You know, I think the most important thing when traveling is not the city or the country that we discover, but the friends with whom we share those moments. It is these people who surround us that make the experience better or sometimes worse. But what if you travel alone ?
Of course, the most obvious answer is to make friends.
The problem is that for many people it is very difficult to make friends once alone, on the road, and out of his small comfort zone.
Traveling has taught me to become much more open and sociable in everyday life and to go naturally towards others. I was able to meet a lot of great people and live totally unexpected situations. Some of these encounters have even turned into lasting friendships.
Some time ago, my friend Julien had written a guest article to give you tips on how to approach locals, trust and be wary of traveling .
Today I would like to give you some tips on how to meet people and make friends when traveling alone . I’m going to list 16 more things that I learned during my travels.
1) Forget all your a priori
That’s the best advice I can give you. Many people leave with untold numbers of a priori and false reasons that they could not do certain things. They feel too old (or too young, too timid, etc.) to try to do this or that.
I have often heard this phrase:
“I’ll never go to a youth hostel because it’s filled with 18-year-old revelers”
Much of the advice I am about to enumerate here will perhaps appear to the younger of you, but I have used it to make friends between the ages of 18 and 70! So do not put such a barrier in your friendly relationships. You will always be able to learn things from all the people you meet, regardless of their age. (Do not hesitate to read my article We are never too old to travel ).
2) Stay at a hostel
Hostels are undoubtedly the best place to meet people. I assure you, they are filled with people of very different ages. You always fall naturally on the cliché of the young fighter in the world tour (nan nan j’parle not mine). But you can also come across families who choose to travel on a budget.
The small secret to remember about hostels is that they often offer single rooms. In this way you are accommodated as at the hotel while enjoying the benefits of living in community clean hostels.
Now, you also have to find out a little bit before you book. I remember when I was traveling to Dublin I went through the HostelBookers website to see what people thought of this or that place. The hostel that received the best reviews was in a place I did not even know and the atmosphere was really great. In general, you will find reviews that are very detailed and true to reality.
You probably know if you’ve read me for a while, I only swear by Couchsurfing (take a look at my article).
The idea is very simple .; People around the world open their homes and offer “free” accommodation. Why would anyone agree to do that? And well for many people it is a way to broaden their horizon and meet new people who share the love of travel.
It’s not just about free hosting. The advantage of couchsurfing is to meet local people who will discover a region and offer you a different perspective than what you would have had as a “simple tourist”.
Couchsurfing is not dangerous … even if you are a woman! I meet many girls who do Couchsurfing and have never had any problems. What these girls usually do is to contact only people who have received positive reviews from their previous couchsurfers.
4) Use your favorite pastime to meet people
A site like MeetUp can be a very good tool. You will find many groups formed around the same passion, a sport or any other activity. So if you are a fan of trek you will find a group of locals to practice it. One of the quickest ways to meet new people is to share a common passion.
5) Learn a new activity
What if you have no passion to share? The trick is to try a specific activity in the area where you are located.
You can take language classes.
Learn to play Flamenco guitar.
Discover the Tuscan cuisine.
Or even put on “ceilidh dance” (Scottish dance) shoes and learn to let you go on the track like a Scottish.
Not only will you meet other people like you but you will also test new experiences. To start, I advise you to use your travel guide. Try to see what is special about the area you are visiting and then ask around who would be likely to give you classes.
6) The Pub Crawl
This advice is I think destined to the youngest of us. A good way to make friends quickly is to do a Pub Crawl. This consists of chaining 4 or 5 different bars in the same evening while making friends around a few drinks.
The hostels (and some hotels) are perfect places to start a tour of the bars. You will often see ads displayed at the front desk.
7) Participate in a tour package
Personally I have a rather snobbish attitude towards organized trips, but in some countries like Nepal it is much easier to enjoy using a tour package (based on the returns I have had ). There are many benefits to participating in this kind of “all inclusive” experience although this is not your thing. Basically you find yourself trapped with a band of travelers like you, so you are obliged to engage in conversation and start making friends.
8) Hiking and Free Tour
You do not need to leave so long to make friends. A hike of a few hours may suffice. All tourist places offer different forms of hiking. Sign up and be open to others. All you have to do is start a conversation as soon as the guide is not talking. Most people are open to discussion when there is nothing else to do or observe. I remember during my trip to Ireland, I had just arrived in Dublin . It was 10am, I had my bag on my back and I had to wait 18h to meet my host Couchsurfing who finished the job at that time.
In the street I saw a group waiting with a sign “Free tour”, I thought why not participate.
9) Become a Leader
One of the basic principles in human psychology is that people are always attracted to people who become leaders. So instead of waiting for things to happen, provoke them!
For example, imagine that you are in the hotel for a quiet evening. Instead of sticking to the TV, offer other guests a drink in the city. Or better yet, offer them a game of cards. This brings us to the tenth council …