I was explaining to someone how liberating traveling solo is and the first thing out of their mouth was, “I could NEVER!” That made me wonder why people are so afraid to hop on a plane (bus or train) and just go…alone.
Although I’m what most people would consider extremely introverted, I do enjoy interacting with people. Solo travel actually gives me more of a reason to step out of my comfort zone and connect with people. So when I travel solo, I like to try different activities that allow me to meet (not creepy) people. There’s always the option to hop on an app and swipe, but I prefer more organic connections. Here’s what I do when I travel solo that keep me from feeling lonely:
Activity #1: Go to a bar/party
Partying is always a good way to get out and be around people. This always works great for me because I love to dance. However, if parties aren’t really your scene, go to a bar and just strike up a random conversation. If that’s still too overwhelming for you, try a bar crawl. You’ll make 15 friends instantly.
Activity #2: Find a Meetup Group on Meetup.com
This is a great way to interact with others that doesn’t involve loud music and alcohol. This could be flag football, video games, or whatever interests you. I strongly suggest looking into this early to see if the interest group you want to hang with has events during your trip. This is a good way to connect with locals and make some friends for the rest of your trip.
Activity #3: Sign up for a class
Once I took a solo trip and signed up for a hip hop dance class. It was awesome. I was able to meet some cool people I’m still in contact with today. Cultural cooking classes, painting, pottery, maybe even acting classes all are fun ways to learn something and meet people.
There are 2 was to do this: Free (Couchsurfing) and paid (Airbnb). I’ve never Couchsurfed before, but if you don’t mind, I think it’s a great way to experience a short-term homestay and see the culture first hand. There’s always the option to Airbnb and maybe your host will be in-house and set aside time to show you around.
Activity #5: Volunteer
This happens to be my favorite activity. This is always a great option if you want to meet people and feel like you’re making a difference. I always enjoy volunteering because it gives me a better understanding of the place I’m visiting. It’s nice to see a place from a different perspective other than the traditional, touristy, consumerist angle.
Activity #6: Set up a tour with a local on likealocalguide.com
This is a somewhat redundant approach. Assuming you don’t have friends or a friend of a friend in whatever city you’re visiting, using a local tour guide site can be helpful. The tour doesn’t necessarily have to be informal. I went to Groupon for a reasonably priced food tour with a small business in Miami that was really interesting and all food what included. There were several cool people there traveling solo as well.
Activity #7: Attend a public event
Concerts, festivals, and conferences all make for a good time and you’re easily surrounded by people who are ready to mingle.
Activity #8: Consider staying in a Hostel
It’s generally not difficult to find people who are traveling solo and looking for friends in hostels. Hostels also arrange social events to make linking up with fellow travels a breeze.
So…go try it!
Seriously. If you haven’t traveled solo already, give it a try. It’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself. I personally enjoy the challenge of exploring an unfamiliar place and having to figure it out on my own, but I see how that could be intimidating. Not to mention, your first solo destination doesn’t have to be international. It could be to a nearby city. The idea is to get the experience.
Solo travelers…tell me! What are you doing to keep busy and meet new people?