Making friends traveling solo.
Making friends traveling solo
How do you make friends traveling solo?
Having solo traveled around the world since 2010 a question I get asked a lot and still to this day is, How do you make friends traveling solo? My answer to that is – It’s pretty easy!
So, if you have the same question on your mind, I’ll show you why it’s easy.
It’s easy because there are so many opportunities in making friends traveling solo. Yes, I understand not everybody oozes with the confidence to walk up to just anybody and make friends, a lot of new travelers will find it difficult but the opportunities are there for you.
First of all backpacker hostels are a great start to meet likeminded people, other travelers who are or have been in your shoes. Remember, just because you’ve chosen to travel solo it doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone, in fact, it’s actually quite hard to be alone at times.
It’s not just hostels but you can make friends on excursions, during tours, in transit, at the airport, in backpacker or local bars, in a cafe, walking down the street, or a chance meeting. Some of the closest friends I’ve made traveling were from chance meetings, quite a few from drunken conversations but a couple from just saying hi in passing.
The beauty of solo traveling through, you can pick and choose who you want to be friends with, if you don’t like somebody you’re under no obligation to be friends.
Don’t worry, everything’s gonna be alright!
As you can see there are plenty of opportunities in making friends traveling solo, and the great thing about solo travel, you won’t come across just one type of character, you will see and meet such an array of characters.
So, if you’re worried about making friends traveling solo, don’t worry, you’re gonna be ok because of one special thing.
Solo travelers are a little bit weird!
Now hold on, let me explain…Think about it, think of the group of friends you have back home. Are you not the one that’s a little different from them? How many of them have said you’re a little crazy to go traveling the world by yourself? How many of them have said they could never do that themselves, that you’re so brave? Which of these friends are planning their lives and settling down while you want to go and explore the world? See what I’m getting at?
You’re the one who acted and saw things differently as you grew up, you’re the one willing to step out of the comfort zone and into the unknown, you’re the one who dares, you’re the one that gets restless, thinks there’s more to life and is curious to explore. And, you’re the one that wants to travel the world by yourself – you weirdo! But, don’t worry, you’re not the only one!
An alternate reality – The backpacking bubble.
Until you actually experience this for yourself you won’t believe what I’m saying but when you start traveling, as a backpacker, a solo traveler or budget traveler you not only leave your comfort zone, you leave your reality.
When you start traveling it’s like you’ve stepped into this thick bubble and nothing else matters anymore or even exist. After a while friends from back home become an afterthought and your mindset changes. 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 they’ll 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 world 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.”
So really the question that should get asked instead of how to make friends traveling solo, is what type of friends you’ll make traveling solo?
Common types of friends you’ll make or encounter solo traveling
Hands down the easiest way in making friends traveling solo is within a hostel. Backpacker hostels create such a unique environment, they can be much more than just a place to sleep, they can actually play a significant role in your whole trip. They are full of other travelers with the majority looking to make friends.
Now don’t worry, not all hostels are full of party animals bouncing off the walls, there are different types of hostels. Hostels are full of different characters, different types of people, so even if you’re not the most outgoing, or need somebody to make the first move and make you feel welcome, you’ll be ok.
Hostel friends can come and go though, some will become lifelong friends, some will become closer than family, some will turn into a family but others will go. This is just part of traveling life, one day you’re having a beer playing cards the next you go your separate ways and never see each other again. 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 no 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.
Strangers who become family.
As mentioned above, there will be people you come across who you instantly form a tight bond with, these people can literally go from being strangers to becoming your family in a number of days. It’s funny because sometimes they know more about you and understand you better than your own family does.
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 over time it becomes natural to see them as a 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 a family.
No, I don’t mean self-discovery or meeting your doppelganger, I mean there will be somebody you come across who is the exact same as you. The funny thing is you won’t know anything about each other, you might already be staying in the same place and have made the same friends but are not friends yourselves. It will be only after a chance meeting (or a drunken conversation on a doorstep) that you just instantly click and realize you’ve met yourself. You both have the same mentality, think the same, same characteristics, same mannerisms, personalities, the same things in common.
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.
Making friends traveling solo can happen anywhere and there’s a good chance of it on excursions. These are people you will only meet when you’re doing an excursion or trip, they might not stay in the same place as you, or hang out in the same places as you but on trips, you’ll meet and greet like you’re friends. You’ll end up spending the day(s) with them laughing, joking but once the excursion is over you’ll go your separate ways. That’s until the next trip you bump into each other.
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.
Different to the same route friends because you will only come together when moving destinations. With these types of friends you’re likely not to stay in the same places or do the same excursions but when you’re there at the bus/train station or airport you’ll be there waiting together. You’ll keep each other company during your journeys, talk about what you’ve done in your previous destination and when you arrive at the new one go your separate ways. When the time comes to move on again you’ll be there together again.
Same route friends:
There are some countries or regions you’ll go to where everybody takes the same kind of routes like the East coast of Australia or the Gringo trails through Central America. These are well-trodden paths and you’re likely to see the same faces along the way. These are people who you might not be friends with, to begin with, but over time after bumping into each other a number of times you’ll start to become friends.
The thing with same route friends is that you stick to your own plans, you don’t travel together, so, for instance, you might already be in a destination and a familiar face turns up. You’ll hang out together, do things together but when the time comes fro one of you to move on, you do. This becomes a recurring theme through the trip and at some point depending on how close you get you might sync up and end up traveling together.
The spanner in the works or the best thing that’s happened to you while traveling; it can go 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. They 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 a 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.
It’s not just travelers who you’ll make friends with, there are plenty of chances to make friends with locals too. This could be by just getting to know local because you’re staying in the same place for a long time, or fro a bar, your Couchsurfing or Air BnB host, or your homestay family.
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.
By making friends with locals, I’ve learned so much about how things work. I’ve learned about how things work, what and how tourists are viewed (and ripped off). Also, by being in and around locals, you’re not viewed as a traveler or tourist which helps a lot.
Making friends traveling solo
It’s funny because most first-time solo travelers worry that they won’t make friends before a trip but in-fact it’s solo travelers who are more likely to make traveling friends than those who travel in groups. The reason for it, when you travel in groups you already have your friends, you have your circle while traveling solo you’re more open to making friends.
As you can see from this post, there will be plenty of opportunities to make all kinds of friends solo traveling and trust me there will be times you’ll be desperate to find some alone time.
If you still have concerns with making friends traveling solo, the internet can also help with groups and websites you can join like, different facebook groups, twitter, travel forums, lonely planet travelers community, travellerspoint, or the Couchsurfing community
Did you find this making friends traveling solo post helpful? Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to know.
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