How to make friends when travelling solo

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Want to go travelling but have no one to go with? Can’t find anyone who has the time or money to join you?

It’s time to solo travel!

My first completely solo trip was when I went to Belgium earlier in early 2016. Later that year, I went on my 4-month solo adventure through New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia. And now, for 90% of the press trips I go on, I turn up not knowing (personally) any of the other journalists. This is changing as I build up connections in the industry, but making friends takes time and effort, and with the travelling lifestyle I have, is something I have to do regularly.

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Travelling has, quite literally, changed my life, and I’d hate to think that the prospect of travelling solo would stop you guys from experiencing it too. But its not always that easy, I know. The thought of solo travel, for most people, is daunting.

Having travelled a lot myself now, I would have no qualms jetting off by myself, but for that very first trip, it’s most definitely comforting to have a side-kick to begin the adventure with you. That’s not always the case though, and better not to miss out on travelling because you have no one to go with…

So let’s assume you are feeling spontaneous, you’ve bitten the bullet and you’ve booked your solo trip. Congratulations.

Here are my top tips for meeting people and making friends during solo travel:

1. Stay in hostels.

If you’re a backpacker (or if you’re not), hostels are 100% the best way to meet people. Cheap accommodation filled with other like-minded, similar-circumstanced, free-spirited people. Hostels go out of their way to put on events and parties to encourage friendships. It’s a squad waiting to happen. This is why I prefer hostels to hotels.

2. Get involved in Facebook groups

Here, people share room rentals, car shares, working abroad advice, top tips for travelling… You can even ask questions if you aren’t sure about something on your trip, or ask if people are in the same place as you and want to meet up. We’re all about connections in the WMGT family and it’s such a growing, loving, travel community!

3. Attend social events such as festivals.

Keep an eye out in the town for social events at bars, cafes, music venues and again, hostels. Spending the evening at a romantic ocean view restaurant surrounded by couples isn’t going to get you many friends, but spending your time around like-minded groups of people might!

4. Try couch surfing or getting a room in an AirBnb.

Staying with locals (whilst getting an awesome deal $$) is perfect for getting insider knowledge and tips on where to go and what to do. If the host is home with you, on many occasions, I have been invited out to socialise with them too.

Get £30 off your first AirBnb stay with this link.

5. Download Badoo.

As much as one may try to deny it, apps are now, a legit way to meet people… but it doesn’t always have to be for ‘hook ups’. I certainly wouldn’t sit here suggesting you to hook up in order to find travel buddies;  that could get a bit messy. Badoo on the other hand is a well established platform that shows you ‘people nearby’ with similar interests to you. Yes you can find dates, but the emphasis is also on making friends, whichever floats your boat. The more of us that have it, the more likely that the girl across the beach from you will have it too. Send them a message, join the squad (always recommend in a public place first) and get memory making!

6. Be helpful.

Take bits people need (lighter, chewing gym, adapters). Particularly if you’re staying in a hostel and if you’re on the shy side, give people a reason to talk to you. If you’re going out to a bar, I can guarantee someone will ask for a lighter. If you’re in a hostel, I can guarantee someone will want to borrow your plug adapter or charging cable. Whatever you have room for, take. Being helpful when travelling solo is going to start conversations and make you a few friends.

7. Cook in hostels.

If you’re staying in hostels there are a few communal areas throughout, one being the kitchen. At dinner times, obviously, it gets filled up and there is no ‘sitting 10 metres apart from each other’. You all get cosy and naturally, conversation will start. Probably over the cracking beans on toast or pasta you’ve just whipped up.

8. Become a people person.

Be nice and be confident. Travelling solo will bring you out of your shell if you aren’t already and by the end you’ll be striking up conversation with just about anyone. Just be nice, be you and walk and talk with confidence. It works every time. Be someone you’d like to meet.

9. Be a night owl.

Basically, socialise and be alive when everyone else is… which is usually nighttime (backpacker life). Travel for a lot of people is an escape from routine and so lie-ins are a given, and cheeky cocktails in the evening are obvious. Go with it. You don’t have to drink and go stay up late every night but… maybe for a few.

10. Book onto a group tour.

Approaching people alone in the big wide world can be daunting, but when you know you’re all in the same boat (solo travellers looking for company!) it’s not so bad. Many travellers choose to book onto volunteering tours which allow you to give something back to the community you’re about to explore.

WMGT Adventures are all about making friendships and connections stronger than WiFi. Most people come on the trips alone and leave with lifelong friends. What are you waiting for?!

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