Are you concerned about traveling solo? What is it about it that makes it so hard meeting people? Read on and discover what you can do to get the most out of your trip.
Making new friends while traveling solo can be difficult, partly due to one’s lack of social skills or a variety of other reasons. In reality, the reason(s) for this difficulty cannot be summed in a few words. To be sure, there are numerous causes that can lead up to having the fear of being rejected. For example, past experiences, or not willing to open up or accept that you might actually need people often leads to missed opportunities.
In the modern age of screens and social media, we have become increasingly isolated due to our hectic lives. Further, we become occupied with our daily struggles to the point that we have forgotten the basic skills of meeting people.
Solo traveling can be one of the most life-changing and fulfilling things you can do. As described by a few travel addicts; it is one of the times in their lives when they felt most free. However, it can also become a lonely experience. This is worse for people who are either shy or introverts. Finally, it can be much worse if you can’t speak the local language(s).
Do you just strike up a conversation with random people on the streets without being seen as a creep or a weirdo? Are there special places to meet up and engage with locals? This might be one of the biggest challenges for most solo travelers who intend to meet and engage with other travelers or locals.
The Benefits of Traveling Solo
A lot of people speak on the upsides of solo traveling and how rewarding and life-changing it has been for them but when you are in a new location where you do not know anyone or have and contacts, it can get confusing, lonely and isolating; when you have to spend most days alone and experiences that were meant to be fun become a bore trying to figure out your next move or how to make sense of everything. At times forcing you to seek consolation in the wrong places. Very few get to speak about these not so nice parts.
The truth is that in every city you go to, there are lots of good, friendly and willing locals as well as other travelers who are eager to make a connection and have a good time.
You just need to follow certain steps that would guarantee to make the right connections with ease. The best advice we can offer today is that you “Keep an Open Mind”. You need to become comfortable with meeting people from different races, age-range, and background which will all seem irrelevant. You’d be amazed at how interesting and friendly people can be if you give them the change.
Where to Meet People While Traveling
Stay at Hostels
Apart from the huge savings you stand to get by staying in hostels, most hostel accommodations have good communal facilities that make it possible for residents to connect and engage. Be it during the group mealtimes, game times or group tasks. Since most hotels offer free breakfast, it is always an opportunity to meet everyone and connect/chat over experiences and challenges and build new connections that could last a lifetime. In fact, many who stay at hostels are also traveling solo, just like you!
Hostels are social by design; facilities are shared so you get to meet other travelers and make new friends. They have many outlets for bringing people together. The other residents at the hostels are usually traveling alone too, and all want to make friends too!
Hostels are set up and designed with budget-conscious and solo travelers in mind, and will always continue to be a great place to meet other people. Read up reviews of the locations that offer community activities.
Also, many hostels also have some form of partnership or affiliation with local bars and eateries to provide discounted drinks and meals to tourists. You can’t beat the offer of cheap beers and foods as a tourist and I can guarantee you these places will be crawling with lots of tourists and locals. You do not necessarily need to be a drinker to go to the bars. There will definitely be lots of people there that do not drink.
Loosen up; and start with a hello. You can never assume what the response would be till you try.
Hangout at the Hotel Bars & Restaurants
Many solo travelers converge at hotels, restaurants, and resorts to meet other travelers, share stories and have a couple of drinks. Even for the super social people, it’s not an easy task to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
Ask around where travelers hang out in the city and visit those places. You can alternatively ask where the locals go to have fun and while away time.
Try asking for tips on what to order on the menu or what drink to get or where to find something around in the city and get to know how one question can turn into an amazing chat.
Apart from the above, one common thing that all travelers share in common is the need for reliable internet connect/WIFI. Seek out the locations that have free Wi-Fi and you are sure to run into a lot of tourists.
Explore the City and Discover Something New
One fun thing to do as a tourist is to explore the city. Whether you are exploring Bali or Mount Everest, there’s always tours and guides that are happy to help. Sign up to group tours from locals and never be ashamed to ask all the questions you have from the tour guides and others on the tour. Ask questions about life, the food, and the people. Be nice about it and lose the attitude. People will treat you nicely as a tourist if you are nice and genuine.
Ask about the local attractions and popular places. These locations are bound to be filled with other tourists who are also visiting the city. Locals will also know these places like the point to meet and have a good time with tourists in the city.
