making friends traveling solo

Making friends traveling solo:

Planning your first solo budget backpacking trip but worried about making friends traveling solo?

Well don’t worry because…

We solo budget backpackers are a weird bunch of people!

Now hold on, let me explain…Think about it, look around your group of friends. Are you not the one that’s a little different? How many of them have said you’re crazy to go backpacking the world all by yourself? How many people do you know that have said they could never travel by themselves? See, you’re the one stepping out of the comfort zone, you’re the one that is about to venture into the world all by yourself. You are a little weird but don’t worry you’re not the only one.

making friends traveling solo

It was Halloween…Honestly, I don’t have hair like that!

That’s not a bad thing, not in my eyes anyway…What I mean is, backpackers, travelers, nomads or what ever we want to call ourselves – Like it or not we are a different breed of people. We see things differently, we act different and we see the world differently to others.

Obviously you might have some concerns about making friends, let’s face it at the end of the day not everybody oozes with confidence to just to step into a new environment and make friends straight away. As a long-term solo traveler let me ease your concerns by assuring you, no matter what your personality or character making friends traveling solo is not difficult. The question isn’t if you will make friends but more, what type of friends you will make.

A different environment.

Experienced travelers will understand this however as a new backpacker you might think I’ve lost my mind but as a budget backpacker you leave not just your comfort zone but also your reality. When you start traveling it’s like you’ve stepped into this bubble where nothing else matters anymore. After a while friends from back home become an afterthought, the outside world doesn’t exist. It’s all about the now, where you are, the friends you’re making at the time and take it from me you’ll make friends with all sorts of people.

The people we meet traveling are from all walks of life with varied backgrounds and sometimes be people we wouldn’t associate with back home. Yet we can make friends, create unique and strong bonds with these people after only 5 minutes of knowing them. Maybe it’s because of the situation we’re thrust into, being in the same bubble, or being in those intense hostel environments where the outside word doesn’t exist. Or maybe it’s because we’re all there to travel (Well most of us) and backgrounds and life back home just don’t matter.

I have a theory on this. A lot of backpackers I’ve shared this with agree with me whole-heartily, some disagree but this is my theory…

At home, you’re that odd one out of the group, the one that is a little different to the others but when you go traveling you meet other odd ones from their groups. So you’re instantly drawn together like bees to honey.”

Making friends traveling solo.

Like I mentioned above making friends traveling solo is not difficult but It’s different for everybody. Some of you might be confident and find it easy to make friends but some of you may find it hard or even daunting to make friends and that’s ok. You will still make friends just in your own way.

Different types of friendships:

Hostel buddies.

This is why I say making friends traveling solo can be easy, hostels are full of other solo travelers looking to make friends. So, even if you’re not the most outgoing, somebody else will make the first move and make you feel welcome. Hostel friends can come and go though. One day you might be sharing a beer, playing cards together, go on a trip together and really get along but the next you might go your separate ways and not keep in contact. That person just becomes another face you met on your travels, it’s something you get used to the more you travel. Remember not everybody travels at the same speed, some will come and go within days others travel slow and stick around for a while.

Long-term hostel friends.

I’m on the slow travel side of things. If you’re like me you might find yourself arriving in a new place, get drunk with some long-termers (travelers that seem to live in the hostel with intention of moving on) a few times and end up becoming a long-termer yourself. I know shock horror, I’m there to travel not get drunk; well just be prepared!

You can end up becoming a long-termer for a number of reasons: you might run low on funds and need to re-charge, you might want a break from traveling, you might just fall in love with your destination or the friends you’ve made. When you’re backpacking and staying in hostels it’s very easy to get sucked into that vacuum type environment. (I will have a post soon about short-term vs long-term hostel guests soon to explain why this could happen to you)

The ones that become family:

Along your travels, as you’re making friends traveling solo, there will be some people you have a closeness with and they can become like family. It could be just because of the backpacking bubble, you spend a lot of time with these people, living with them, going on trips with them, eating together, drinking together moving from place to place with each other and overtime it becomes a natural to see them as family. On the other hand, it could also be due to other factors; there will be times you feel lonely so when you find a person or a group you have this closeness with you see them as family.

