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I love travelling solo and have been a huge advocate of telling everyone that they have to do it at least once in their life since I took my first solo journey to Norway back in 2014.
Read more: The Trip That Opened My Eyes To Solo Travel
Travelling solo can be exhilarating, a boost to your confidence, empowering and relaxing, but for some, it could be slightly more difficult to go at it alone for an extended amount of time while abroad in another country.
Read more: What Solo Travel Has Taught Me
Read more: Why I Love Solo Travel
One of the questions I get asked quite often is, “How do you meet people while travelling abroad?” To be completely honest, I’m not a person that gets lonely while travelling alone and I never really look for people to have interactions with. Does that make me a social distancing queen? Perhaps, but I do organically meet some pretty rad people while travelling alone.
Read more: Top Mistakes First Time Solo Travellers Make
For those of you that want to travel abroad solo, but also really crave some social interaction from time to time, here are some of my top tips on how to meet people while travelling abroad solo.
Read more: 5 Solo Travel Myths That Need To Be Debunked
Let’s say you’re out exploring a city on your first day there and you happen to meet some people on the street and you start to chat. You all click and the more you chat, the more you realize that they are pretty cool and you all want to talk some more. They invite you for a coffee at a local coffee shop to continue the conversation, but you realize it’s 3pm and you wanted to see a museum around 4pm. You still have one more day left in that particular city, but you’ve already laid out an itinerary of what you wanted to do the next day. What do you do? You could end the conversation then and there, part ways and go to the museum, or move some of your next day’s activities to fit in the museum visit and go for a coffee with your newfound pals. Being flexible with your days make room for new interactions and new adventures.
Visit Your Hotel Or Hostel Bar
Hotel and hostel bars are usually happening places to meet other solo travellers, especially if the weather outside is less than ideal and you don’t feel like stomping through the streets in a downpour. Don’t be afraid, or intimidated to order up a drink, sit at the bar and strike up a conversation with someone near you, or even the bar tender if they aren’t busy, of course.
What better place to meet people than a co-working space? Strategically forgetting a phone charger, or a pen is a great segue into asking a person nearby to help you out, or strike up a friendly conversation. Be aware though, that some people come to co-working spaces to do just that…work, so make sure you’re respectable towards them once you assess their level of interaction.
Stay In Hostels
Ok, so I am personally NOT a hostel type of traveller and have only stayed in one private room with my best friend, which was great. I really have zero desire to share a sleeping arrangement with complete strangers. Sorry, not sorry. I enjoy my privacy. I will give hostels credit on the meeting fellow travellers front though. They are definitely the OG’s on that subject, for sure! Hostels usually have planned nightly events, such as movie nights, bar crawls and also great common spaces indoors to meet people from all over the world, so if you are looking to interact with travellers, then hostels will be the place to check out.
Use Social Media
Whether you like it, or not, social media is a sure way to connect to people while travelling abroad. Using social media to meet people is easy as 1, 2, 3…just as long as you do it safely, of course. Instagram is a great way to connect to fellow travellers in your destination and it doesn’t hurt to send a message to propose going for a drink somewhere, especially if you follow each other online anyway and would like to turn that Instagram friendship into a potential real friendship. It’s also a great way to make a contact in a foreign city and have someone to meet up with if you return in the future. As I mentioned though, whenever meeting people from online, always do so in a public space and trust your gut if you feel that you’re not comfortable.
Read more: Mistakes To Avoid While Travelling
Join A Group Tour
As a solo traveller, I’m not big on large group trips, although I do tend to join one every few years only through my good friend’s curated travel tours, VividLife Journeys. While I travel solo, I will occasionally join a group on a day trip. It’s a great way to meet fellow travellers from all over the world, plus gain some access to certain areas that you may not have access to if you were to go alone. I absolutely loved joining a group ATV tour in Malta with Gozo Pride Tours while visiting Malta back in 2017. We got to drive off road in places that cars and buses were not allowed to go, plus it made for a unique day trip around Gozo. Although not considered a group trip (although they can be arranged), I spent the day riding a motorcycle around Gran Canaria back in Oct 2019 with my friend and owner of Canary Ride (whom I happened to meet through Instagram) based in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands and it was one of the best travel experiences I have ever had.
