpacker-friendly tours. During peak season there will usually be ten to fifteen other likeminded travellers. When you meet up, be sure to catch everyone’s name and give them yours. Fellow travellers will be far more comfortable talking to you if they know your name. Group tours are popular with solo travellers, so you’ll be sure to meet other people in the same position.
One of the easiest ways to meet others, I found, is to volunteer abroad. This is easily organised independently or through an volunteer organisation and often volunteers all stay and live together. The whole day is spent surrounded by likeminded travellers who want to help make a difference abroad and see a new country.
Even if you are shy, you are guaranteed to make friends. Working together to build a community is often done in teams and communication is required to get the job done. Spending 24/7 together it is impossible not to speak to other volunteers on the project and make friends in the process.
Learn The Local Language
Some travellers are interested in meeting locals instead of limiting their options to befriending fellow travellers. Most locals in touristy areas will speak basic English but some introductory phrases in their language can help to break the ice, they will appreciate you going out of your way to speak their language. These can easily be learnt by asking locals to translate phrases, looking in tour guides or searching online.
And if you only learn one word, learn the local word for ‘nice’, ‘good’ or ‘pretty’. People love receiving compliments about where they live, the food they’ve served you and their children. It has helped me make friends and receive invites from Mexico to Japan.
Make Use Of Apps
It is not just Camp Space which is great for making friends whilst travelling, there are many others to download! Here are some travel apps which include features to make friends and meet people:
· We3 Ap
Be sure to meet in a public place and let someone know where you are going, to be safe.
Ultimately, travellers who are overly nervous about travelling solo and not meeting anyone should be as flexible as possible when travelling. Travellers with no set plans are free to meet people on transit and go with the flow, potentially even staying at the same hostel as them. Make use of being stuck a train or bus for hours and meet people on the move!