Traveling solo is truly fun. You are free to do whatever you please without having to run ideas by a second party; you set your own schedules, decide on the foods to try, choose accommodation as per your taste, set the travel budget, and generally decide on every little detail in your travel itinerary. It is just you against the world, living your dreams!
However, unless you are a natural loner, traveling solo can get extremely lonely. You will most likely feel the need to make a few friends on the road. You know… someone to go hiking with, eat with, or just have a chat with. The good thing is that the friends you make while traveling are always people who share your tastes, preferences, and interests. You all meet at places you all want to be- if you love biking, for example, you will meet new friends on the biking trail doing what you all love. Nothing is forced.
That being said, how do you make new friends while traveling?
1. Stay in hostels
Hostels aren’t filled with unruly, low-life youths who take drugs for fun. That only happens in movies. The truth is that there are tons of decent hostels all over the world that are filled with a mixed age range of travelers; sane and level-headed travelers. There is a community aspect of a hostel for as far as budget traveling is concerned. Leverage that community to make new friends. And because most of the travelers who stay in hostels are backpackers on a budget-minded vacation, you can always learn a thing or two about budget traveling.
2. Sign up for a free walking tour
New York, London, Madrid, Lisbon, and basically all cities across Europe and the US have free walking tours that are conducted in English. When you spend a whole day with the same people, touring the same places, chances are that you will become friends with someone in the group. If you are a lover of history, for example, you will find someone who is equally crazy about the subject during a tour to a museum. The same goes for art, culture, sports, and architecture enthusiasts.
3. Find friends online
Find friends on social media and other online platforms and turn them into real life friends. There are tons of groups that bring together travel-obsessed people e.g. female travelers, travelers from a given continent e.g. Asian travelers, LGBTQ travelers, solo travelers, and so on. Just find the group that best fits your description. If you have made an international friend online, say on Instagram, and you are planning on traveling to their home country, don’t shy from hitting them up. Who knows; they might be open to being your guide or even offering you free accommodation.
4. Build professional networks
If you are a freelancer or you are on a business trip abroad, leveraging your professional networks would be a great way of making new travel buddies. If you don’t have a network, create one. Take, for example, a trip to Denver. If you choose to work from a coworking space Denver, you will meet a lot of local and international professionals working in a variety of fields; people who will readily help you create a diverse professional network.
Thanks to the city’s shared office trend, you will always find a coworking space Denver for your budget. Big coworking brands in the city have built world-class office spaces that are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology, high-quality amenities, and all other facilities needed to attract international and high-profile professionals. Use your time there to make not only business associates and career mentors but also personal friends.
5. Take an interest in people
Allow people to tell you about themselves. You know, a little bragging doesn’t hurt. When they are busy bragging about their perfect life, take that opportunity to learn more about them. Ask them where else they have traveled to, what they like about your current destination, how their home country is like, etc. It is through such small talk that you bond and forge strong relationships.
Taking an interest in people also means being approachable- make it easy for others to strike up conversations with you. Avoid closed body language that signals to people that you want to be left alone. Keep your head up at all times just to have eye contact with people. Smile at strangers.
The key to making new friends on the road is keeping an open mind when you travel. Allow people to be your friends, be friendly to strangers, stick to the things you love, and you will make friends naturally. Guess what, you can be a very interesting person if you choose to!