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Use Travel Apps
If you have the urge to socialize while travelling solo abroad, travel apps can be your new BFF. There are a slew of travel apps aimed at solo travellers, so they can connect with friendly faces throughout their travels around the world. I browsed the good ‘ol internet and found a few that stuck out to me that you guys may be interested in as well. EatWith has communal tables in over 200 cities; From New York to Tel Aviv, you’ll never have to worry about dining alone and it’s a great way to meet other people from all over the world as well. Meetup is a service used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. You can even create your own meet up event and share it online for those to see. Backpackr is also a great app to connect your with fellow backpackers from around the world. It’s a great app that can motivate solo travellers to connect with those who share their interest, or are heading to their destination. In the app you can stay updated with your friends’ travels and locations in the Travel Feed, ask questions and organize meet-ups in the Common Room and search for nearby backpackrs (yes, the spelling mistake is intentional and on brand) and connect with those who have similar interests. The most popular and well known app I’m listing has to be Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a community based website where you can create a profile to tell fellow members about yourself then use that to gain access to free accommodation in a local’s home, host a traveler in your home, or meet-up with people from around the world as a listed community member. Last, but certainly not least, Tourlina is a great site for solo female travellers to connect with safety being the top priority. A verification process is needed in order to start chatting to one another and you can connect with other solo female travellers based on location, common interests and even by the language you speak.
Read more: How To Stay Safe As A Solo Traveller
Work Or Volunteer Abroad
Want to meet people while travelling and feel fulfilled? Why not considering doing a Workaway? What the heck is a Workaway you ask? Well, exactly that…you work, while you’re away travelling. The whole concept is actually pretty genius. I hopped online once my sister mentioned it to me one day and I got absolutely lost in searching countries that were looking for volunteers ad workers. Some of the listings I saw were hosts that needed assistance on their farms, help with their children while they work during the day, help picking olives and apples for their business for three months and so much more. Workaway is a program where you can essentially stay at someone’s home for free, in return for work, but some places even offer a place to stay, meals and a small amount of money for helping out, so you have some spending money for yourself. Ever wanted to volunteer in a Vietnam dog shelter, or help teach a family’s children English in Italy? Well, Workaway may just be the site you’ll want to check out!
Booking.com just isn’t for hotels. Using Booking.com to book apartments now is a great way to meet locals, especially if you meet your host in person to retrieve your key. When you meet them, don’t be afraid to ask them for local hot spots such as restaurants, great parks, or any tips to getting around the city. Locals are often keen to help visitors and even more so when you’re paying them to stay at their place. 😉
Chat Up Restaurant Staff
The folks working in a restaurant are chalk full of info. Don’t be shy. Ask your server what must see places around town are, are there any cool shows or concerts happening and what their favourite attraction is. I’ll always chat with the staff and nine times out of ten, they’ll suggest visiting a cool spot that I wouldn’t have thought to visit in the first place.
Take A Class
If you’re travelling solo, taking a class is a sure fire way to meet some people. Take a cooking class and learn how to perfect Italian ravioli, take a baking class in France, or learn how to make your own perfume and take some samples home as souvenirs for your family and friends. Classes are a great way to meet people from all around the world, plus you’ll take home a new skill. Win win!
Strike Up A Spontaneous Conversation
Organic conversations are the best in my opinion. Whenever I’m abroad, if I hear someone speaking English, I’ll make an effort to strike up a conversation and ask where they are from. By doing that, I’ve met some really cool people that were actually from a town just two hours away from mine and I met them on top of a mountain in Austria. The world is pretty small and you just never know who you’ll meet.
One of my biggest pet peeves is a person that always has their phone in their hands…especially if I’m trying to have a conversation with them. Nothing says standoffish and uninterested like having your nose buried in your phone. In order to meet people if you’re travelling alone, ditch the headphones (they aren’t safe to wear while alone anyway), put your phone down, uncross your arms, crack a smile and say hello. 🙂
Read more: Solo Female Traveller Safety Tips
Meeting people while travelling solo isn’t hard at all, just so long as you want to meet people, that is. As with anything you do while travelling solo, trust your gut, stay safe and don’t feel pressured to join people, or groups if you just aren’t meshing with them. Have any of you guys met some friends while travelling solo? Did you ever stay in touch once you returned home? Let me know in the comments below. xo