5 ways for lonely solo travellers to make friendsSolo travel is amazing! Solo travel is freeing and inspiring! It makes you feel confident, brave, strong! And, it can be lonely.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, as much as those of us who travel preach the positives of solo travel, we often skirt around the big issue: loneliness. Because it does happen, even to the most outgoing of people.
While I can't promise that you will never be lonely during your solo travels, I can let you in on a few easy ways to meet people and hopefully make friends with fellow travellers or even locals. Here are my best tips for solo travellers to make friends on the road.
1. Stay in a hostel
Yes a hostel, and no they are not as grimy, dirty, and sketchy as some make them out to be (although some are, so do your research or find out the hard way). The reason I suggest staying in hostels is that they are the simplest way to meet other travellers, especially other solo travellers also looking for some companions. Stay in a dorm (many hostels offer all female dorms), join the hostel activities and hang out in the common area. You are bound to meet at least a few people willing to join you on an island beach day in Hvar or share a tuktuk to the famous temples of Cambodia.
photo by Hannah Logan
2. Join a free walking tour
Free walking tours have become a big thing in many of the world's popular cities, especially European capitals like London, Prague and Berlin. Not only will you hear some awesome stories, and learn your way around the city, but it's the perfect place to make some new friends. Most tours take about 2-3 hours, perfect for chatting someone up and then asking if they want to grab a meal or a beer after. So don't be shy, say "hi" to the cute Scottish guy with the gorgeous eyes.
3. Take a day trip
In some countries, such as Iceland, getting to the main sites is either impossible or exhausting and difficult; so hop on a day trip. Of course, there are often multiple tour operators, so look into them first to make sure you end up with people your own age and not a bunch of grandparents (trust me, the oldies will not want to join you on the late night pub crawl.) Check with your hostel to see what they recommend, or better yet—ask around! It's a great conversation starter, and you might find someone to go with you.
4. Pretend you are lost or need advice
Somewhat sneaky but hey, what's a lonely girl to do? Sometimes if I'm looking for a conversation or hoping to find a friend, I'll stop at a busy cafe or restaurant and stare at my maps pretending I'm lost or don't know where to go. At this point, I usually listen in on other's conversations (in a non-stalker way, I promise!), and when appropriate, jump in asking for help or if the place they are talking about visiting was worth visiting, etc. It's an easy way to strike up a conversation and hopefully end up with an invitation to join them.
photo by Hannah Logan
5. Use social media
I'll start off by saying be careful and use your wits, but let's be honest; social media is an easy way to meet people these days and there are plenty of apps, Facebook groups and forums specific for travellers. Even some specifically for females. For something legit, check out Travel Massive; an international travel community with chapters all over the world including Cape Town, Mumbai, Singapore and Toronto. They often have meet-ups on a monthly basis and as long as you are a member, you are welcome to join! It's a great way to meet not just fellow travellers, but locals willing to share their city's best-kept secrets.
Solo travel is great and while the thought of being lonely can be daunting, just remember—you aren't the only one with the same thought. Chances are you will meet and make friends easily, especially if you follow these tips. Unless you enjoy being a loner. In which case, just ignore everything I said.
Hannah is an Ottawa-based travel addict and writer. Her writing has been featured in Huffington Post, Matador Network and more. Follow along with her misadventures on her travel blog, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel.