Traveling on your own can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be intimidating. After all, how do you meet people on the road so you can travel solo without feeling alone? We know it’s the people you meet who really make a trip special, so we’ve got a few tried-and-true tips to help even first-time solo travelers strike up conversations with strangers and make new friends.
Sit at the Bar
If you visit a restaurant on your own, the waiter or waitress may ask if you’d like to take a single seat at the bar alongside other diners rather than sit at a larger table by yourself. We always recommend sitting at the bar as a solo traveler because odds are, you’ll end up in conversation with the diners on either side of you. They’ll often be locals happy to point out their favorite dishes on the menu or give you a list of their can’t-miss activities around town.
Take Public Transportation
Sure, taking the bus, subway, or streetcar is a great way to cut down on both your spending and your carbon footprint. But it can also be an easy way to meet locals. Bored commuters on their way home from work are often thrilled share their tips for what to do and see in their cities, so you’re likely to get some hidden gems in addition to a great conversation.
This one’s a no-brainer: taking your business to locally owned stores is the best way to find locals who are passionate about what they do and eager to share it with you. Visit a farmers’ market and we bet you’ll learn where the produce you’ll be eating tonight was grown. Stop by a local art gallery and you may just meet the artist and learn the story behind her photographs.
Join a Meetup
Just log onto Meetup.com, enter your interests and location, and boom! You’ll be matched with groups of people who gather regularly to do exactly what you like to do. Whether you’re into eating ramen, hiking, or discussing novels, there’s probably a group for you.
Put Your Phone Away
We know this one’s tough, especially when you’ve got all those travel photos to post to Instagram and friends to Skype back home. As much as we all do it, burying your face in a phone is a signal that you’re not interested in talking to anyone. Give your eyes a break from the screen and see who’s around to talk to in real life.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to meet interesting people, whether you’re at home or on the road. Even if you’re only visiting a new city for a few days, there are often volunteer opportunities that don’t require a lot of time or commitment. Whether it’s helping out at a beach clean-up, gardening in a national park, or lending a hand at a soup kitchen, just a few hours of your time can go a long way towards helping out the local community and putting you face-to-face with other like-minded people.
Take a Class
Whether it’s at the yoga studio down the street or the cooking school across town, taking a class in whatever interests you is a great way to meet locals and travelers alike. As a bonus, you’ll also leave with a new skill or memory that makes for an unforgettable souvenir from your trip.
Stay at a Hostel
Seasoned solo travelers will tell you this is hands-down the absolute best way to make new friends on the road. You’ll share spaces with fellow travelers from around the world, join walking tours and pub crawls with them, and share endless travel stories. You’ll be amazed how quickly you get close to the people you meet in hostels, and next time you travel, you may end up going to visit them in their home country.
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The People You Meet While Hostelling in the United States
Viewed as a hub for community rather than just a place to rest for the night, HI USA hostels have evolved into cultural centers for the towns they represent. Each traveler that visits influences the vibe of the hostel by coming together to create experiences.