Travelling solo is extremely liberating and something everyone needs to try at least once in their life. Everything you decide to do is up to you and you really have complete freedom over your trip. It’s actually a lot easier to meet people when you are travelling solo because someone on their own is a lot easier to approach, than say, a group of seven people. That being said, although it can be easier to get chatting to strangers when you’re on your own, you are also more likely to experience random bouts of loneliness than if you were travelling with friends. This is probably the only negative factor when it comes to solo travel, and pretty easy to avoid or overcome if you follow these simple tips.
Meeting new people can sometimes be a little daunting, but you are likely all to have more in common than you think. For a start, you’re probably all travelling and all have the innate desire for adventure and unknown. But also you’re going to meet people from all over the world, who all have different backgrounds and stories to share. Instead of being scared of starting a conversation with someone, feel excited about the opportunity to meet someone new and learn something from them. If someone invites you along to something, even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally choose to do, be open to saying yes and trying something new.
When travelling solo the best way to meet new people is by staying in hostels as that’s where nearly all travellers stay, whether travelling solo or in a group. Not only are you likely to get chatting to the people you share your room with, but hostels often have social areas for chilling out and some even have their own bars selling discounted drinks. Even if you decide you’d prefer to stay in your own room (which quite a few hostels offer nowadays), you still get access to the social side of the hostel. Even if you’re just hanging out in the ‘chill out’ areas, kitchen or TV rooms wanting some down time, you’re less likely to feel lonely as there will still be people mingling around.
If someone smiles at you, smile back and generally be kind to the people you meet as that’s the way most people begin to start chatting. You will see how generous and giving people can be when travelling – willing to share their stuff and pass on clothes they no longer want to lug around in their backpack. Don’t be afraid to share your toothpaste or lend someone something your phone charger, kindness goes a long way. And try and stay off your phone as much as you can. You will notice that people look fairly unapproachable when staring down at their screen, even more so if their headphones are plugged in! How about breaking the ice with others yourself by asking simple questions like “So have you got any recommendations on stuff to do around here?’’. And if someone asks you a question, instead of just giving a one-word answer, make sure you ask questions back and maybe even suggest grabbing a drink at the bar or if they fancy joining you on an excursion.
When travelling solo, going on tours and activities is a sure fire way to meet other people. You spend a large chunk of the day together (or sometimes even a few days) with plenty of opportunities to get to know people of all ages and backgrounds. Strike up a conversation with the person you sit next to on the bus, offer to take peoples pictures for them (even though we all love a good selfie!), and maybe even be the one that suggests everyone heads out for dinner or some drinks at the end of the tour.
If you like the idea of travelling with other people for some, or all, of your journey then try and link up with a buddy or group. The best way to go about this is by finding out other people’s travel plans and ideas. If they match with yours, or are of interest to you, you can suggest that you travel together. This is where it pays off to not have such a structured itinerary set in place for your trip, because less strict planning allows for more freedom and spontaneous adventure. For instance, you might get invited on a road trip with a group of friends you’ve met at the hostel, which you wouldn’t have been able to tag along with if you’d pre-booked all your travel and accommodation in advance.
All this being said though, it’s important to embrace your solo travel as some introspective time on your own is a great opportunity to learn about yourself. It’s likely the first time you’ve ever had to spend a significant amount of time just on your own, so by not worrying about eating breakfast alone and enjoying your own company you start developing long lasting confidence in yourself. The best bit is, the more solo travel you do, the better you get it.
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