I started to think about writing this article while I was searching for accommodation as a solo traveller. So, while I was doing some research I started to write Making Friends On The Road – The Ultimate Best Solo Traveler’s Guide.“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are!” Click To Tweet
Travelling solo can be a great adventure. If you travel alone, you’ll get to know yourself better and follow your own schedule. But, when you travel alone, it is not always easy to start a conversation with a stranger, a local or another tourist, especially if you are an introvert. Maybe you are wondering how do you get to know another solo traveller or some local residents? And, if you are looking to make a friend, or something more, how can you protect yourself from impostors, those who are not honest and who might have malicious intentions?
But, before we start, it is good to understand that you will be rewarded for overcoming the worries of approaching someone new on your trip. It is not easy, but imagine how can it become a beautiful friendship if that person will say yes to your connection. Almost every person will accept an invitation to a nice cup of coffee or tea.
If you do not know where you can find such pleasant connections, look at the experienced solo travellers. They say that all their connection were made on the trains, plains, buses, parks, bars, museums, walking groups, hiking groups and some of them, states that they even found some friendly connection doing some charities events.
So if you are putting off taking a vacation because you’re in between relationships or your friends used up their vacation days for the year then try solo travel as it may be less lonely than you think.
While there are times when you want to enjoy your own company, it would be easier to socialise with others when you’re on the road. Whatever your destination or budget, try these suggestions for making new friends on your next trip and staying in touch after you return home. If you’ve been holding back, these tips will make it easier for you to head out alone.
Continue reading to learn how to make friends on the road, following the ultimate best solo traveller’s guide.
Planning Your Trip Checklist
1. Skip chain hotels. Major hotels make sense for business travellers who need efficiency, but you’ll probably meet a wider range of personalities if you choose alternative accommodations. You can try Airbnb, hostels, and, B&B and family inns.
As an online marketplace, Airbnb connects people that want to rent out their houses with people who are searching for a place to stay in their travels. At the moment it covers more than 80,000 cities. There are some advantages and disadvantages. As an example, for the hosts, it is an easy way to make some extra money but at the same time, they risk that the guests might damage the property. As well as for the guest’s can’t find really inexpensive places to stay but with a risk of the property to not be as the listing made it seem.
With HotelLook you can find and compare global hotel prices from leading hotel reservation systems. HotelLook was founded in 2013 by the largest flight search engine in Russia – AviaSales.ru. Hotel look offers an overview of more than 250,000 hotels in 205 countries that work with more than 10 online reservation systems such as Booking.com, Agoda.com, Hotels.com and Expedia. The main purpose of the Hotel Look is to make your trip not only exciting and full of exciting adventures, but also inexpensive.
The best site to search for a B&B is Booking.com. I have personally used it, and so far I have no negative feedback for the site. With Booking.com you can search in 43 languages and it offers more than 28 million reported accommodation listing.
2. Study the language. You can learn basic phrases even if you lack the time to become fluent. Most locals will appreciate you making an effort. There is some app that can help you with that. Just do some research on google and find the best app for you. There are many apps out there, I can think of so many, but I have found that doing some research on google helped me to choose the best app for me to learn some phrases. So go on and choose the best for you.
3. Use an app. A growing number of apps will let you use your phone to find a travel companion and coordinate arrangements. A few popular options include Backpackr, Travello, and Tourlina, which is exclusively for women. Whether you’re travelling solo or in a group, these apps a great way to meet nearby travellers. Browse through numerous profiles and message the people you want to meet. Grab a beer, or see the sites the city has to offer, it’s up to you. The opportunities are endless.
4. Volunteer your time. Create an instant community by signing up for a group service project. Browse the listings at sites like Workaway that often provide free board in return for your time or contact a charity you already support to discuss their programs.
5. Contact a local. You might feel more secure having someone ready to greet you when you arrive. Ask family and friends if they know anyone at your destination or check for local members of organisations to which you belong. Set up a lunch or coffee date if they’re available.
6. Post on Facebook. Share your itinerary with your social media friends. They may send suggestions for who to meet or things to do.
