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Wanna Meet People while Traveling?
Many of my readers have told me they feel nervous about solo travel. This is understandable. Even though I’ve gone on a whopping eight trips alone, I don’t think the jittery travel nerves ever completely disappear. I still question my sanity whenever I book a plane ticket and know no one will join me for the (probably turbulent) ride.
I don’t regret traveling alone, though. None of my friends ever wanted to travel with me. No hate; they either didn’t have the money or they had other interests, but if I’d waited for them, I wouldn’t have gone abroad since my last family trip way back in 2012.
So, ultimately, traveling with myself for company has been an awesome choice. My first solo trip to Scotland truly changed me for the better. Even if you’re nervous, take the plunge and go. You’ll thank yourself later.
However, if you’re mostly extroverted like me, then you don’t want to spend every single day alone. I’m perfectly fine sightseeing without someone holding my hand, because it’s nice to linger at the major sights at your own pace. But it’s also nice to share travel stories over dinner. There’s a fine line between “independence” and “loneliness,” and solo travel requires you to carefully toe that line.
Sometimes I’ll have erratic thoughts especially as my departure date creeps closer on my calendar.
“What if my hostel is all unsocial couples and families?”
“What if I don’t meet anyone?”
“What if no one on my day tours wanna talk to me?”
“What if” is a dangerous phrase. If you give those two words power, they can quickly talk you out of achieving your dreams. Don’t let them.
Anyway, it’s actually easy making buddies on the road. Enjoy the nervous girl’s guide to meeting people while traveling! Add your own tips at the end.
Ask friends on social media if they know anyone in the area you’re traveling.
Use social media for meeting people while traveling! I mean, this is a no brainer if you think about it. We all have too many social media channels. I’ll be the first one to admit I have a wildly out of control pinterest addiction, but I guess we all have our flaws, huh?
If you’re taking a solo trip, make a post on facebook or snapchat asking your friends if they know anyone in the area who you can hang out with. You’ll be surprised at the responses! Everyone knows everyone. Another reason this is a great tip because of quality control. It’s unlikely your friends and acquaintances at home will recommend a total creep as your travel companion. Results not guaranteed, of course, hahaha.
Go on tours.
I mostly travel independently, but I like group tours too. It doesn’t matter if they last a couple of hours or a couple of days. Free walking tours, for example, are ideal ways to meet budget travelers in a new city. 9 times out of 10, I leave a walking tour with a handful of new friends. We usually eat and then see more sights together. Also check out another post of mine explaining why you should book a tour if you’re especially nervous about traveling alone.
For tour companies, I recommend Busabout and its sister companies (such as Haggis), GAdventures, and Intrepid. These particular companies attract backpackers and adventurous types. On my tours, ages have ranged from late teens to early forties, so they’re appropriate for younger travelers seeking friends.
Reach out on Couchsurfing, Reddit, MeetUp, or similar sites.
Couchsurfing, Reddit, and MeetUp all have city pages that you can use to meet either locals or other travelers.
I’ve personally had success on Couchsurfing. In order to meet others, I used to write a general “hey! I’m traveling on these days. Let me know if you wanna eat/sightsee!” post on the city’s main page, and read through responses. However I don’t recommend this method anymore, because apparently creepy guys (they ruin everything, huh?) troll those messages non-stop in the hopes of scoring a date.
Instead what I recommend is check out Couchsurfing events themselves, see if any overlap on your dates, and make plans to attend. You can also do your own search and privately message decent guys and girls. This technique works well if you’re nervous, because you are acting as a filter and only contacting people who you feel comfortable approaching. In your messages, you can request to meet for coffee, museum-hopping, whatever. Just be sure to comment on something in their profiles, and don’t spam them.
Read More: “What Should I Do If I Feel Anxiety Traveling Alone?”
Stay in hostels.
Hostels are essential to meeting people while traveling. They aren’t all party dens for out of control eighteen year-olds on Gap Year. Some hostels are true traveler’s places, and therefore great options to meet other people who have the same interests as you.
