You poor pitiful thing. No one to have to dinner with, walk around the city or even just talk to. We all know my motor skills are more than proficient so why in the world would I ever want to travel alone? Why would ANYONE want to travel alone? Honestly, it’s simple…freedom. To do whatever you wanna do, when you wanna do it and who you want to do it with. See, not complicated ;).
It’s true though, being solo on any trip allows you to be spontaneous, spark up conversations with strangers and take chances you might not normally take! It can be lonely or even scary at times, TRUST ME I have had my fair share of breakdowns and tantrums with no one to confide in. I have sat at fancy restaurants eating a pathetic meal for one, drowning my sorrows in champagne. BUT I have also picked my head up and put myself out there to meet some of the most genuine, entertaining people ever.
Here are some tested methods by yours truly to help you meet people while traveling solo!
Ask for Directions
Going to a new city or country by yourself will be overwhelming, and if you are anything like me, you ask yourself on a daily basis “what the fuck am I doing?” Ha, god bless my poor memory. You don’t know how many times I have simply asked for directions in the train station, waiting for the bus or on a street corner. Guess what? Half of those times have resulted in sparking conversations and ultimately meeting new people! I was in Dubai, saw a girl walking and asked her for directions (even though I secretly knew where the beach was) and somehow got invited to spend time on the beach with her and her friends!
Another time, I asked for directions on the way to Vienna and ended up sitting next to a couple on the bus and they let me borrow their phone, we chatted about our lives and even showed me to my Airbnb! A simple question could make all the difference!
Butt into people’s conversations
I have a bad habit of doing this. I can’t help it! It’s in my blood to want to talk to people. I will be in line somewhere, overhear someone talking and put in my two cents. It doesn’t work all the time, but it does work! I remember taking a train from Bavaria back to Munich, I had spent the day exploring a beautiful castle…alone. I overheard the guys next to me talking and kind of butted in! They were pleasantly surprised with the things I had to say and we all went back and had dinner together before they had to leave! One less dinner I had to spend alone.
As advice, don’t be rude about it. You might get shut down, ya might not but who cares if you do? You won’t have to see those people ever again.
Put yourself out there
Let’s just say, I’m already so far out there I might as well be considered a new planet. I have no problem making friends; hell I could probably talk to a brick wall if it came down to it. Some people, however, don’t have the gift of the gab. You have to put yourself out there!
I was in Amsterdam roaming the streets alone when I decided to hit up a place where you could learn how to make cocktails. Sadly, they were closed for reconstruction. As I was walking away, two guys approached me about what the sign said. We were all bummed but I decided to really get out of my comfort zone and ask where they were headed to next! Not only did they tell me, but invited me to come with! For the next 36 hours, we ate and drank our way through the city. A miserable, lonely time turned into one of my favorite experiences!
Friends of Friends
Find out if any of your friends have friends where you’re going! That’s the perfect way to get the hookup on local spots, hidden gems or posssssssibly someone to meet up with! Just by announcing your vacation, it’s sure to spark someone’s mind about a friend and/or relative they know!
I swear I have a million stories, but this shows you I’m not just writing lists that every other blogger writes…these are ACTUAL ways I have met people while traveling.
When I decided to go backpacking, my friend told me she had a hometown friend living in Prague. I put myself out there, went out on a whim and contacted her. Little did I know we would be partners in crime for 4 straight days, hopping from city to city. Not only that but once I got to Prague, she let me stay at her place for free! A win/win!
Another friend of mine had a close girlfriend living in Boston. I again went out on a whim…told her I had a long layover before I headed out to Europe and asked if she would show me the city. We had never even met before! Just heard about each other through our mutual guy friend. Fast forward a year later, we have been on a number of adventures together and are very close friends! A lifetime of memories can be created by meeting people while traveling solo!
Stay at a hostel that preferably has a bar
I mean, a hostel is good but a hostel with a bar is BETTER. Nothing like the toxic smell of alcohol to get your word vomit out! Amirite? I can’t even count the number of times I have been drunk and met people at the hostel bar. Too many to count…or remember? Either way, a hostel is an awesome place to connect. It makes it wayyyyyy less scary since everyone else there is like you! Grab some liquid courage at the bar and drink up babes!
This one time, at band camp…ha I mean this one time in a hostel I had the sweetest girl room-mate who ended up being my own private tour guide. She took me downtown, showed me side streets and gave me a map to help me navigate later on! Plus, she was great at taking pictures, something people who travel solo sometimes struggle with!
Tour/ free walking tour
I don’t do tours unless I absolutely have to. Waste of time for me, but on the rare occasion, I do…I have always met people! The FREE walking tour on the other hand I feel is a good solution too. At first, I thought they were stupid, but 2-3 hours hearing some history and getting your bearings on a city all for free doesn’t seem too bad right?
