I’m sure a lot of people who want to travel solo are worried about being lonely; I certainly was the first time I went away. I needn’t have been though, travelling alone meant I met some of the most open, adventurous and interesting people I’ve ever come across, many of whom I’m still in contact with today.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly to make friends on the road, it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and approaching people. So whether you’re looking for a travel buddy to get off the beaten track with, or just want to meet the locals, I’ve made a list of the easiest ways to meet people while travelling.
You already have something in common, your destination. Ask people where they are going, what they’ve got planned to do, more often than not they might have some tip off for places to go to you haven’t considered. This has happened to me on more than one occasion, for example when I met a girl in Bangkok airport whose nose ring I liked – she tipped me off about a cool circus hostel near where I was going, and there I met my next boyfriend! Airports turn me into a friend pick-up artist, and people are really receptive because everyone’s excited about going on holiday, so make use of your layovers and start chatting people up!
Obviously when you get to a new city the likelihood is that you know no one – go stay at a hostel, you’ll end up knowing hundreds (not that you’ll like them all). I like using hostel world because it’s got the best selection of places aimed at young people. Check the written reviews, that’s where you’ll get a feel of how the atmosphere is and what kind of people are going. Staying in a dorm means you’re forced into close proximity with a lot of other people, therefore it’s likely you’ll find someone you get along with. Check out the communal rooms and restaurant/bars too.
Sometimes it just too much hassle to organize a sightseeing trip, on those days I leave it up a tour agency to arrange (your hotel/hostel might also offer trips). Just by signing up to these tours you’re guaranteed to meet plenty of other people who are interested in doing the same things as you.
In India I loved finding little hippie cafes to drink chai in, there were cushions on the floor and low tables and it wasn’t unusual for people to just come and sit with you. Just smile at people and say hi, it’s seriously that easy. Bars are much the same, in fact, it’s probably even easier to chat with strangers once you’ve had a drink!
So there we have the places where I’ve found it easiest to meet new people. There’s no set formula how to do it but if you’re genuinely interested in people and places then all you need to do is approach people to talk to, the rest follows naturally.