You can take a free walking tour of the city. For example, Free Tours has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to familiarize yourself with new cities and a lot of travelers show up for these tours. Walking tours are always promoted and you can find and join one.
You should also exercise every safety precaution as you will normally do as not all who seem nice and caring are good or have the best intentions.
Use an App to Pre-Arrange Solo Traveling Activities
In the past, travelers could pre-arrange solo traveling activities with websites such as “TravBuddy” (now defunct) that allowed you to interact with locals and pre-arrange meetups.
After the shutdown of TravBuddy, there has been a considerable void in that space. Travelers have been forced to rely on other social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and even dating apps like Tinder and Badoo. As we all know, dating apps are not exactly built for this purpose- unless you’re looking for a one night stand.
There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel with the entrance of apps and websites such as Let’s Go, a new startup that promises to offer a better approach to meeting and connecting with locals and other tourists.
With Let’s Go, you post an activity you want to do, such as wine tasting, dancing, hiking, etc. You have the option of paying for both of you, splitting bills or the other person pays for the both of you.
Then, just sit back and wait for like-minded folks to email you with interest in the same activity. Cool!
Attend Local Events
Search for Local Events, Parties, Festivals or Conferences happing in the city. By registering as a paid attendee or a volunteer, you are certain to meet a massive amount of quality people, with a like-minded interest. You can often find such local events in the local online newspaper, the city or towns’ social media pages, etc.
Learn Something Fun
Classes are a great way to meet new people. For example, you might find lots of like-minded folks who are interested in learning something the same thing. As you all will be in the same class, you’ll have an instant rapport and commonality. Consider cooking classes, local history, or even take up kayaking or surfing!
Meet New Friends Volunteering
There are a plethora of websites that allow you to book for such opportunities around the world. Generally, accommodations and food will be provided for free in return for you helping out with your skills in their areas of need.
Apart from using your skills for providing positive impacts in the local community, you’ll be volunteering with travelers from around the world who have also come for the same reason and share similar values and ideologies with you. There will definitely be no chance of feeling alone when you’re working toward a common goal of bringing joy to someone’s life.
Use Coworking Spaces When Traveling Solo
Business Founders, Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, Travelers and almost any class of person that need a comfortable place to work for a day, week or longer are the typical clients of co-working spaces. Each user pays rent for the desired period and has access to the workspaces fitted with internet access, printing facilities, and comfortable work desks.
While traveling, coworking spaces are amazing places for you to sit, focus and get some reasonable amount of work done without having to deal with the local intricacies for getting internet access and constant power.
Most workspaces are designed with a community setting in mind that allows the users to connect, network and share experiences with each other.
Learn to Speak the Local Language
Finally, in a city where very few of the locals speak English, this will make life a lot easier for you. From restaurants to transportation, signs and avoiding miscommunication. There is nothing more exciting to locals than seeing a foreigner speak or make a good attempt in speaking their local language. It’s the best way to show them that you love and care for the people and their way of life and are thinking about them.
Take a few online language classes before your trip. For example, you might even try DuoLingo, a free app to help you learn a new language. With DuoLingo, there are five levels for each lesson. And there are nearly 100 lessons representing more than 500 potential studying hours. And, the best part, it’s all free.
You’ll find there are wonderful and amazing people in all these cities. Unfortunately, the ability to speak the English language serves as a barrier to meeting and communicating with them. So, learning a new language can prove to be a big benefit.
Final Thoughts About Traveling Solo
The key to meeting new people while traveling solo is to get out and find others with a similar interest. Interests can be learning a new language, organizing an event, or simply exploring a new city. To be sure, it’s easy to take the time to chat with the people around you, if you try. Sure, striking up a conversation takes a little skill. But, like anything else, once you learn and get out of your comfort zone, It’ll get easier. You can even practice today! Strike up a conversation from the local people at the market, to the cab drivers. Talk to people you meet daily. For example, ask them how their day is going. Or, talk about food, or the weather. And hey, you never know. There’s a possibility of building a new life-long friendship!
Ceejay is an African travel addict, who lives in Nigeria. Ceejay has a passion for travel and is an evangelist for a connected Africa. He is currently leading the team setting up AfriOne; a company in Nigeria to offer exciting experiences for tourists and locals in and around Africa.