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How to Make Friends When Travelling Alone

Tips & Tricks from 4 previous solo adventures

If anyone asks me to describe myself, I definitely would put myself into the category of extroverted. I could essentially talk to a rock on the bottom of the ocean if the situation called for it. So technically, it should be a breeze for me to be absolutely comfortable meeting strangers and making friends whilst travelling, right?


Well, no… I’m really comfortable to continue a conversation and fill in the uncomfortable silences but actually approaching someone in the hopes of making friends gives me butterflies.


If you have read my Contiki post, you would know that I decided to do that trip alone. That was my first experience with having to go out of my way to approach people and make friends.


Without further ado, here are my top tips to overcoming the anxiety that comes with the ‘Will I be lonely traveling alone and what if I don’t make friends’ questions that start to get voice-y close to departure day.


In a hostel

Hostels definitely have unique advantages because it's definitely more fair game

  • Introduce yourself to your roommates/bunkmates

  • If you are heading out for dinner/drinks alone ask if they want to join – no harm in asking the question

  • If you are in the kitchen/dining space just start up a conversation with a person cooking or sitting alone at the table.

Basic introductions are best: 

Why you are travelling?

How long you have been in ___ *insert destination*? 

Where you are off to next?

 This will give you things in common and you can continue the conversation from there.

Reminder: Most people choose to stay in hostels for the social aspect so 93% of people are really friendly and happy to have a chat, the rest are either hungover or just a wet sock who you wouldn’t want to talk to anyway.


In a bar

I have always had to overcome crazy anxiety going out to a bar, just because I feel silly being alone. But then once I do it, I have a great time and can’t believe I overthought it for so long! Obviously please be super cautious, trusting but not naïve.

  • Most of the time I go somewhere that has dinner options but also a younger crowd that may go for drinks on their way ‘out out’, big cities are good for this.

  • Hostel bars are my absolute friend because most of the people are also there alone or have just met the person they are talking to and are more friendly and welcoming to randoms. PLUS, they all have hefty drinks discounts which is always a good bonus when travelling for an extended period.

  • If I am dining alone I either take a book along with me, plan my next part of what I want to see/do if there is Wi-Fi or sit at the bar. I have had some amazing conversations with bored bartenders who give great local recommendations.


In a café

Probably not the world’s easiest place to strike up a conversation but achievable none the less

  • Start coffee counter chats with other waiting customers, you may get some local advice of a great secret location- who knows.

  • If you spot someone sitting down with a guidebook, a camera or any other give away tourist items try and pick a table close by.

  • Turn and say something about the fact that they are clearly travelling but make sure that you wait to be invited to sit with them.

I once started chatting to a girl as we were both waiting for iced mocha’s and we ended up spending 4 hours walking around Toronto joining the plans we had originally made individually for the afternoon. Then I never saw her again 🤣 #travellife


At a photo highlight

Ah, one of my favourites. It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you are at a tourist giant i.e. statue of liberty, CNN tower, Lake Louise, Granville island a very solid portion of people you come across are also travellers.

  • Photos are the easiest idea! Ask someone if they can take a picture of you in front of X destination then you return the favour, INSTANT FRIENDS!! Just kidding, but maybe?  


At an airport

Depending on the reason for flying, most people are a nice mix of happy & nervous when they are waiting for their flight.

  • Most of the seating areas are common, choose a spot near someone who you think you would like to get to know

  • I have also made friends through watching people’s stuff whilst they go get water etc. * I certainly wouldn’t go trusting a stranger with your laptop.

  • Charging points are also a good spot because you literally are attached to a wall for an extended time whilst your device charges so it’s a good time to turn and say hello to your new neighbour.


There is also the option of joining facebook groups like Female Travel Group, The Solo Female traveller network & Global travellers by Where’s Mollie that you can join and put up a post saying that you will be in a particular location & does someone want to get coffee/wines. 


Overall, just remember to be authentically yourself when you start talking to someone. People appreciate genuine conversation.

Smile and make yourself approachable, if you are sitting there with a sour look on your face and your headphones on, they will skip right on past you.

Ask them questions as well to try and get to know them.

Biggest thing is to just bite the bullet and say hello. What’s the worst that can happen?


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