Traveling alone is incredibly fun and liberating, but at some point in your trip, you’re bound to get lonely. Especially if all you want to do is grab an ice cold beer, share a few laughs and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, it can be quite embarrassing to go to the club or sit by the bar all alone. Add to that our tendency to label those who have the guts to introduce themselves to other strangers as awkward and creepy, then all the more it becomes challenging to make new friends while traveling!
Below are some tips to help you find some company for the many activities you want to do while traveling:
- Share your travel plans on social media
Even before you board that flight, it’s helpful to already start planning the seed that you’re looking for company. Talk up your travel plans on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll be surprised to hear from long-lost friends or old colleagues who’ve moved all the way to your destination of choice and want to reconnect during your visit. Other close friends may even get their own set of friends to meet up with you, so it doesn’t hurt to put it out there.
Instagram is also a good social media channel to use in getting in touch with likeminded people who share the same interests as you do. Just look for hashtags related to your location and proactively contact people if they’d like to meet for the best coffee in town, a street art tour or a vintage shop hop. You have got nothing to lose if they say no!
- Stay in a hostel
Even if you can afford to stay in a big chain hotel or an entire AirBnb apartment, your chances of befriending other travelers are far better at hostels. As the kitchen is shared and guests enjoy their breakfasts at the open patio, it’s impossible for you not to strike a conversation with one or two people who might even let you in on their day plans.
Reality is, a lot of tourists go to hostels because they want to meet other travelers. You have to do your part, though, by hanging out in the communal spaces, offering to help cook a group meal or joining a hostel social event.
- Use CouchSurfing
CouchSurfing is a worldwide community that enables locals to lend their couches for travelers at no cost. Yet, even if you’re not interested in staying in someone else’s couch, it can be a handy tool to meet new people in different cities all over the world. There are some cities with very active Couchsurfing communities that meet weekly for art gallery tours, hikes, dinners or gatherings in coffee shops and bars. If there’s no upcoming event that tickles your fancy, you can also reach out to other members who have set their “hosting availability” status to “wants to meet up.” Many of them would be more than glad to share their cities with you. Best of all, it’s free to be a member!
- Consider homestays for your trip
If you have troubles using shared bathrooms or dealing with hostel noise, a homestay makes for a good alternative. The trick is to find people in your age group who share the same interests as you do, so you automatically have people to hang out with already as soon as you step inside their homes. In other words, avoid people who are renting out their rooms only to make money. There’s AirBnb for that!
- Join dancing events
For those who enjoy dancing, there’s no shortage of group classes, festivals and partner dancing events in any given city. Whether you feel like learning the swing or grooving to the blues, you’ll definitely find opportunities to bust out your moves and meet new people. It can also be a great cultural experience too, as you try to learn the local dance, whether that is the tango in Buenos Aires or the salsa in Salamanca.
- Try online dating
You don’t have to look for a fling in order to use online dating websites and apps like Tinder and Bumble. You can use them to find cool people to hang out with, as long as you are upfront about your intentions on your profile. Tell them you just want to explore the area and connect with locals who share the same interests as you do. You’d be surprised at how many people will be keen on showing you around their cities.
- Get work done at co-working spaces
With the start-up culture getting so popular nowadays, a lot of cities have co-working spaces designed for entrepreneurs and freelancers to rent a little chunk of office space with reliable WiFi and clean bathrooms. This way, they don’t have to camp out in coffee shops anymore. If you have to mix in a little bit of business while you’re traveling, a co-working space can be a great place to get things done and meet like-minded peers. If you’re lucky, the co-working space might have a social activity for its members during your stay. Membership options range from day passes to unlimited monthly membership, so it won’t hurt to try it out!
- If all else fails, do it old school
While technology has made it incredibly easy for us to find people we want to hang out with and get in touch with them without the fear of rejection, we all still yearn for offline connections. If you’re an old soul, it doesn’t hurt to go to a busy park, sit out on a bench with a map, and strike a conversation with a random passer-by. Just ask them about the best attractions to see or the best coffee shop in the city, and you’ll be amazed how often that still works.
In the end, the key to meeting new people is openness and spontaneity, but that being said, such overtures must be balanced with safety.