Excursion friends:

As you’re doing trips, excursions or activities as a solo traveler you might notice something;Some faces becoming familiar. Now you don’t stay in the same place, you don’t hang around together, you don’t do drinking together but when it comes to these trips you’ll be there together and greeting each other as friends. You’ll spend the day together as friends but once the activity/trip/excursion is over you’ll go your separate ways – Until the next trip.

Drinking/party friends:

The opposite to the excursion friend; this is the friend(s) you do nothing else with. You don’t go on excursions together, you don’t do things together during the day but when it comes to cracking open that alcoholic beverage you’re right there next to each other. Everybody knows you’ll be together drinking the day or night away, you’ll be laughing and joking like you’re best friends.

Same route friends:

Another pattern that you will see, especially in countries where most people travel the same route is see the same faces along the way. All of us who have traveled before have come across this before; we meet in one place, you or that person moves on but on the next stop or the stop after that you will see them again. This becomes recurring and along the way you become friends but you stick to your own schedule. However there will be times that if you really get along and will sync your schedules and go from being solo travelers to friends traveling together.

Meeting yourself:

You know nothing of each other, you didn’t know each other back home but you notice something about somebody; they are just like you! It could be somebody from your hostel, somebody you met by chance on the bus, or on a trip but they are you. You both think the same, have the same personalities, same mannerisms, same taste in everything. It’s mind-blowing when you meet this person, you bond instantly, and it’s like you’re talking to yourself. Once you meet there is no separating you; you are two peas in a pod.

Traveling romances:

The spanner in the works or the best thing that’s happened to you while traveling; it can either way. There is no doubt somewhere along the line you will meet somebody who you are attracted to. You’ll click, you’ll hang out together, you’ll hook up and if it’s a few times, next thing you know you could be in a traveling relationship. Traveling relationships can be brilliant or really tough. It can be brilliant as you’ve found somebody to make and share your trip and memories with; you’ve found a companion. Or, it can be spanner in the works because you get together from being in the same bubble where nothing else matters. You both drop your original plans to travel together but what you thought you wanted is not the case.

Local friends:

Sometimes you might not want to make friends with other backpackers, maybe you’re doing a home stay and you make friends with locals instead. Making local friends can be more than worthwhile as you get to see your destination from a different perspective, you see and discover things only the locals know about. You also learn a lot more, get more immersed in the culture and to have a different experience.

making friends traveling solo

***

Remember there are always groups and websites you can join like facebook groups, travellerspoint, Couchsurfing to find if other backpackers are traveling to the same destination. Like I said making friends traveling solo can be very easy.

These are the typical type of friends you will make on your travels. I hope I’ve helped any concerns you may have about making friends while traveling solo. If this was your first time visiting and want to read more posts just click here and I’ll be more than happy to guide you.

Are you already a traveler? Do you think I’ve missed a type of friend off, let me know in the comments below.

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Posted in All blog posts, Blog, Solo travel, Travel blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

20 Comments

  1. I absolutely love solo travel because it has given me wonderful friends almost every time. Agree with each point you made in this post. I especially love if I have local friends, but that is something I have to work on for a lot of destinations. 🙂
    Great post!

  2. I have met so many people while travelling and then done trips to go visit them. I always stay in hostels as they are a great way of meeting people. I feel I have more in common with these people than my friends at home who don’t even ask me about my travels when I go back to visit!!

    • thank you very much, that’s one of the reasons why I started to write. I do feel a lot of people who want to travel solo or budget backpack are apprehensive as there is a lack of information about the other side of the curtain. I know from personal experience I didn’t get informed on so much of what it’s like to solo budget travel before I started to travel. Glad you enjoyed this.