While in Brussels, I met some girls on our walking tour who I ended up eating a nice lunch with! Try to scope out the people who look friendly, or even lonely and break the ice. If you’re single, find a cute/guy or girl and freakishly stalk them in the back until they talk to you. Ha, jk but you get the idea. You NEVER know what might come from a conversation 😉
Instead of a table, sit at the bar
People might ask, Tatum, is your whole life about drinking alcohol? Um no, only like 95% of it okay? Leave me alone haters. #Sorrynotsorry but the bar is where it’s at. Copious amounts of alcohol=chatty Cathy. If I am in the mood to make friends, I will intentionally go to a restaurant and sit at the bar. You’re already alone…don’t make it worse by sitting at a table for 4 waiting on your imaginary friends to get there.
I was starving, looking for a place to eat when I found a quaint little restaurant in Brussels. After a little while of eating and drinking, two older British men sat down. THEY were the ones who asked me a question. Questions led to stories and before I knew it, we had shared memories and laughed uncontrollably! They ended up insisting to pay for my meal and I left with a little more money in my wallet and happiness in my mind. Humanity is restored (thanks to alcohol and food)!!
Thank god for social media apps right? How else would be able to screw random guys or girls just by swiping right? Ha, no that wasn’t a plug for Tinder either…We are in the days of total social obsession over the internet. Lucky for you, and me there is an app called Bumble BFF where you can meet locals with similar interests! Instead of sending dick pics, you are sending cute pictures of your dogs and connecting over the fact that you both love wine and the Bachelor. What better way to meet complete strangers on the other side of the world right?
Personally, I have only used it in my hometown and not on the road, but if it’s that easy to use, I’m sure you can find like-minded babes to adventure with!
Another activity involving alcohol…see a pattern here? A lot of hostels offer Pub Crawls as a “get to know you” gesture and they are super cheap and fun!
The first hostel I stayed at was in Amsterdam, which was also my first pub crawl while being a solo traveler! Needless to say, I got the title “loca chica blanca” or crazy white girl haha. Do the pub crawl, you won’t regret it!
Facebook Groups or any social media really
TGIF. Thank God I’m Female! ha, jk sort of. There are so many amazing online communities to connect you with people around the world! Being a blogger, I have secret Facebook groups where we share ideas and support! Even if you aren’t a blogger, you can join ones like Girls Love Travel or Nomads! Seriously there are hundreds to choose from!
Another idea is posting a picture of the place you’ll be visiting and/or a caption about it. Someone might comment and offer some helpful tips or might be traveling the same time you are. There are so many (non-creepy) ways to connect! Social Media can be the Holy Grail of friend finding.
Reconnect with old friends
Since these are people I have known in the past, it makes the process a little easier. Before I set out on my backpacking journey (I keep bringing this trip up because that was my 1st ever long-term solo trip…30 days to be exact!) a friend from college messaged me saying she lived in Germany! We ended up messaging back and forth and once I got to Munich, she took the train down and spent 1 1/2 days with me! Every bit counts!
Another friend from Orlando who was working in Switzerland at the time took off work during his busy season to show me around Interlaken! We popped champagne at 13,000 ft and he introduced me to ANOTHER new friend who is now a friend for life! The list of new buds you have will just keep snowballing!
Did I mention a girl I use to be besties with was in Amsterdam the same time as I was? She had just got engaged in Italy and we celebrated over a fancy steak dinner, catching up on old times! It’s great to meet new friends but also great to keep those gone but not forgotten friendships too.
Couchsurfing or Airbnb
Couch surfing I have yet to try…but Airbnb has been frequented by me! By staying in a “private room” you allow yourself to interact more with the hosts. More interaction = better chance of making friends. I have heard stories of people and their hosts getting along so well that they make dinners together and invite them to local hot spots! Even if that doesn’t happen, you can at least get the inside scoop on fun places around the neighborhood or best restaurants in town!
Always make sure you read reviews and understand your hosts before committing though, I have also heard horror stories, haha not to scare you. Either way, it’s a way to get to know someone!
See babes?? You CAN make friends safely and easily on the road. Don’t let the fear of putting yourself out there or being rejected stop you from making life long connections you will cherish forever. I swear some of the best relationships I have are from foreigners I met while traveling. All it takes is a little
liquid courage, a couple of finger swipes and a lot of selling yourself!! (that sounded kinda sexual didn’t it? finger swiping and selling yourself?) ANYWAYS, just get out there and make some friends!
To show you just how much fun I had on my backpacking trip, take a look at this YouTube video I put together of 30 days in Europe! THESE are the memories you could be having!
Please let me know how YOU make friends while traveling solo! What ways have I forgotten? I hope you apply at least some of these to your next vacation alone but until then…