Taking Your Trip
1. Be flexible. Resolve to talk with strangers, meaning locals and other tourists, and try new activities. Be prepared to change your daily schedule if someone suggests something interesting.
2. Eat out. Sharing food encourages conversation. Ask to be seated at the bar instead of at a private table. Invite others to join you for meals or buy street food you can take to a park bench.
3. Pursue your interests. Meet others who share your passions. Look up local Meetup groups or check community calendars for wine tastings or scuba diving lessons.
4. Play a game. Bring along a deck of cards or a miniature magnetic board game. Your fellow travellers may be grateful for the entertainment on long train and bus rides.
5. Ask questions. It’s natural to be curious when you’re visiting an unfamiliar place. Ask locals or more seasoned travellers for their recommendations. Invite others to talk about themselves and their experiences.
6. Take a tour. If you still have more solitary time than you like or you’re tired of arranging your own itinerary, let a tour guide take over for a while. Most cities will have walking tours for various museums, monuments, and neighbourhoods.
7. Collect contact information. When you meet someone that you want to stay in touch with, be sure to ask for their details before you move on. You might continue an online relationship or show them around if they come to visit where you live.
8. Stay safe. While many fellow travellers and locals will be sincere and helpful, it’s important to stay alert when you’re far from home. Protect your valuables, meet in public spaces, and leave if anything makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you keep an open mind, you’ll discover plenty of opportunities to make new travel buddies anywhere you go. Connecting with others will enrich your travel experience whether your paths cross briefly or you become lasting friends.
Security is an important concern for any traveller. Some basic precautions will reduce your risks.
1. Blend in. Looking like a tourist may leave you vulnerable. Walk with confidence and step inside a hotel to check your map.
2. Be alert. Observe what’s going on around you. Ask your hotel to advise you about where it’s safe to walk. If you’re near an unsafe area, avoid unnecessary risks by taking a cab to your destination.
3. Watch your money. You may want to wear a shoulder bag strapped across your body or under a coat. Consider using a money belt or clip. Solo travellers are often the perfect target for pickpockets.
4. Assess your fluency. Language skills also matter. Ask yourself if you can communicate clearly in case of a medical emergency.
5. Gather your documents. Put a copy of your identification and health insurance in your pocket. Leave a second copy with loved ones at home.
6. Check-in at home. Speaking of home, give your full itinerary to at least one person. Call or text them every few days to let them know you’re okay. There have been way too many instances of travellers disappearing on a trip and nobody realises it for quite some time.
7. Pack light. Leave your valuables at home. Travelling with minimal baggage increases your comfort and your ability to move quickly.
Sticking to Your Budget
You may run into what’s called “single supplements” on cruises and tours. This is when the venue charges single travellers extra to try and make up for the lack of a second customer. Still, there are plenty of ways to vacation affordably on your own.
1. Save up in advance. Put money aside gradually. Small amounts add up over time.
2. Be flexible about timing. You’ll tend to find the best deals at the last minute or several months before your departure. Be open to travelling during the off-season for further monetary savings.
3. Look for special bargains. Check discount travel sites as Booking.com or Kayak and look for deals. Some venues may even be willing to waive the single supplement.
4. Accept roommates. Contact travel companies who specialise in solo travel. Ask to be paired up with another single traveller who is headed to your same destination.
Be prepared and go for the adventure of a lifetime. Spend a whole week at a pumpkin festival or browse the Louvre at your own pace. Avoid being intimidated by the thought of travelling alone. Solo travel creates memories you’ll treasure for life.
Some Tips For Women Traveling Alone
If you are a woman travelling alone, you need to check the rules in the country you will be visiting.
Each country and culture has their own views of what is appropriate behaviour for women. Although you may not agree with these views, it is wise to abide by the local laws and customs to avoid problems. Please become familiar with the laws and customs of the places where you wish to go, so your trip will go smoothly.
Here are two examples of situations you may encounter:
It is illegal in Laos to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to one’s hotel room.
