5 ways to spark new friendships if you’re travelling solo
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Ask anybody who has been, and they’ll say that one of the best bits about travelling is the incredible people you’ll meet along the way as you explore the world and immerse yourself in different cultures.
But if you’re travelling solo, sparking new friendships might feel a bit daunting and difficult, especially if you’ve never been backpacking before or you’re a bit of an introvert.
Whatever your reasons, there are some very easy ways that you can meet people and make new friends if you’re travelling solo. Here are my top five tips to spark new friendships when you’re a solo traveller…
Stay in hostels
First things first, the accommodation you choose when you’re away on your travelling trip is going to make the world of difference when it comes to making friends.
If you’re happy travelling around on your own, then, by all means, choose long stays in Airbnbs and fancy rooms in hotels. But if you want a really easy way to make new friends, then you definitely need to stay in hostels.
Hostels are perfect for socialising — and there’s a hostel for every type of traveller and personality. Downloading the Hostelworld app is a must; basically every hostel in the world is listed on there, and you can get a feel for the vibe of a hostel easily, helping you decide between mad party hostels and more laidback guesthouses.
Hanging out in common areas is a great way to meet other travellers (lots of whom will be travelling solo too), whether you’re chatting over breakfast about your plans for the day, or making friends with a beer at the hostel bar. You’ll start to see the same people around more, spark new friendships and make plans together before you know it!
Bring a pack of cards
Striking up conversations with complete strangers can be pretty daunting at times — especially when you’re travelling solo without the back-up of a travel buddy. But that’s where a pack of cards comes in handy!
There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned card game to break the ice at a new hostel. It’s easy to get people involved and get everyone chatting without the awkwardness of rummaging around for a new topic to talk about.
Plus, cards are pretty versatile — simultaneously perfect for a chilled afternoon game of Rummy, a poker night with your new travel buddies, and for playing drinking games like Ring of Fire before you head out on a big bar crawl with your new friends.
The beauty of card games is that they’re relatively universal too (though perhaps with some slight variations across different regions), which means that they can often help you transcend any tricky linguistic barriers with your new mates.
However, you might want to brush up on your card game knowledge if you’re feeling rusty. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful guides online — like the one by OnlineCasinos.co.uk on how to play pineapple poker — where you can get a quick overview of the game and basic rules, helping you to swerve any embarrassing situations.
Be spontaneous and say yes!
Forging new friendships when you’re travelling isn’t something you can always plan; sometimes the best friends and memories are made when you least expect them.
You’re going to have to be brave! You can’t plan every second of your trip, being spontaneous and open to new experiences means you won’t miss out on opportunities to make new friends.
It’s always going to be a bit daunting travelling solo, but you’ll make countless amazing memories and friends along the way by stepping out of your comfort zone and saying yes to things.
If you get chatting to someone cool and they invite you to their next group trip to the beach, say yes! If you’ve been making friends at your hostel and they’re headed out on a fun bar crawl and you don’t have any plans, why not go with them?
Just remember to be safe as a solo traveller and use your common sense when it comes to hanging out with new people; stay in larger groups, don’t go to secluded places with someone you’ve just met, and trust your gut.
Sign up for activities
Any decent hostel you stay in won’t just provide a bed for the night and a coffee in the morning; good ones also organise plenty of activities and excursions for visitors or will at least suggest things to do in the local area.
So whether it’s barbecues, walking tours, bar crawls, karaoke nights, volunteering opportunities, adventure sports or salsa classes, there’s usually plenty to be getting on with.
Organised hostel activities are an easy way to get people together and perfect if you’re a solo traveller looking to make friends. Chances are that you’ll be joined by like-minded travellers with common interests, too — which means you’re more like to get on with people and make more meaningful connections.
Try out some travel apps
You don’t just have to rely on your hostel for plenty of pre-organised activities either. Thanks to the recent emergence of travel apps, finding new friends while travelling just got a whole lot easier.
There are some fantastic (and free) travel apps out there like Travello and SoloTraveller that will connect you with other nearby explorers who have similar interests and itineraries, as well as allowing you to match travel plans and join groups that match your interests.
Tourlina is another brilliant app that is aimed at women travelling solo who want to connect safely and easily with other women. It’s almost like a platonic Tinder where you can swipe on potential travel buddies based on things like interests and itineraries; once you’ve matched, you can get planning and chatting with your new travel friend!
It’s a great concept for female travellers who feel a bit nervous travelling solo and would prefer some female company along the way. You can even meet up with local women who can show you the best beaches and bars at your new destination.
Making friends while you’re travelling solo might feel daunting to start with, but there are many different ways you can meet people and make friends. So if you’re heading off on a big backpacking adventure soon, try following some of the tips above. And above all else, be yourself, be brave and be spontaneous!