Most of my life I had been characterized as shy. Until, that is, I started traveling alone. Being a solo, female traveler seemed daunting at first but within a few weeks I realized how easy it is to meet new people and make friends while traveling. Often when people tell me they “don’t like being alone”, I typically tell them that when you travel, you are never really alone. You make friends instantly. For anyone wanting to travel but unable to find a companion, here are a few tips on how to make friends on the road:
Cooking Class in Nepal
Hostel in Goa
A great way to meet new people as there are lots of travelers and making conversation becomes easier. Those people are on the tour because they have similar interests as you. Camping and trekking tours are an equally good way to meet new people, as they are often quite intimate in size. Finding a tour that appeals to you that caps the number of participants are the best. Once the tour becomes too large, it can be more difficult to start a conversation, plus the logistics can become more difficult. Small group tours, be it just a day tour or a 3 week hiking expedition, offer an environment conducive to stimulating conversation and developing friendships.
Offroads India offers great group trip options for young people in India. Check out this video to see how different people came together to celebrate the festival of Holi and made new memories and friends along the way.
Without a doubt, Hostels are one of the best ways of making friends while traveling alone. Most hostels offer a large common area where you can find travelers, typically in their 20s, casually on the wifi or just relaxing. Backpackers are often very outgoing and friendly and are easy to talk to. They want to discuss where they have been traveling, give tips on sites, activities, or trekking, and want to invite people to get dinner or drinks. When searching for a hostel online, I typically choose a hostel on its friendliness and atmosphere more than its cleanliness or facilities. I don’t remember the cold showers, but I do remember the people I met. In terms of security, I’ve stayed in hundreds of hostels in 29 countries (including North America, Europe, The Middle East, Northern Africa, The Caucasus, India, and Asia) and never had a single item stolen or felt in danger in anyway. Use caution and carry a lock but keep in mind that hostels are full of young travelers hoping to see the world on a budget. Theft happens, but 99% of the time these are people just like you and will respect both you and your stuff.
For finding hostels, I recommend hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com. These sites offer plenty of photos, reviews, maps of the hostels, and you can even book online.
Hostel in Goa
While hostels are the best way to meet people in volume who are interested in seeing the major tourist sites, couch surfing is a great way to see what life is really like for a person in the city. For those who aren’t familiar, couch surfing is a website (www.couchsurfing.com) on which people can create a profile and either “host” or “surf” in any given city. Hosts offer a free space for travelers to stay. Sometimes this means a guest bedroom, other times it is the couch, sometimes it is even as informal as sleeping on the floor. The surfers can read people’s profiles and choose who they want to stay with (based on availability, space, and personality). The idea is similar to hostels – Travelers like other travelers. They are interested in meeting new people and understanding a bit about another culture or city. Some of my favorite weekends in Chicago were weekends that I hosted travelers. It’s fun to show people your city and to show them how you live. Likewise, living with two Israelis in Tel Aviv gave me a much more informed opinion on Israel than if I had stayed in a hostel.
Looking for Directions in Vienna
New Friends in Vienna
An American expat dashing around the planet, currently living in Chandigarh, India. Found herself drinking chai with Indians, partying in the Middle East, and teaching English to Italian children in the last six years. Follow her global adventures below.