How to Make Friends while Traveling

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions lately about traveling alone via my Tumblr and Contact Page.

Do you really like to travel alone? Is it safe for you to travel alone? Do you ever get homesick? How do you actually go about introducing yourself to strangers while you travel?

Mostly just general concern about traveling alone. Well, here are a few things I’ve done in the past to meet new people while traveling.

Traveling alone is like a Right of Passage; it is something that everyone should try once. You will learn a little something about yourself, and see and do things that you never thought possible.

However, as many positives that solo-traveling has, there will always be one negative—loneliness. “Homesickness”, “Nomad Depression”—whatever you want to call it—loneliness is a killer when you’re on the road.

Whether you’re in a foreign country for one night, six weeks, or six years; you might never feel entirely comfortable and happy until you make at least one friend.

Making friends is one of the best things about travel, and it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think!

Hostels :

This is probably one of the most obvious ways to make new friends while traveling. In order to meet new people, you have to put yourself in a location where you can actually interact with them.

If you’re staying in a hotel, chances are that you will not leave your room, and you will never even have the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone.

Hostels provide a very public atmosphere with room-mates, bunkmates, and common rooms. You could even make a new friend while brushing your teeth!

Couch Surfing :

Couch Surfing is a great way to make friends; you will probably become really close with your hosts. However, there is another way to make friends without actually sleeping on their couch.

Couch Surfing offers the option to “meet for coffee”, which is a good way to get more insight on the city that you’re in, or maybe even a personal guide.

Another way to participate in a meetup, is by browsing group walls and keeping an eye out for any scheduled events in your location.

Maybe everyone is meeting after lunch to rent bicycles, or perhaps there is a party on the beach that night!

Day Tours :

Day Tours are available through basically all accommodations, and can be paid for ahead of time, or at the time of departure.

If you book a tour through a hostel, you are more likely to find others who are also traveling alone. The great thing about a bunch of strangers being stuck together in an unfamiliar setting–is that everyone is in the same position.

No one wants to spend the day alone and strangers make good company.

Host a Party :

It may not always be possible—but organizing your own event or party is a great way to meet new people. If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, let everyone know that there is a party happening at a certain bar, at a certain time.

If you’re staying somewhere with enough space and you get the go-ahead from the owners, throw the party there. When I was staying in a camp-ground bungalow in Southern Italy, my (new) friend and I decided to throw a little gathering on our porch.

We whipped up some make-shift invitations out of paper and magazine pages inviting all of our neighbours, and delivered them by hand. We had a great night!

Pub-crawl :

Most pub-crawls are held on weekend nights, and leave right from the hostel’s lobby. Be sure to sign up during the week; the sign-up sheet will probably be available at the front desk.

You may have already made friends with your bunkmate or room buddies, but it’s perfectly acceptable to go alone too.

After a few beers, complete strangers will be your new best friends, and you will have cool people to hang out with for the rest of your trip.

Social Media :

You might not expect to find anything, but check your social media pages to see if anyone that you know is in the area.

The higher the number of friends or followers are, the more likely that you’re going to find someone to meet up with. I once checked my Facebook while in Barcelona, and found out that a friend from home was actually there too!

We had walked by his hostel earlier than day, so returned later for a drink! It’s a small world; chances are that someone you know (or a friend of a friend) is close enough to meet up for a coffee.

Traveling alone doesn’t have to be scary. Making friends on the road is easy, as long as you’re willing to try. There’s no need to put off a trip, just because your best friend can’t afford to go.

I really liked what Alesha had to say about the subject :

“I dont understand what the big deal is about travelling alone. I mean I dont know why people think its so strange. If I didnt travel alone I’d never get to travel (I’d just still be waiting on someone else to save and go) and by doing it alone I learn so much about myself. It’s a great thing! And travelling safe is the same as staying safe in your own home city. Dont go to deserted places last at night by yourself, keep your wits about you, etc.”