Always read reviews on multiple websites to determine if the hostel in question suits your specific needs. Since I travel alone and like to meet new people, I tend to search on multiple websites – such as booking.com and hostelworld.com – for hostels that offer nightly activities and walking tours. I also seek out places boasting a 90% or higher “atmosphere” rating.
Here are a couple of my favorite hostels:
- Home Lisbon Hostel
- EastSeven Berlin Hostel
- Krumlov House
- Sir Tobys in Prague
- USA Hostels San Francisco
Smiling brings more friends than you can count. So even if you’re feeling scared, try to smile at someone. Now I promise I’m not being a sexist pig and saying women should always smile even if they don’t want to. Hear me out.
Think about it: if you’re a solo traveler, wanting to make a friend, who are you gonna talk to first? The smiling girl who makes eye contact or the frowning girl looking at her phone?
Body language speaks volumes, folks.
I make a note to smile to one new person every single day. It works. Trust me.
What are your tips for meeting people while traveling? Share your stories in the comments!
7 thoughts on “Nervous Girl’s Guide to Meeting People while Traveling”
This is such a great idea for a post! I always wonder if when I travel solo I’ll just be stuck talking in my head all day. Even though I know that’s probably not true, I can’t help it! I will say that back when I was studying in Rome, it was a LOT easier to meet people traveling around Europe. The United States is not the easiest place in the world to make friends on travels. Not that it’s impossible but I think you just have to work a little harder!
Love the tip for reaching out to friends of friends!
I really love all your comments! Thanks so much for that! But, yes, I promise you won’t be alone 24/7 if you travel solo. Reaching out to friends of friends is a great idea. I still need to try it, haha, but it apparently works wonders.
I wish I had studied abroad! Rome is such a cool city.
Really must try the hostels thing. It does seem like I’ve missed out there.
Hostels really are a lot of fun!
Great post! I found it as I was looking for exactly the type of hostel you describe – one where it’s easy to meet people as a solo traveller – when I go to Berlin.
Can I please ask, why do you recommend Eastseven? It doesn’t look like they organise activities etc. so not sure how easy it will be to meet people there….?
Great post! The first time I really travelled alone was a long time ago. I was 19 or 20 (I remember I was so young my tour guide kept signing the liability vouchers for game drives in my name because I wasn’t old enough) and had just spontaneously booked a trip to South Africa. It was an organised tour so I never really wondered if I would meet other travellers. My group was great and since I had made that positive experience, I was never worried again about how it would go – despite me having been incredibly shy at that age.
But anyway. Many years later, I still love solo travel. I enjoy the freedom of doing whatever I want and of choosing to take time for myself if I need to. And so far, I have always met other travellers. A great starting point are hostels. I think that’s where I know most of my travel friends from. I’d hang out in the common area and eventually, another person will show up and I can start talking to them.
I also love your advise of doing free walking tours. Those are great and I have met many people that way.
I think the most important point to remember is that the other people are just as shy and worried as you. And especially if they’re solo travellers, they will be eager to make new friends and to find someone to talk to. So don’t worry about saying hi. The worst thing that can happen is that the conversation dies and you both go your own way. In that case, you can always meet new people.
Also, by the way, in Central America I have found all kinds of public transport or shuttle services a great way to meet people. Everyone in the shuttle or chicken bus is usually going to the same place and backpackers can be easily recognised by their backpacks (duh…) or just their look – with a bit of practise it gets very easy to spot them. I am travelling with a friend at the moment but still love meeting new people. And the girl who I talked to in a chicken bus in Belize ended up going to the same place as us and we met up and spent two wonderful days together.
Oh, and one last word of advise. If English isn’t your first language, talk to people anyway. Nobody will turn you down because you make mistakes! And people are very happy to repeat or speak slower. When I started travelling, my English was far from perfect and I always found people to be very nice and understanding.
Great post. I love solo travel but am very introverted, so I’m not one to go out and meet new people. I love your tip about taking a tour. It really does help. I’ve met most of my travel friends on free walking tours. They are a great way to learn more about the city you’re in while being around and socializing with people. It can get a bit lonely when you’re travelling alone for months on end, so taking a group tour is a great way to interact with people in a no pressure situation.