Are you putting off taking a vacation because you’re in between relationships or your friends used up their vacation days for the year? Solo travel may be less lonely than you think.
While there are times when you want to enjoy your own company, it’s easy to socialize with others when you’re on the road. Whatever your destination or budget, try these suggestions for making new friends on your next trip and staying in touch after you return home.
Planning Your Trip
1. Skip chain hotels. Major hotels make sense for business travelers who need efficiency, but you’ll probably meet a wider range of personalities if you choose alternative accommodations. Try Airbnb, hostels, and family inns.
2. Study the language. You can learn basic phrases even if you lack the time to become fluent. Most locals will appreciate your making an effort.
3. Use an app. A growing number of apps will let you use your phone to find a travel companion and coordinate arrangements. A few popular options include Backpackr, Travello, and Tourlina, which is exclusively for women.
4. Volunteer your time. Create an instant community by signing up for a group service project. Browse the listings at sites like Workaway that often provide free board in return for your time or contact a charity you already support to discuss their programs.
5. Contact a local. You might feel more secure having someone ready to greet you when you arrive. Ask family and friends if they know anyone at your destination or check for local members of organizations to which you belong. Set up a lunch or coffee date if they’re available.
6. Post on Facebook. Share your itinerary with your social media friends. They may send suggestions for who to meet or things to do.
Taking Your Trip
1. Be flexible. Resolve to talk with strangers and try new activities. Be prepared to change your daily schedule if someone suggests something interesting.
2. Eat out. Sharing food encourages conversation. Ask to be seated at the bar instead of at a private table. Invite others to join you for meals or buy street food you can take to a park bench.
3. Pursue your interests. Meet others who share your passions. Look up local Meetup groups or check community calendars for wine tastings or scuba diving lessons.
4. Play a game. Bring along a deck of cards or a miniature magnetic board game. Your fellow travelers may be grateful for the entertainment on long train and bus rides.
5. Ask questions. It’s natural to be curious when you’re visiting an unfamiliar place. Ask locals or more seasoned travelers for their recommendations. Invite others to talk about themselves and their experiences.
6. Take a tour. If you still have more solitary time than you like or you’re tired of arranging your own itinerary, let a tour guide take over for a while. Most cities will have walking tours for various museums, monuments, and neighborhoods.
7. Collect contact information. When you meet someone that you want to stay in touch with, be sure to ask for their details before you move on. You might continue an online relationship or show them around if they come to visit where you live.
8. Stay safe. While many fellow travelers and locals will be sincere and helpful, it’s important to stay alert when you’re far from home. Protect your valuables, meet in public spaces, and leave if anything makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you keep an open mind, you’ll discover plenty of opportunities to make new travel buddies anywhere you go. Connecting with others will enrich your travel experience whether your paths cross briefly or you become lasting friends.