Meeting people while traveling solo
Updated: Jul 24
Going to a new place on your own can be intimidating but, unless you're going to the Arctic, you can bet there will always be people at your destination. Whether that's a comfort to you or not, here are some tips for socializing when traveling alone.
Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation
Listen, people love compliments. Many of the conversations I've had with strangers have started something like "Hi! I really love those pants, they look great on you." Then, they'll likely throw a compliment your way and the conversation may continue from there. If it doesn't, don't be afraid to try again with someone new!
Alternatively, someone may approach you first. In that case, keep the conversation going with some questions or sharing a bit about yourself. Always be mindful of how much you share when talking to a stranger – just use your best judgement.
If you're in a conversation that you'd like to exit, use friends or family as an excuse – "Oh sorry, I promised to meet my sister back at our table." No one has to know you're traveling solo.
You don't need to stay in hostels to meet people
Hostel life isn't for everyone and that's okay! While some social hostels create events and have communal meals to foster connections, it's not the only way to socialize.
Bars and pubs are a great place to start because people are relaxed, enjoying a drink, and likely already having conversations. Use the compliment method here!
Chances are, you are not the only tourist (or traveler, or whatever term you prefer) at your destination. Tours are full of people just like you – visiting a new place for the first time and maybe feeling nervous to interact with other people. You just might find another solo traveler looking for some companionship.
Tour cancelations can also be a bonding experience. On a solo trip I took to Iceland, all the tours were canceled due to inclement weather, leaving a lobby full of travelers trying to figure out their next move. I ended up meeting a group of three who were meant to be on my tour, and together we rented a car and visited the spots ourselves!
What if you're visiting a country where you don't speak the language?
First, if you're traveling to a place where you don't speak the language, always do some research beforehand to have a few words and phrases in your back pocket (or on google translate).
Second, there's more to communicating than just words. If you can at least manage a greeting and say that you're traveling from *your country,* the other person may take the lead and invite you to join their group. If you're just looking for some dancing partners while out in the club, talking can be quite difficult anyway.
Use body language to appear open to conversations. This could look like having your arms uncrossed and facing the room, instead of appearing closed off in a corner. It might also help you feel less awkward to have something in your hand, like a drink.
Tip! When I go out to a bar or club, I'll often buy a drink and challenge myself to stay there until I finish it. If I finish it before having a good conversation, it's time to move on to the next place.
Finally, you may be surprised to find someone who does speak your language! Cities like Porto and Brussels pride themselves on being welcoming to all, meaning if one person can't speak your language, they'll find someone who can!
Solo travel can stay solo
The best company you can have is yourself. Remember, you're traveling solo for a reason! Whether it's by choice or just because no one else was able to come along, take this time to connect with yourself. You're all you need to have a good time.