How to Make Friends on Solo Trips

Heather Dornblum How to make friends- femaletravelcollective.jpg

How to make Friends on a Trip

How to Make Friends on Solo Trips

Traveling solo for the first time can be frightening. It can be anxiety-provoking even if you’ve done it before. One of my greatest anxieties as a new solo-traveler was being afraid to leave my hostel at night. Traveling through Europe out of one suitcase for eight weeks seemed challenging enough, but doing it completely on my own? I yearned to have someone to share special moments with. I wanted to have someone there to help me coordinate plans and handle stressful situations. I knew that anything and everything that would happen to me on my solo trip would be my responsibility. I was scared. Yet, I went and did it anyway.

Meet and speak with as many people as you can.

Being alone opens up a social side of you that you may not be aware of. You find yourself becoming more and more fearless when it comes to conversing with strangers. Everyone is in a similar mindset, from other solo-travelers to big groups. We all want to experience traveling to the fullest degree, and that means meeting as many people as you can! If you consider yourself a shy person, have social anxiety, or generally feel uncomfortable talking to people you don’t know, don’t be dissuaded. Putting yourself in the position to travel alone already handles most of the anxiety about how to talk to people. You will find yourself talking to them. Not all the time, but when you decide you want to, you will.

Sleep in Hostels

Hostels are great meeting grounds for people because you already share the commonality of being a traveler. Most hostels have lobbies, game rooms, bars, and other spaces where people come together to make new friends. If you’re unsure how to approach a room packed with strangers, which can be intimidating, try talking to someone individually first. If someone is alone, or perhaps a nice person from your shared room. People are extra-friendly most of the time, and if you manage to find another solo-traveler, chances are you two will really connect! Talk about where you’re from, where you’ve been, where you’re going. Make plans to explore the city together for a day. It is an amazing privilege to make friends around the world, and they’ll be just as happy about befriending you!

Look for people with the same interests

It’s important to use judgment when deciding whom to spend your time with. Not everyone is going to have the same interests as you. Some people are interested in making friends so that they can have drinking buddies, hook-up’s, pub crawl partners, and party-friends. If you are in the mood for that, then by all means, you can find some truly wild and fun people at your hostel. However, if you don’t want to get roped into that scene, don’t be afraid to decline the invitation to party.

Keep talking to different people until you find the right match

There are plenty of mellow people who want to walk the city at night, get dinner, grab a beer, or simply stay in the hostel, playing games and chatting. You choose the kind of experience you want to have. Most of the time I made friends in hostels because I wanted someone to explore with. I was lucky to have some of those relationships develop into lasting friendships, while others were just for a day. They’re all special and worthwhile experiences nonetheless! Sometimes I would feel like going to a dance club or bar, and so I would make sure to bond with people who shared that interest. That meant talking to a few different people around the hostel until I found someone I clicked with and trusted.

 One of my best friends I met on a bike ride in Ireland and we wound up traveling together many times. This is in Lyon, France.

One of my best friends I met on a bike ride in Ireland and we wound up traveling together many times. This is in Lyon, France.

Establish boundaries

Sometimes you will encounter people who are overly-clingy and possessive. You spend a day together, and suddenly they think your entire trip belongs to them. Establish boundaries. You’re on a SOLO trip. You won’t want somebody to hang out with every single day, and that should be respected. The opposite also happens, when you’ve bonded really well with someone and the next day they act like they don’t know you anymore. They find new friends, go out, and don’t invite you. Don’t internalize it. Stay willing to meet more and more new people instead of yearning to hang out with people who don’t reciprocate the bond.

Get out of your comfort zone to make friends

Hostels aren’t the only place to make friends while traveling. Depending on where you’re visiting, there may be all kinds of other meeting grounds. In cities, I made friends simply from being friendly to people on the street. Find out what hostel they’re at, make plans to meet, meet their friends, and so on! Allow yourself to be on the edge of your comfort zone. Put yourself out there! Bars, clubs, concerts, street fairs, parks, and other public spaces are bursting with opportunities to find and meet new people!

Use Ice Breaker Events!

The spirit of camaraderie I experienced while traveling was truly something to marvel at. I do suffer from social anxiety and it is not always easy for me to deal with being around complete strangers in such intimate spaces as are hostels, but I made myself do it. When I didn’t feel like being friendly, I minded my own business and talked to no one. When I wanted someone to spend time with, I talked to multiple people until I found someone I liked. If the hostel has a communal breakfast, ask to sit at someone else’s table. This is a fantastic conversation starter! You never know how your plans for the day may change until you meet an amazing person at breakfast.

Be kind and considerate of everyone. Most importantly, do not close yourself off to possibilities because you are afraid of what may happen. Try it. Be open to it. Experience it. You make some of your best memories by making friends with as many people as you can while traveling!

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