Foreigners in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in the past for “improper dress.”
Women travelling alone can be more vulnerable to problems in certain cultures. Keeping in mind the above information can help make your trip as safe and rewarding as possible.
Preparing for your trip
Passports & Visas – Make sure your passport is still valid or apply for a new one long before you plan to travel. Make sure you have the right travel documents and visas for your destinations.
Your Destinations – Make an effort to learn about the locations you plan to visit, their culture, and any problems that might be occurring there.
Many exciting and exotic destinations may have very conservative views about women.
Being a foreigner makes you stand out; a woman travelling alone can be even more of an oddity in some places.
What to Leave Behind – Leave a detailed itinerary and a copy of your passport’s identification page with a friend or relative at home. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers where you will be staying. Leave a copy of your flight and ticket information with them as well.
You may wish to establish a certain check-in dates when you will either call, e-mail, fax, etc. to let someone know that you are all right. But remember that if you happen to miss a check-in, your loved ones may assume that you are having a problem or are in trouble. So make sure you make arrangements for different possibilities.
Leave any valuables, extra credit cards and jewellery – even fake jewellery – at home.
Thieves often won’t know the real from the fake until after they take it, so why risk your personal safety?
Health – Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while abroad and that your coverage includes medical evacuations. Your policy might not cover you overseas and you may need to purchase traveller’s insurance. Make sure you are choosing the best options for you.
If you have any condition that might develop complications- especially if you are pregnant, check with your doctor before you go abroad. If you experience complications, a medical evacuation might still take several precious hours to arrange.
If you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last the duration of the trip, including extra medication in case you are delayed. Always carry your prescriptions in their labelled containers as many countries have strict anti-trafficking laws and might be suspicious of pills in unlabelled bottles. Bring your prescription information and the names of their generic equivalents with you just in case.
Off you go
Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for someone to double-check for you to see if it all safe. Display confidence. By looking and acting as if you know where you’re going, you may be able to ward off some potential danger.
Ask for directions before you set out. No matter how modest your lodgings are, your hotel concierge or other hotel staff should be able to help. If you find yourself lost, do not be afraid to ask for directions. Generally, the safest people to ask are families or women with children. Getting the right information may save you from ending up in a potentially unsafe area.
Hotels – Choose a hotel where security is good and transportation is readily available and nearby. Check that all the doors and windows in your room have locks and that they work. If you feel uncomfortable, ask hotel security to escort you to and from parking lots or your room at night. Always use your peephole and common sense about letting strangers into your room.
Clothing – There is no doubt that fashion makes a statement. Unfortunately, not everyone will interpret how you dress the same way you would. What you consider casual clothing might be seen as provocative or inappropriate in other cultures. Thieves might choose you over another potential target based on your style of dress or the amount of makeup or jewellery you are wearing. Other might single you out for harassment or even physical violence because they find your clothing offensive, based on their cultural norms. By taking your cues from local women, or at least by dressing conservatively, you could save yourself a great deal of trouble.
Use common sense, do your homework before you go, and have a safe and fun trip.“Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life-changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!” Click To Tweet
Do more than read these tips. Take them and apply them. Not only people new to the wilderness but experienced outdoorsmen too have paid the ultimate price when they forgot or refused to follow the basic rules of wilderness travel.
As it was mentioned a lot earlier there are countries and cultures where women are treated differently, therefore they are expected to dress and/or behave in a certain way, therefore, it is not only safe but also polite to respect other’s culture, as each of us would appreciate our culture to be respected. So be nice, be considerate and behave.
Although, some of the phrases above might seem more of a warning than tips, do not get put off by them. They are only suggesting ways for you to stay safe, to prevent any inconveniences. It does not mean that something bad will happen on the trip because you are a solo traveller. The same things apply even for those travelling as a couple or in a group.
Prevention is good. Make sure you tick all the boxes, that you know what you are doing and go explore. Enjoy being alive!
Go and make unforgettable memories.
❗Please, if you like what you have read, share the article so other people can benefit from it❗
Until next time
Oana & Paula