“I can’t see myself traveling solo, I’m too social and extraverted.”
I hear this all the time. Whenever someone says that they don’t see themselves taking a solo trip in the future, this is most often the reason why. One of the biggest concerns people say they have about traveling solo is getting lonely.
I feel like when people say this, they have this vision that traveling solo is isolating. That you do everything by yourself and rarely ever see other humans.
This could not be further from the truth!
Traveling solo gives you the opportunity to meet new people and make friends from all over the world.
Just because you’re not traveling with a group of friends, it definitely does not mean that you are alone all the time. You’re always surrounded by people, and all you have to do is say hello to them!
If you’re thinking “that sounds easier than it really is”, then keep reading. This blog post contains all the information that you’ll need to feel confident making new friends while traveling solo, including a free downloadable cheat sheet for striking up conversations with strangers.
This previous introvert has used all of them in person, and I guarantee you if shy young Megan can step out of her comfort zone and make new friends while traveling, so can you!
In This Blog Post You Will Find:
- 7 places where you can meet people while traveling solo
- How to avoid getting lonely on a solo backpacking trip
- 3 tips to turn strangers into friends
- A free downloadable cheat sheet containing conversation starters that will have you chatting for hours!
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How to meet people while traveling solo
Stay in a hostel.
Hostels are by far my favorite way to meet people while traveling! It’s harder to keep to yourself in a hostel than it is to make friends. Everyone there is in a similar situation. They’re all travelers (many of them solo as well) and everyone’s looking to meet new people and have a good time, just like you.
If you don’t want to stay in a hostel because you like privacy, book a single room! You don’t have to sleep in a room full of 20 people.
Or do what I do, and break it up by staying in a hostel on the weekends and an airbnb on the weekdays. I find that this is a great way to get both social interaction and time to myself while on a longer solo trip.
And hang out in the common areas.
When you stay in a hostel, make sure you’re hanging out in common spaces! Every hostel I’ve ever stayed in has at least a communal kitchen and a common area to hang out in. Some hostels have bars or areas with pool tables and such too!
Cook a meal and invite others to join, or bring a deck of cards and see if anyone wants to play a game in the common area. People love to either join in or watch. It’s always a fun time, and a great way to make new friends from all over the world!
Go on a group trip.
Group trips are a great way to get into solo traveling if you’re new to it. You get comfortable making friends and talking to strangers, but you don’t have to make decisions and problem solve on your own. Contiki, Intrepid, and G Adventures are some popular small group tour companies that will take care of your whole trip from start to finish.
If you’re more experienced with solo travel and you’d prefer to just meet up with people here and there, you can find a group hike, a weekend trip, or adventure getaway on things like airbnb experiences, on your hostel bulletin board, or just by asking around.
Go to bars and coffee shops.
Bars and coffee shops are some of the easiest places to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Especially once everyone has had a couple of drinks in them.
Ask a group if you can join them, turn to the person next to you, or chat with the bartender. More likely than not you won’t be the only person in the bar alone, and everyone in there is looking for social interaction.
Go to local events.
Look for a local farmers market, concerts in the park, karaoke night at the local pub, or maybe some volunteer events going on in the community. You can normally find these on google, bulletin boards in local coffee shops, or just by asking around. It’s one of my favorite ways to meet locals, get their recommendations, and make some new friends.
Take a class.
This is my favorite way to find people with similar interests! Personally I do crossfit, so I love dropping into a new crossfit gym whenever I travel. I get to experience my hobby in other countries, and I get to meet new people with similar hobbies. More often than not I meet someone who wants to go for a hike, show me around town, or grab a drink later!
If crossfit isn’t your thing, take a yoga class, a cooking class, an art class, or whatever sounds fun to you!
Volunteering is one of the most important things you can do when traveling, and it’s a great way to meet new people. I try to volunteer at least once every 10 days when I’m traveling.
It’s a privilege to see so many places, and I think it’s so important to give back to the communities you are visiting. It gives you a chance to interact with the locals, see how your actions affect them, and meet some kind-hearted strangers while you’re at it. I always preach that it’s important to leave the world a better and cleaner place than you found it, and volunteering is a great way to do so.
There are tons of apps you can use to look for volunteer opportunities around the world. The one I have the most experience with is WorldPackers. It only costs $20 per year and it gives you access to programs that will fit any interest and any length of time in nearly any country. I’ve used it to find workaway programs on farms, at summer camps etc. I highly recommend you check it out!
how to avoid getting lonely when backpacking
Bring an animal with you!
If you’re backpacking by yourself you likely could be in a situation where you won’t see another human for awhile and that can get pretty lonely. I like to use that time as a way to do some introspection and reflect inward, and for companionship I always bring my dog with me. She loves nature just as much as I do, helps me feel safe, and makes sure I’m never lonely.
Tips For Striking Up A Conversation With A Stranger
So you’ve put yourself in the right environment to meet people while you’re traveling, but what do you do next? People aren’t always going to come up to you, you have to get comfortable making the first move! It sounds much scarier than it is, I promise you. I’ve talked to hundreds of strangers abroad while traveling solo. The worst thing that’s ever happened was I only had a quick conversation with them, and then never saw them again. But more often than not I’ve met some incredible people, learned a lot about different cultures and their perspectives, and have even made some lifelong friends.
Have Some Conversation Starters Ready To Go
I keep a running list of questions to ask strangers in the notes app on my phone. And lucky for you, I’m sharing it with you at the bottom of this blog post. It’s a free PDF for you to download and keep on your phone for whenever you’re traveling and don’t know what to ask people, or are sitting in a bar hoping to strike up a conversation with a stranger! These are questions that I have tested in action and guarantee you will find them to be useful!
Start With A Compliment
If a random person came up to you and just said “Hi, how are you doing?” you wouldn’t have much to say back, or a reason to have a conversation with that person. You’d probably be questioning why that person came up to you in the first place, and be counting down to when they leave.
If someone came up to you and said “I really love your hair! How did you style it like that?” chances are you’d be flattered, and more than happy to strike up a conversation with that person.
When you’re positioned as a stranger, it’s important to make the other person feel comfortable and want to talk to you. Complimenting someone is one of the easiest ways to achieve this! As a bonus, you’ll find something you have in common right off the bat.
Ask People About Themselves
If there’s one thing people are experts on, it’s themselves. Ask people where they’re from, what their hobbies and interests are, and bounce some questions off of that. If someone is from a place you’ve never been to before, you have the opportunity to learn about a whole new culture and way of life. If someone is from somewhere you’ve been to before, you get to hear their perspective of that place as a local, and they get to hear your perspective as a tourist!
When you ask people about their hobbies and interests, you can hopefully find something in common. As a bonus, you can often find an activity that the two of you can do together!