(Last Updated On: June 17, 2018)

Making friends traveling solo.

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.

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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

Hostel friends

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.

Meeting yourself.

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.

Excursion friends:

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.

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.

Transit 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.

Traveling romances:

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.

Local friends.

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.

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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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  1. I usually travel solo to find time for myself, treat myself, and to reflect. Your descriptions really hit home because I myself have observed these things before. Thankyou for posting this.

  2. Having friends in different countries sounds neat. It adds flavor to ones memory. Hope you get to visit the Philippines someday.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ? ?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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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