I’m currently in a group facebook chat with people who were strangers eight days ago. I’m planning on trying to visit three of them in the next three months. I spent two hours tonight chatting with a woman I met on Friday on a tour of Palestine about our plans to go to a Turkish Bath tomorrow in Jordan. I spent this afternoon chatting with my boyfriend who’s back in Bulgaria watching my dog. I met him the most romantic way possible (just kidding, we met on Bulgarian Tindr). But I only agreed to meet him in the first place because I was on a pub crawl with a girl from South Africa I had met the week before via a secret travel bloggers’ Facebook Group. She turned out to be one of the coolest chicks ever.
These friends range in age from 22 to 42. They have homes on 4 contients. And while they’re all incredibly different people, they all have one thing in common: they go out and explore the world on their own terms.
Traveling alone can feel scary at first, especially if you’d like to meet people to hang out with but don’t know how. And it can be even more lonely if you find yourself surrounded solely by couples or people who aren’t your jam. So here are seven places to find people with a high propensity towards awesomeness:
1. Pick Your Multi-Day Tours Carefully
The best way to give yourself a leg up on finding cool people is to start by doing things that you think are cool. For example: I love history. A lot. When I went on a tour specifically for people who listened to the History of Rome podcast, I was surrounded by people who shared my interests. A ten-day bus tour can be exhausting, but you’re probably going to make friends if you hang out with people for that many days in a row doing cool things. It’s even more likely though, if you narrow down your tour to something that you find incredibly interesting, because you’ll have something in common with the other tourists. The reverse of this is a generic tour will be more likely to attract a wide-variety of people, but maybe not people you mesh with as much.
2. Pick Your Day Tours Just as Carefully
Yes, you can make life-long friends on a day tour. This is more likely when you book tours through hostels or other small groups, and less likely when you book through a big tour company or on a free walking tour. Be open and friendly, and you might find yourself clicking with people right away. For this though, you’re spending less time together, so make sure to follow-up with contact information and make plans to get together after. If that’s not possible, at least get each other’s facebook contacts so you can follow-up after your trip to exchange photos and chat.
3. Online Groups and Forums
I’m in a dozen travel related groups on Facebook. In them, people are always posting where they are or where they’re going to be. Joining groups like Girls Love Travel or Go Wonder gives you a community of other people who travel (mostly) solo to network with before your trip. There are also lots of communities like this specifically for Digital Nomads or Travel Bloggers.
4. Dating Apps
People meet dates on these, but they also just meet friends. You put in your profile what you’re looking for and what you’re not looking for. If all you want is a brunch budy and someone to go to the Camden Market and Tate Modern with you, you can find them. Common sense safety applies in all of these scenarios, but especially this one for obvious reasons.
I don’t do a lot of hostels, but I’ve met tons of cool people at the ones I have stayed at. Even if you’re in a single like I typically am, common meals and spaces give you lots of opportunities to get to know the other travelers. If you’re not a partier, go for non-party hostels that still have good communal areas. (Not all have great common spaces to meet people). A good rule is to check out the hostel’s Facebook page and see if they promote community.
6. Conferences and Events
I spent last week at a conference about the travel blogging industry. And I met a bunch of people who I have a ton in common with. Yes, travel bloggers love to travel, that’s a no-brainer. But if there’s a conference or event tied to one of your hobbies or interests, that is a great opportunity to meet other solo travelers who share your interests. People who follow bands, music festivals, sporting events, etc. all offer a way to travel independently but meet people you can connect with when you get there.
7. Friends of Friends
I don’t do this one nearly enough, but it goes like this: Hey friend, I’m going to x place. I remember you said you knew someone who lived there. Can you get some tips from them? And then your friends says something like: yes friend, I will email them. And then you are connected and you start talking. Sometimes the fact that you and this stranger have a friend in common is enough to break the ice. Plus it’s a good indicator that you and this stranger might also get along.
If you don’t travel solo because you’re afraid you’ll be lonely, start with a group tour or hostel. Ease your way into it slowly, but I’ll bet you’ll be shocked at how quickly you’re surrounded by people you grow to care about. It’s rare to meet someone on the road traveling alone who won’t want to hang out a bit. Travelers are people who love the world and want new experiences, and that includes making friends and hanging out with cool people.