Traveling solo can be an incredibly enriching and liberating experience, but for many of us, the thought of going into the world alone can be quite scary especially when it comes to meeting new people.
As a self-confessed introvert and solo traveler for years, I totally get it.
I used to feel apprehensive about starting conversations with strangers, but now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In this blog post, I’ll share my tried-and-true tips and tricks on how to meet people as a solo traveler, all while staying true to yourself.
Embrace the Solo Travel Experience
let’s first talk about the mindset you should adopt as a solo traveler.
It’s important to embrace the fact that you’re going on this journey by yourself.
I had my moments of doubt and anxiety (and still do sometimes), but it is in these moments where I discovered my strengths and learned to be comfortable in my own skin.
Remember, the journey of solo travel is as much an inner exploration as it is an outer one.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not meeting new people right away. Give yourself time to adjust to your new environment and remember that it’s okay to enjoy your own company from time to time.
Allow yourself the space to self-reflect and enjoy your independence.
Overcoming the Fear of Meeting New People
I’ll never forget my first solo trip abroad, when I found myself sitting in a bustling café, surrounded by groups of friends and families, feeling utterly alone.
To be honest, it was pretty terrifying, and I almost swore off solo travel altogether.
I’m so glad I didn’t because that same trip turned out to be a game-changer for me.
Does the thought of initiating a conversation with someone new intimidate you?
I used to dread it, too. But as I continued to travel solo, I learned to embrace that vulnerability and see it as an opportunity for personal growth.
It’s amazing how quickly those anxious feelings can dissipate when you remind yourself that everyone has a story to share, and who knows, you might be just the person to spark a memorable exchange with a fellow traveler.
Reach Out to Fellow Travelers Through Social Media
One of the most accessible (and, quite frankly, least intimidating) ways to start making connections with fellow travelers is through social media.
As a solo traveler, I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve used platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Meetup to find like-minded adventurers and explore mutual interests.
Never underestimate the power of a simple direct message or comment on someone’s post.
Just recently, I reached out to a fellow solo traveler on Instagram who happened to be visiting the same destination; we ended up exploring the city together.
As an added bonus, I received a ton of personalized recommendations and ended up discovering hidden gems I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
Embrace the Welcoming World of Hostels and Couchsurfing
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts about both hostels and Couchsurfing when I first started traveling solo. But I’ve since taken the plunge, and let me tell you, they can be an absolute goldmine when it comes to meeting new people.
Hostels typically have communal areas where travelers from all walks of life come together to share their adventures and experiences.
Don’t be afraid to join in and introduce yourself to fellow travelers. As a solo traveler, you have the freedom to choose when and how you want to engage.
Couchsurfing, on the other hand, allows you to stay with locals, providing a truly immersive travel experience that goes beyond exploring touristy spots.
What I appreciate the most, however, is the app’s “Hangouts” feature, which facilitates meet-ups with other travelers and locals looking to socialize and explore the area together.
One of the best ways to kickstart your solo travel social life is by staying in places where other travelers are likely to congregate.
In my experience, hostels can be a goldmine of potential friends and travel buddies.
Pros of Staying in Hostels:
- Social atmosphere
- Opportunity to join group activities/tours
- Access to communal spaces where you can mingle with other travelers
Cons of Staying in Hostels:
- Privacy can be limited
- Noise levels might be higher
- Not all hostels are created equal (be diligent in researching where you stay!)
Tip: When booking a hostel, check out their reviews for mentions of a friendly atmosphere and organized social events. Websites like Hostelworld and Booking.com are great resources for finding the perfect hostel match.
Say “Yes” to Group Activities and Meetups
One of my favorite ways to connect with new people is signing up for walking tours, guided excursions, or group activities like cooking classes or yoga sessions. You’ll find yourself surrounded by travelers eager to connect and share experiences, just like you.
I had the time of my life when I joined a bicycle tour in Amsterdam. I met friends from around the world and, together, we navigated the enchanting canals.
Platforms like GetYourGuide and Viator offer tons of tours and experiences for solo travelers like us.
Engage in Your Interests
One surefire way to meet like-minded people is to engage in activities you are passionate about. This can be anything from joining a local yoga class to attending an open mic night.
Being active and authentic makes it much easier to forge connections with others who share your interests.
Tip: Check local event listings on websites like Meetup and Eventbrite, or ask for recommendations from your accommodation staff or local friends you’ve made along the way.
Put Yourself Out There
Sometimes, meeting new people requires a little bit of effort and stepping out of your comfort zone.
For me, this meant overcoming my shyness and striking up conversations with strangers – a risk that has often paid off in the form of lifelong friendships.
Tips for striking up conversation:
- Ask open-ended questions about their travel experiences and plans
- Share stories and recommendations from your own travels
- Offer to explore some local attractions together
- Use conversation-starting apps like Couchsurfing and PartyWith.
Attend Local Events
Attending local events is not only a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture, but it’s also a great way to strike up conversations with new people.
I remember attending a food festival in Rome and bonding with a fellow foodie over our mutual love for pasta carbonara.
We ended up spending the whole day exploring together and have remained friends since.
To find events when you arrive in a new city, I recommend checking websites like Meetup, local Facebook groups, or even asking your accommodation for suggestions. It doesn’t have to be a big event; it could be as simple as a trivia night at a local bar or an open mic night.
Helpful Tip: Go on themed events or activities that interest you as you’re more likely to find people with similar passions. This way, you’ll already have something in common.
So, Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith and go on a solo journey.
Reach out to fellow travelers and locals along the way; you’ll find that there’s a world of people with similar passions waiting to share their stories with you.
And at the end of your trip, you’ll have a collection of friendships and experiences that enrich your travels and your life as a whole.
Time to pack your bags.