How to make friends when travelling solo

A small group overlooking the ocean from the edge of a cliff at Cornwall.

So, you’re finally doing it, going on the solo trip you’ve been wanting to for ages? Yes, go you! I firmly believe it is one of the most empowering things you can do in life. You may be nervous about being lonely or not finding people or having to dine alone, so here are my top four tips for making friends whilst your out there “alone” in the big wide world.

Stay in hostels

Hostels are the best way to go if you are travelling solo but want to meet people. They are wallet friendly, chilled out, and often have awesome social spaces (think rooftops and bars). Hostels are also full of solo travellers so you will be amongst people in the same situation as you! If you are put off by the idea of sharing rooms many hostels offer private rooms, otherwise you can choose a room for anywhere from 4 to 20 or so people. In terms of quality and cleanliness, it’s easy to circumvent nasty surprises by only staying at really highly rated hostels. When you share a room with someone you will naturally say hi and strike up a conversation and it’s the same idea in the lounge, kitchen, or social spaces, there are going to be people around and you’ll be bound to interact.

Just say “Hi, where are you from?”

Okay, if you are naturally a little more shy or socially anxious this may be the hardest bit, but often someone else will initiate the conversation so that you don’t have to. If striking up a conversation is not easy for you, you will never go wrong with this line. Everyone is travelling, everyone is new, everyone has a story you’ve never heard. Everyone is interesting! If you start a conversation with this one question that everyone can answer the rest will naturally flow. Maybe you’ve visited their home country, somewhere else they’ve travelled, or maybe you play the same sport/instrument or whatever. Make the verbal move and the rest will no longer be uncomfortable.

Be generous

Generosity goes such a long way amongst travellers. This spans from sharing advice about cool places to visit, to sharing a packet of snacks you’ve just bought with others at your hostel, to buying someone a beer. Being nice is nice, and you appreciate kindness even more when it comes from a stranger. Whoever you treat will automatically think you are rad, and if it’s a drink you’ve bought them, they will usually get the next round. Even if they don’t, just look at it as an investment in humanity. It is good for the soul to give. Share the love.

Ask people to join you on a day trip

Maybe you are doing a tour and have a vehicle hired for the day you can fill with people? Ask around at the hostel if anyone wants to join! You all save money by splitting the costs, you’ll all get some awesome company, and whoever joins saves having to organise it themselves. Even if you are not doing a tour but just going by yourself to see a site, ask around if anyone is checking out the same thing that day and buddy up! It always helps if you’ve already struck up a convo earlier in the day/week but this is super normal amongst travellers and if you are positive and friendly, you’ll have companions in no time. Some hostels also offer day trips you can sign up for directly which tend to attract other solo travellers just like you.