How to make friends whilst travelling the world
Travelling around the world solo can get lonely from time to time. Seeing sights and exploring places you always dreamed of going is amazing, but sometimes, it is really nice to share those moments with others on the road. I travelled solo for one year, and met some incredible people; some were people I hung out with for a day, or a few hours, others were people that became lifelong friends, who four years later, I hold as some of my most important friendships.
Of course, there are the old-fashioned ways of meeting new people. Hostels are a great place to find likeminded people traversing the world. A cold beer or glass of wine at the hostel bar, or chatting to the budget traveller sharing a dorm room with you is a great way to get to know someone.
Dorm rooms are perfect places to meet new people. Although having a private room for some peace and quiet is great, you will only isolate yourself from potential fun. Thanks to the layout of a dorm it is very easy to begin a conversation with a fellow intrepid traveller on a journey of a lifetime. You may even find out you are going to the same places. And just like that, you have a new travel buddy joining you.
I know it may be daunting at first to walk into a hostel bar full of people, that perhaps have already started to form friendships (kind of like your first day at school), but don’t let that put you off. If you join in on hostel activities, which there are normally a lot of, then you’ll be sure to meet some amazing travellers. There were so many times when I was travelling, especially when arriving somewhere new, that I was tired and just wanted to chill out on my bunk in my dorm. The idea of having to make an effort to speak to people, after 12 months of travelling can be a little exhausting, but being the social butterfly that I am, I pushed myself to interact and include myself, and the results were always worth it. I mean who doesn’t want to meet interesting, open, warm, intelligent, engaging people whilst travelling?!.
There's an app for that!
In the modern day there are plenty of other great ways to make contact with people travelling the same roads as you. There are a variety of great apps that can help you find great places to visit while staying in a city, or help you meet cool new people.
If you are looking for great places to drink and socialise, the Party with a Local app is the best choice. This app connects you with locals living in the city. It is perfect for anyone that wants to be shown around to great nightlife by someone that knows all about it. One of the great things about this app is the person or people you connect with can show you to the coolest bars and clubs that other tourists don't know about.
Another fun app to download before or during your trip is the Travel Buddies app. This app allows you to share itineraries and other information with app users. Due to the ability to share, you can see where other people are or vice versa. Tripr is another great app that helps connect travellers that have descended on the same city.
Meanwhile, there are also dating apps like Tinder that can help you connect with people of the opposite sex while travelling.
These apps help make life simpler and more convenient on the road. And the best part is you can find new friends once you set off for the next city or country, or even ahead of time, if it makes you more comfortable to feel that someone you know, or will get to know is in the place you’re travelling too next.
One way to meet new people while exploring is to join a tour. Of course, you can venture around a monument or ancient city alone, but where is the fun in that? By joining a tour, you give yourself the chance to speak to others and engage with travellers that want to make friends too. A tour can also take away the monotony of doing the same thing day after day, if that is starting to get you down. Free walking tours are EVERYWHERE, no expense, just a great way to meet new people who have a similar agenda to you. Linking back to hostels, being the number one place to meet people – a lot of them do their own free tours. I went on a day tour with my hostel around New York City. It was my 5th visit to the city, but my favourite day, as I met so many great people, and got shown places off the beaten tourist trail.
Get out there
If you have decided to stay in one place for a lengthy period of time, it is good to have a routine. Perhaps the coffee shop down the street is your everyday hangout or the bar on the corner is the place you drink beer in at night. Being a regular in these places can help you make friends, and if you see someone over and over again, then start a conversation. Chances are they may be a curious traveller as well.
Along with starting a routine at local shops, bars and restaurants, why not look online for any upcoming events that are of interest? There are websites dedicated to posting meetups for people, and these can connect you with cool travellers or locals.
Join a club or take a class
If you plan to stay in one place for a little while, you might think about joining a local club or team. In many cities around the world you can find sports teams or other clubs set up by expats.
A language class is another great place to make new friends. If you are staying in Italy, why not sign up for an Italian class? You can meet a variety of people learning the language and new friendships can be formed. You can even communicate in Italian with your new buds.
Many travellers like to get involved while on a long excursion around the world. Volunteering is a way to give back to a local community after you have seen all of its amazing sites. It is also a way to meet new people. Volunteering isn't for everyone and if you find someone as selfless as yourself, you may well hit it off. Workaway is a fantastic way to immerse yourself into volunteering, meet new people, give back and learn new skills. This is something I’m really going to take advantage of, when I set off on my next long term trip. The opportunities are endless, and who knows you may end up meeting a new best friend, or even a lover.
Have a flexible schedule
When travelling solo you can set out your schedule however you choose. If you want to make new friends and travel together, it is advisable to make your schedule a bit flexible. In some cases this cannot work, but at other times you can move some things around to allow you and your new travel buddys to spend some time together. When I was travelling to Laos, I met an incredible group of people, and we came together from all corners of the world. I ended up changing travel plans so we could all spend Songkran together (the Thai new year festival) in Bangkok, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced whilst travelling. Be flexible and open minded to new ideas and suggestions of places to visit – it’s the only way.
Social media is everywhere today and there are a plethora of apps that can connect you to people around the world. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the three largest, but there are other apps you can download that can help you meet people.
Have a great selfie of yourself on the beach in Bali? Post it with a hashtag and maybe you will get contacted by a likeminded traveller. Send out a tweet on Twitter and you could have someone meeting up with you for a beer in a great Hong Kong bar.
Travelling around the world can be a trip of a lifetime, but it can also be a time that you need someone to talk to. By adopting these ideas, you will never be alone on the road unless you simply choose to be.
Hayley heads up the site, Map MyAdventure. She's originally a London girl, but has lived and worked in the Maldives, Thailand and Australia, after leaving behind her 10 year career in Corporate Banking for her passion for travel. She is obsessed with the ocean & not so secretly wishes she was a mermaid. You'll find her doing what she loves; exploring beautiful places.