Solo travel can be a revolutionary way to travel. Left to your own devices, you get to do what you want, when you want and how you want. There’s no more negotiating on when to call it a night, no more accommodating picky eaters and no missing out on underground places because it doesn’t fit into someone else’s plans. You’re the master of your own destiny, and there is zero compromise when it comes to your dream trip
However, that sense of freedom can wear off at times, and when reality starts to sink in – being alone, not un-ironically, can get a bit lonely. As a twin, I’m used to having another human constantly sharing their hilarious interpretations of the day’s events with me, so the fact that I must entertain myself while travelling solo with nothing more than my own thoughts can be enough to bring on the solo travel blues.
As humans, we’re (believe it or not) social creatures, and that means that we naturally thrive in the company of others, even if it’s for no other reason but to reassure us on why we Supertramp off into the wild alone. So, what to do if you’ve decided to embark on a journey solo but will need some human interactions, laughs and the chance to share a story along the way?
Try these seven tried and tested, ‘awkward-free’ ways to meet new people on your lone-ranger trip.
You’ll never travel alone with a free city walking tour
If you’ve been to any South American city, you’ll quickly discover that city tours are an absolute must for newcomers – and not just because they’re free (of course you should tip the guide a little something).
From Cartagena to Cordoba, they’re available in every major city popular with tourists and not surprisingly, the majority of the group is usually made up of solo travellers.
Taking place at least twice a day, they’re a fantastic way to explore the main sights, pick up a few local phrases (or a local), discover authentic off-the-beaten-track experiences, but most importantly, they’re an easy way to make friends with fellow travellers.
If you’ve ended up here on the same adventure, the chances are that you’ll have plenty of other things in common too and it may even lead to plans for a trip or two together!
Solo (Couch) Surfing in the USA
Not just restricted to the USA, Couchsurfing is one of the best ways to save on accommodation (it’s free) when travelling and one of the easiest ways to make local friends. The premise is simple; hosts open their couches or guest beds to visitors to their city in need of a roof over their head.
A lot less intensive than actual surfing but just as fun, couch surfing requires no core body strength. The best part of the experience is that it gives you an authentic insight into how the locals live, because, well, you’re living with a local. I, and other travellers, have made long-lasting friendships with our hosts and even their friends and family, and those friendships have become one of the highlights of the trip. For example, my Buenos-Aires host Martina, not only introduced me to a lot of Porteño practices and customs but learning her grandmother’s famous empanada recipe will always be the most memorable part of my Argentinean adventure.
Couchsurfing isn’t just limited to finding somewhere to sleep. The network encourages members to message local users who are interesting in meeting up and hanging out invite them to share in a common interest. So if you’re feeling a tad bored in a new city then find other members with which to put your language skills to the test, go to a gig or watch a film, it’s the perfect way to buddy up in a new city and see it through the eyes of a resident.
If you’re into the idea of indulging in a local foodie experience the rapidly growing platform EatWith allows local chefs to connect with strangers by hosting group dinner parties in their homes. Good food + good company = good times.
Use the power of the internet to meet awesome people
There are apps to help you find a nearby cuddle buddy, have a pirate tell you where you parked your car and even a translator to help you understand what the ghosts around you are saying.
We’re not recommending those kinds though; we’re recommending an app that lets you connect with other travellers who are nearby or heading to the same destination as you. Much more useful we think. Travello does all that, and then some. Allowing you to join groups that match your interests, find nearby travellers and discover meetups happening in your vicinity, Travello is the ultimate companion for solo travellers.
As we’re already discussing apps, it’s useful to know that swiping left and right has more uses than just getting you a date. Tinder has now evolved into a friend-making platform, as well as a dating one. As long as your profile makes clear that you’re only looking to make friends, you should be in the clear.
That thing you always wanted to do? Take a class, make friends
Ever wanted to learn how to surf, make macaroons, dance salsa or speak Spanish? Classes are an easy way to meet other people on your travels as well as picking up a new hobby or skill. Book lessons locally and you’re guaranteed both authenticity and a meeting with like minded people. You can either choose to pay for an official class through a local school or look for a free cultural exchange through a social network like Facebook or Meetup.
And what is Meetup exactly?
Boasting a community of more than 20 million members across 180 countries, the thriving social media platform Meetup says it all in its name – find people and meet up. An excellent way to connect with other people, its interface is designed to make sure you meet up with like-minded people getting rid of awkward intros and uncomfortable silences.
Find other users based on your interests, so if you’re club-hopping your way through Ibiza and need a time out because you’re craving a game of scrabble, you can find the few other people who have been itching for a triple-word-score as much as you have. And if you’re away from home for a special event, be it Christmas, New Year’s, Eid Al-Fitr, St. Patrick’s Day or Festivus, the site is brimming with events hosted by expats and other solo travellers looking for a taste of home on their travels.
Don’t be a lone wolf, sign up for a unique day trip and run with the pack
My travels through Latin America were all done independently, but now and then, to visit somewhere off the beaten track, I’d have to go out with a tour group on a day trip. Day trips are usually packed with other solo travellers, and I often ended up making friends with others on their own journeys. One particular explorer friendship I made under the Mexican sun lead to a joint and unforgettable adventure in Cuba! The lesson I learnt? Take all the opportunities you can and make the most of them. Well, that, and organised tours aren’t so bad.
I’ve been very blessed to be able to have a job that lets me work from anywhere in the world. Thank you, Internet! In fact, I’m typing this very article from the sunny shores of Australia’s cosmopolitan city of Brisbane. For other digital nomads like myself, renting a seat in a coworking space gives you the freedom to work from around the world, and at the same time connecting with other freelancers or entrepreneurs looking for reliable wi-fi and a hub to network with amicable professionals. Most spaces have communal social activities that allow you to both work and play; making it easier to make friends while earning. Positive wellbeing through the workplace, as well as a positive bank account.
Our flexible search options help you save money! If you’re particularly flexible on you solo travels, you should select the search option ‘Flex month’ on KAYAK. Simply sign in, click on flights, then click on ‘Show flexible dates‘ just underneath the ‘Search’ button. Hit ‘Flex month’, choose your earliest departure, how long you want to stay and see all the options!
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on May 17th, 2017. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.