The most common thing people ask me about traveling solo is, “Isn’t it lonely?” The short answer is: nope! Not at all, as long as you know how to make fast friends with strangers and locals. Here are a few tips to help you make friends in a new place, whether it’s because you’re traveling or maybe you’ve actually moved away from home to an entirely new destination.
Hotels are almost always the worst places to meet people, let alone make new friends. Hostels are a different story, of course, as the vibe tends to be more communal and people are looking to socialize. But, at most typical hotels, travelers tend to keep to themselves. I recommend staying at a guesthouse or Airbnb. You’ll almost always be staying at a locally owned apartment/house. In some cases, the owner(s) will be onsite. If you find the right place where the owners are interested in getting to know their guests, it can be an easy way to make fast friends! You could land, check in, and be sharing drinks and tapas with your hosts (and maybe even their friends) that same night.
There’s An App for That!
There is, of course, an app for everything. One of the best ways to meet people and make friends is to use dedicated apps for others looking to do just that. Meetup is a good place. We also really like the new Pal app (available for both iPhone and Android) which allows you to search locally for activities you’re already interested in, find a relevant group, and join in on the fun. It also lets you create your own new activity group and invite strangers or friends to join. Activities can be everything from pub crawling and house parties to knitting classes and visits with your grandparents. The sky’s the limit so you can really get creative.
Get (A Little) Uncomfortable
Meeting new people almost always requires you step at least a little outside your comfort zone. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Strangers aren’t likely to judge you for being a lone “weirdo” if they know you’re traveling solo. On the contrary, they’ll almost definitely be interested in your story! Be willing to open up about yourself and your travels. Share what you’ve already seen and done with your newfound friends. And be ready to try new things, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before and the locals are inviting you along. These “on a whim” experiences are almost always the most memorable part of traveling.