This is very true—if you spend your life waiting for someone else to travel with you—you may never leave. So, get out there! Travel alone, and come home with new friends!

 

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15 Responses to “How to Make Friends while Traveling”

  1. Kieron
    June 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Another great post Seattle – one of the things that excites me the most about our RTW is making a whole bunch of new friends all around the world! πŸ™‚

    Social media has already been great – we’ve got tour guides in just about every city we’re visiting which is unbelievable and we’re looking forward to catching up with a few people from Twitter.
    Kieron recently posted..Keeping Travel Statistics

    • Seattle
      June 7, 2011 at 12:10 am #

      @Kieron – I’m so jealous of your upcoming travels :p That sounds great about all the tour guides that you have lined up! You’ll probably still come home with even more friends πŸ˜€

  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic
    June 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Awesome suggestions! Because my partner and I are traveling together, we stay in fewer hostels and are less likely to strike up random conversations with random strangers. We’d definitely like to change that, though, so thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..The Sea Spirit House in Yachats- OR

    • Seattle
      June 7, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      @Christy – Even if you aren’t actually staying in a hostel, you can still take advantage of some of their activities. For example, you can still sign up for tours, or join pub-crawls. And sometimes it’s easier to have a travel-buddy anyway :]

  3. Robert W
    June 7, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    As one who travels alone, I totally agree with you. I stay in hotels on package tours and have met some great people sometimes. Alesha is spot on too. She is one of my Flickr friends.

  4. Tijmen
    June 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Meeting new friends is one of the best things about travelling, some people thought I was crazy when I told them I was going to travel alone. But they never seem to realize how easy and how many people you will meet along the way in hostels or in other places that you pass through. I think 90% of the people that I would consider to be friends are people that I met while travelling.
    Tijmen recently posted..3 Unforgettable Festivals in Mali

  5. Seattle
    June 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    90% is a good number! International friends are the best πŸ˜€

  6. Casey
    June 8, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Great post! I was just having this conversation with some friends the other day. I tend to get lazy and just go with the flow when Im travelling in a group, I dont get out of my comfort zone. I love that when Im travelling alone I push myself and in the end get so many more rewarding experiences (and hilarious stories of my stupidity!).

    • Seattle
      June 8, 2011 at 12:21 am #

      haha, I love the hilarious stories that result from stupidity πŸ˜€

  7. Rob Bloggeries
    June 11, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Hot looking pub crawl. Hostels are the easiest and never know where a day tour might take ya πŸ˜‰
    Rob Bloggeries recently posted..Night Bus – Istanbul to Varna- Bulgaria

  8. Istria
    June 14, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    I just cant think of travelling alone.

    • Seattle
      June 14, 2011 at 3:21 am #

      You should give it a try πŸ˜€

  9. Tyler
    June 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    I’m about to travel alone and very daunted by the prospect! I suppose it’s just not common place to walk upto strangers and introduce yourself so I will feel incredibly nervous walking up to a group and introducing myself – I fear they’ll just look at me like I’m strange!

    • Seattle
      June 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      As long as you put yourself in situations that make it easier, it shouldn’t be hard. Anything on this list will help. Especially if you’re staying in a hostel, spend a bit of time in the common area–and people will probably come up to you!

  10. FOF Travel
    June 13, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    This is such a great article!! I think making friends can really be one of the most daunting things about travelling alone and these are fantastic ways of making friends.

    It’s also one of the reasons that I (DJ) and my friend Krissa started Friends of Friends Travel earlier this year. It’s a space where you add your friends who are travellers and that way you can see where all of them are across the world. But the best part is, you can also see where THEIR friends are (your friends of friends –or FOFs).

    That way, when you’re travelling alone, you can check your Opportunities Map and see if there’s a friend or FOF in the location, happy to put you up, have a coffee with you, give you tips and info or even just give you a place to leave your stuff while you traipse the city! πŸ™‚

    You should definitely check it out at http://www.foftravel.com. I reckon you’ll get a lot out of it! πŸ™‚

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