You are already using dating apps at home like Tinder or desktop services like online dating site Cupid on desktop, to meet new people, so why not do the same to meet people when traveling alone? Here are some ideas I have found useful, or seen others find useful, to make friends when on the road.
1. Hostel bars
I have never been a hostel person myself and I feel that now, in my 30s, I have probably missed the train. However, hostel bars are always great places to make friends, whether you stay there or not. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, many people will be traveling alone and the prices are affordable for a few drinks in good company. Don’t be shy, simply join in, chances are anyone there will be open to a conversation. And check their event schedules, there are usually lots of social happenings at hostels.
Not one for hostels? I found bars in general, not at night but at sunset or in the evening, a great place to meet people. In American Samoa I was approached by someone every night. And I am not referring to sleazy men trying to hit on me but to local girls, families, older couples and girlfriends who, seeing me alone, wanted to invite me to join them or to come to their house for Sunday church. Hotel lobby bars are also a winning formula. Find other guests staying alone or chat to the bartender, this proved to be a great way to get the local recommendations for the most authentic food in Puerto Vallarta.
2. Local group tours
When I travel solo I have always found group tours are a great way to meet people. When I was in Vanuatu I met an Australian girl also traveling alone with whom I befriended and then went onto other adventures. This also allowed us to split the cost of car rentals and also allowed for some company in the otherwise lonely roads of Efate. Bonus points if you join a local free walking tour where you may also meet locals. Check the local tourism office websites for more details or just simply do a Google search.
3. Local stays
This could be a bit of a hit and miss, but Couchsurfing, pre-Airbnb days, used to be a great way to meet locals. I hosted a friendly girl from Venezuela and we still keep in touch. Many people have great experiences staying for free at people’s homes whose only interest was to meet travelers and share their culture. Nowadays, a less awkward way to do that is to simply book an Airbnb room at a local host’s house. Read the reviews for Hosts who are friendly and happy to show you around or talk to you.
4. Your friends who live in…
Did you know that you can type “My friends who live in [name of the city]” on the Facebook search bar and it will give you just that? I often lose track of my friends’ whereabouts. I travel a lot, they travel a lot and I never know where they are anymore, so this search helps to narrow that down. Then, of course, before I take off, I do post on Facebook that I am traveling somewhere, usually at the airport as a check-in, and that has often prompted some other serendipitous encounters with friends traveling to the same destination.
5. Meet up
This is the new Internations mixed in with all other meeting tools. Search for your location and for the meetings that match your preferences and join in. It does require that you talk to complete strangers but there are many Meetup groups where the host will be friendly and make sure strangers and newbies are welcomed so you can always look out for him or her to introduce you to a few people to get things started.
6. Facebook groups
There are multitude of Facebook groups that are there to link people up who like to travel. As I am a travel blogger, I am a member of many. Here are a few good ones. Girls vs. Globe is good for women, whether you are a blogger or not. The community is uber supportive and you can ask for tips or see if others want to travel where you want to go or are based where you are traveling to. There is also Girls LOVE Travel. Some for budget travelers. Just join the group and then post away!
TravBuddy (ceased operations in April 2018)
Well yes, this is a website set up for just this: finding a travel buddy. A bit more longer term but you can also post a notice to find someone for an afternoon. Requires more planning but also gives you more of a chance to find the right fit.
Remember to Pin this post for your future travels.