There’s a huge misconception that travelling solo means being on your own. Of course there will be periods of this, but for the most part, you’re going to be sharing your adventures with like minded people! Plus you'll be making lifelong friends in the process. Solo travel is one of the most rewarding and invigorating ways to experience the world. But, unless you’re a social butterfly, striking up those initial conversations with strangers can be daunting. Here are our best non-cringe ways to make friends when you're travelling solo.
1. Stay in hostels
Hostels are the epicentre of action for backpackers. They're very much designed with social interaction in mind. Let’s face it, when you’re sharing a room with a handful of other people it would be weirder if you didn’t get chatting. Even if you’re staying in a private room or a nearby hotel, hostel bars are still the best places to make friends. Plonk yourself at the bar, grab a drink, wear your friendliest of smiles and start with a few simple hellos to your fellow travellers.
2. Do activities and excursions
Whether it's pub crawls, cookery classes or a multi-day hike that you’re into, signing yourself up for an activity is a surefire way to meet people with similar interests. You instantly have something in common to get the conversation started and things will naturally flow from there. And if people on your trip are also travelling on their own, they will be as eager as you to get to know a friendly face. Whether it’s because you are sharing a hangover the next day or encouraging each other over that mountain, there’s going to be a bonding opportunity.
3. Be open minded
Yes, it can seem odd to strike up a conversation with someone you know nothing about. But, the social interaction handbook goes out the window when you are travelling. Just because someone doesn't look like someone you would normally hang out with, doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot in common. Age and backgrounds matter zilch. Besides, you already do have one thing in common, you love to travel. Start with your regular questions of ‘how long have you been travelling’ and ‘where have you been’ to get the ball rolling.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously
A common barrier to making new friends that lots of people have is self-doubt. Running questions through your head like ‘what if I’m not interesting enough’ or ‘what if I say something stupid’ is not helpful in this scenario. Once you’ve put yourself out there a few times, your confidence will skyrocket. So initially, try to forget your hangups and worry less about what others think of you. Besides, travelling abroad on your own already makes you pretty damn cool in our book.
5. Say yes to new experiences
Try to be as flexible with your plans and as open to new experiences as you can. You may have never tried surfing before or be pretty nervous about your first scuba diving expedition, but if a group of new travel buddies ask you along, these are not adventures you want to miss out on! They will likely turn out to be some of your best memories from your travels. Maybe a certain destination wasn't next on your itinerary but those awesome guys you met in the bar invited you to go with them, just rework your plans and thank us later.
So stop waiting around for someone to come along and share your travel plans, get your bag packed and meet them on the road.
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