There are two major types of travellers; those travelling with a group of friends and those travelling alone. Travelling solo may seem intimidating at first, but it can be a very rewarding way to travel. One reason it may seem so daunting is the worry that there’ll be difficulty meeting people—both locals and other travellers alike.
Many experienced lone travellers will be the first to tell you that meeting people was not as big of a problem as they first imagined. To combat the fear of being lonely, we’ve come up with a list of ways to meet people abroad.
Hostels, by far, are the best resource for meeting other travellers. Book a dorm room and use the common area where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet other people. If you want your privacy, hostels often offer private rooms, giving you the experience of community living while still allowing you to enjoy your own space.
Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals. It’s a website used to connect travellers with a host. The benefit of couchsurfing is that it gives you a free place to stay for the night, and connects you to a local resident who is interested in meeting travellers—popular for its cultural exchange aspect. If you get a good host, they may show you around, introduce you to other locals, and share insider tips about the area. The website also has special features, like a hangout feature to set you up with an event or meet-up, and sections for special niches, such as solo women travellers. Couch-surfing offers a true local experience, but do be vigilant and read the reviews on each profile.
Airbnb is another option, although in contrast to Couch-surfing, you pay for the accommodation. If you have a welcoming, on-site host, you may end up with a part-time tour guide and a new friend who will show you around the area.
Events are another way to find potential friends. Airbnb’s Experiences are a great way to discover a wide variety of tours and events hosted by a local. Similarly, if you’re looking to attend a free event, Couch-surfing lists events on its website so you can find something that interests you and join in. If you choose a hotel or hostel, ask if they offer classes and learn a new skill, such as a cooking class where you can learn the regional style. See if your accommodation hosts events, like a yoga class or a nightly event. A conversation exchange class is another great way to meet friends and practice another language.
Apps and Other Platforms
You may be surprised by how many people you know who are already living abroad—maybe you’ll be able to connect. Following your existing connections on social media is a great place to start. Seek out local Facebook groups or travel groups using the group search feature.
There are numerous apps and other platforms designed to help you connect to other travellers and people who want to mingle. Some are specific to countries but there are a handful that you can use anywhere. These apps and websites make meeting people and initiating new friendships easy.
Meetup.com specialises in connecting people with common interests. Find a group that’s having a meetup in whichever country you’re in. Typically these meetings are held at safe social settings such as bars or cafes.
The Travello App is a great tool to have while travelling solo. The app was designed by two travellers that wanted to find a better way to connect with others. The concept is simple: you check-in to a location and then find other people in the same location who want to connect. You can ‘friend’ someone then plan to hang out.
If you are a foodie, there’s an app called BonAppetour, that connects travellers with a local chef for a home-dining experience and cultural exchange. And Backpackr is an app that lets you check out other backpackers’ travel plans and itineraries to see if they match up with yours.
Where To Go
Any location has the potential to be a place for meeting new friends if you get past the initial fear of approaching someone and just starting a conversation. Most tourist areas have some form of free walking tour; or consider booking a guided excursion to further explore the area while meeting fellow travellers.
In addition, long-term group tours are great if you’re interested in travelling with the same crowd for a few weeks. This is the ultimate way to meet other travellers if you’re hesitant about being in a new city alone. You’ll see the not-to-be-missed locations, all while placing yourself in direct contact with other travellers.
No matter what tool or resource you use to meet people, you need to be proactive, keep an open mind, and reach outside your comfort zone. But don’t forget safety as well. Take extra precautions and use your best judgement in order to keep yourself safe and secure. Always listen to what your gut tells you when meeting someone. Your personal safety is of the utmost importance when travelling abroad, so keep your family and friends updated on your whereabouts and itinerary, including contact details at all times!