  3. solo travelling is a very risky decision however on the other side you have a lot of advantages and you can travel cheaper. I love your courage and experience to be out there in the wilderness. I salute your articles such an incredible blog 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, I hope you continue to like my content as I grow 😀 (Just finished my 2nd full month of blogging) – Solo traveling is what suits me best but I do understand it doesn’t suit everybody. Over the years I’ve met people who are super confident and just throw themselves out there but then others who tried but just wasn’t for them. I always say there is no right or wrong way to travel, whatever you feel comfortable doing is your way to travel.

    • yeah I totally agree with your poin, wishing you more and more success and who knows maybe one day our paths will cross each other and by that time I’m definitely gonna treat you a beer 🙂 🙂

  4. I have made so many friends while travelling (both solo and when with friends) – I understand that a lot of people are hesitant about travelling solo because they think they’ll be lonely, but it’s really not the case! x

    • It it a common misconception that solo travel means lonely travel. Sometimes it’s hard to get a minute to yourself, there have been times when I’ve had to pull back to have my own space. However saying that I have met and know people who struggle and have anxiety so even if there are people around they keep to themselves and I guess that does feel lonely.

  5. You have some great tips here about solo travel. I have a friend who does this all the time. She said she meets so many people and the experiences are life changing. It is always stressful to do this the first time. But once you do, it is so easy and you can make such great friends all around the world.

    • It really is life changing, views, perspectives just a general outlook on life changes. I finally came back home to England late last year and friends of mine who I’ve known all my life but not seen me for 6 years while I was traveling could see I had become a completely different person. I agree with you in that the first time is the most stressful because you’re stepping into the unknown. You can do as much research planning and reading as you like but until you actually step into it you don’t know how it will play out for you. It’s funny how over the years of traveling travelers make a web or network of friends from all over the world. some closer than others, some we lose contact with. It was because of somebody I met in New Zealand, I got to move to and live in Bali for nearly a year.

  6. All these different types of travelling friends are so accurate! I always encounter the same route friends, who I may have never spoken to before, but keep seeing them from a distance or in the same hostel in different places in a country! I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly drifted from friends that I’ve made while travelling, as more time passes though. I guess our lives just go in different directions. I think there’s some beauty to be found in remembering the good times and not trying to force a friendship that doesn’t fit anymore. Like you said, when you travel, it’s like being in this bubble of an alternate reality, and sometimes that just doesn’t fit into real life.

    • I think you’re spot on, traveling friends come and go but you shouldn’t try to force them, the ones that will stay in your life will stay….just last month a good traveling friend of mine who I keep in contact with but not seen for 4 years popped over to London, we met up and it was like we hadn’t been away from each other at all. However in the other hand there are people who once they leave are out of mind, that might sound a bit harsh but that’s how traveling life can be.

  7. I totally identify as a chronic solo traveller. Sometimes I like the solitude of it all and sometimes its nice being aurrounded by a like minded group of people. But we so are a different type of people.

    • I know what you mean, I’m the same there are some days where I just don’t want to know anybody else and can go have a great time by myself but others days I can’t be left alone and need to be around people. And I love how so many people from different walks off life can come together, so many different characters and personalities just getting along with each other.

  8. I’ve always been an introvert since I was young and making friends while travelling or even talking to strangers for that matter was never a thing I could’ve imagined myself doing. However, after a couple of solo trips, I began to notice how I opened up, talked to people and even started to make friends. I’m still quite new at it though, I mostly travel with my husband and don’t feel the need to make friends while on the go. But having been out on my own a couple of times has changed my perspective and eventually, me. I still won’t end up making long terms friends though, can’t really imagine that! But you never know 🙂

    • What you went through, is not too uncommon with travelers, I’ve met quite a few that were very shy, some with social anxiety that for the first few days wouldn’t even say hello but once they started to feel comfortable and relaxed would start to open up and start to join in. You never know who you will meet traveling, you may find a lifelong friend out there 😀

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