Don’t you get lonely traveling by yourself? Do you get bored being alone so much? Aren’t you scared to solo travel? These are just a few of the questions I get asked on a regular basis about my solo traveling endeavors, and the answer is absolutely not. I always manage to make friends when I travel by myself and you can too.
Making new friends in an unfamiliar place can be a daunting task, especially if you are an introvert at heart, but I promise there is not a better time to do it than when you are traveling and outside of your comfort zone already. For those who question how I do it or those who need a little push, I’m going to give you a few examples of ways to break through that barrier to making new friends, after you do it that first time it’ll be smooth sailing from there on out
Just Introduce yourself!
This is possibly the most obvious, yet most intimidating tactic out there, just introduce yourself! I’m not going to lie, this is even a little nerve wracking for myself, but there are some ways to make it a little easier. When I decide to make that leap to just out of the blue introduce myself, I sit around and observe the people around me for a bit. Typically, after arriving at a hostel I will try to figure out who the other solo travelers are around me. Chances are another solo traveler will also want to make new friends considering they are in the exact same boat (or hostel) as me. Also, approaching one person is A LOT less intimidating than a group of people. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the person you approach has a group of friends hanging out somewhere else, sometimes a group that came with them, sometimes a collective group of fellow solo travelers, and later they can introduce you to everybody, and voila! You’ve got yourself a whole group of new friends!
Sign up for a group tour!
This is a great way to get yourself an in with other people who have similar interests! You all signed up for the same thing which gives you something in common, and also you will be spending a solid couple of hours with these people at the least, so you will have all that time building new friendships. At the end of the tour the “Where are you off to next?” or “Let me get you on facebook really quick so I can send you the pictures” questions happen naturally, you don’t have to work for it or force any awkward questions, everybody wins!
Stay in hostels.
I’ve made hostel friends easily by talking to the person getting into their stuff in the bed next to me, or community hostel dinners sitting across from someone at a picnic table. I once even made a friend who was basically following the same trail as me in Panama by offering him the gallon of water I didn’t want to lug around to Boquete which turned into the discovery that we would be spending the next 2 weeks in all the same places, even same hostels!
Be open to conversations and invitations to do things with people you just met. Eating alone at a restaurant in Costa Rica I got to talking to the girl working that day by starting with a simple, “What do you suggest from the menu? I just got in town yesterday and I’m ready to try new things!” That statement opened a conversation about where we were each from, what I was doing there, the fact that I was alone, and she invited me to hang out later that night and the next day. I went back the next day, and she introduced me to all of her friends and we hung out every day I was in Puerto Viejo. We even talk on Facebook still! Had I let fear or uneasiness stop me from going back I would’ve missed a fun-filled night of new friends and ridiculous karaoke! When you solo travel you can do whatever you want, and hey, what do you have to lose?
I know it can seem intimidating, but I promise it isn’t so bad, even if you are the Queen (or King) of awkwardness like I am. Travelers are the perfect people to make friends with because they are typically very open-minded and welcoming, even if you open up with something really bad. I once started a conversation with a guy who told me he was from London by telling him the last person I met from there spent an hour telling me how much she hated America. Why I felt the need to even bring this up is beyond me, but he was nice, funny, un-offended, and we had a great time together. Whether you are a scatterbrain who always manages to say the wrong thing or an introvert terrified at the thought of throwing yourself out there, I promise it won’t be so bad, and after you do it once the worst is over! Now go out there and make yourself a new friend!