Travelling solo can be a nerve-wracking experience. Depending on your personality, there are a lot of fears. Will I make friends? Will I be able to get around a country where I don’t know the language? What will people think of me if I’m always doing stuff on my own? Am I going to be lonely?
All of these are legitimate concerns, but once you start travelling, they’re sure to disappear quickly. Other than primary school and university, there’s no easier time in your life to make friends than travelling. Remember, lots of people are in the same boat as you, and you already have something in common with your fellow travellers – you’ve taken the leap to live your dream.
At first, it can be confusing knowing how to make friends when travelling solo. That’s where this article comes in – we’re going to give you the top tips for travelling solo. So, put your nerves to one side, and with our help, jump headfirst into solo travelling!
Stay in a hostel
A hostel should be your first port of call as a solo traveller. They’re generally much cheaper than hotels, and offer a more sociable experience. Not only is it a great place for making friends, it’s can also be your base for learning about the local area, doing tours further afield, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Few hostels fit with stereotypes of the past, and common rooms are often stacked with drinks, games, and comfortable spaces to relax with fellow travellers and strike up a conversation. A lot of hostels even have their own bar.
When picking a hostel, make sure that you look at the photos and the descriptions – if you get one that really fits with your personality, you’re likely to meet people that you have something in common with!
Learn some words in the local language
It can be invaluable to know locals in a new place, and there’s no better way to make a connection with them than speaking to them in their native language. Not only will you have learned something, but locals will see that you are making an effort and will be more likely to be receptive to your requests. They might even give you handy tips on the local area!
Many people panic when it comes to learning languages, but the most important thing is not getting your vocabulary and grammar right 100% of the time, it’s being understood and being able to make a connection. And it looks really impressive if you can order a meal or buy something from the supermarket without switching back to your home language.
Get yourself a phrasebook or a language app, and start brushing up before your trip.
Do an activity/Go on a tour
Travelling is a perfect way to build on your interests in your home country. Not only will you meet new people, but you’ll also learn new skills. Tried a delicious local dish but don’t know how to make it? Go to a cooking class. Seen a snow-capped mountain when you were travelling in on the bus? Climb it. Want to relax? Try a yoga class.
Activities like this are a great way to meet like-minded individuals, get a flavour of what’s on offer in the local area, integrate into the country’s culture, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Also, in the case of a class, you can seriously impress your friends and family when you get back home!
Go to an independent coffee shop/restaurant/bar
Hostels are great for socialising, but sometimes it’s nice to get a change of scenery. There’s no better place to do that than in a local independent establishment. Spend your time people-watching and getting a feel for the local city, while seeing if the staff have any good tips on what to do in the area.
If you feel that you’re in a safe place, it could even be a good idea to put your camera or a guidebook on your table to mark you out as a tourist. Why would you want to do that? Well, it automatically makes you more approachable, and might get you and another traveller to spark up a conversation.
Because it’s an independent establishment, you’re also supporting the local economy and travelling responsibly.
Isn’t Tinder a dating site I hear you ask? Well, yes it can be used for that. However, more and more travellers are using Tinder, as it gives them the opportunity to discover a new place through the eyes of a local. They’ll have their favourite restaurants, bars, and places that are a little off the beaten tourist track.
Although this sounds like a one-sided relationship, it doesn’t have to be. If English isn’t the first language of the country you’re in, English speaking travellers are a great opportunity for locals to practice their English. If they want to, of course!
The best thing is when both of you get along really well. Tinder can be the starting point for lasting friendships, and maybe even more!
Carry a book
Sometimes you are going to end up spending time alone, whether it’s by choice or not. When this happens, don’t spend your time scrolling through social media on your phone – that can give you FOMO and make you miss home. A better option is a book. Reading is proven to reduce stress and has a positive effect on the body. A book is the perfect companion for an afternoon in a hammock or at the beach. It’s also a better conversation than a phone – someone may share your taste of author or genre and approach you.
Also, for anyone who’s a travel blogger, or even just writing a diary of their trip, your brain absorbs the vocabulary and styles of book, making you a better writer.
Last but not least, smile. It may sound silly, but other people are much more likely to approach you if you look happy and welcoming!
Hopefully, these tips will help you along your travels, and just remember that no one is a stranger when they’re travelling! For more tips on travelling, check out Trip101.