This is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to solo travel and albeit a totally valid concern! So many people are making the jump and deciding to go it alone in their travels, but one of their biggest fears before leaving is that they won’t make any friends once they’re out there.
But don’t worry! I, too, had this concern before my first few trips, constantly thinking “but what if there is no-one to talk to?” “but what if there is no-one my age?” “but how do I make conversation with a stranger?” and it is honestly nothing to fret about. I’m here to put you at ease and tell you that you will have no problems at all making new friends, but have a read of my top tips below on how to make friends with strangers on your travels to truly put your mind at rest.
1. Be open to all types of people
When people tell you not to worry because you will meet like-minded others on your travels – they are 100% correct. You have all chosen to go to the same country, the same city, the same hostel with the same expectations of seeing and experiencing the same things. You already have a lot in common with the people you meet along your travels, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all going to fit a stereotype that you might have created in your mind. So be open to people who are both older and younger than you and be open to people from different walks of life – because you’re going to meet a lot of them! But that’s a fantastic thing because forming relationships with people who are unique from yourself will enrich your life and you can learn from each other.
2. Stay in hostels (even if only for a little bit)
This was my stumbling block to begin with because I’m such a clean bean and I hated the thought of sharing a room with 12 smelly strangers! But in reality I’ve never had an experience even close to that. I just make sure to research my hostels beforehand and spend time looking at their ratings. I’ve also learnt to choose my type of hostel based on the experience that I want, for example it is clear that the more sociable/party type hostels will be those that are advertising social nights out etc, whereas those that promote peace and calm are obviously going to be quieter. The reviews that other people have left can also tell you a lot about the place – often moreso than the actual website does! But if you’re still uncertain, the best thing you can do is to approach hostel stays with an open mind – they truly are the best way to meet people.
3. Make an effort from Day 1
Okay so you’ve just arrived at your hostel and you’re jet-lagged and tired as hell and all you want to do is sleep. My piece of advice? Don’t do it! At least not immediately. Make an effort to say your hellos and to introduce yourself first so that people know who you are and then when you do go to bed you’ll be at peace knowing that you’ve already met a few friendly faces! Additionally, if you’re feeling up to it you should make efforts to go to a social gathering or two that may be organised by your hostel/people in your hostel.
4. Find common ground
It isn’t difficult to strike up conversation when you discover common interests, but what you don’t realise is that you already have a lot in common with the people you meet on your travels. Evidently you both like travel and that in itself holds an endless stream of conversation topics. Find out where the other person has been and where they’re going, find out what they’re doing in the city that you’re both in and what plans they have whilst they’re there, find out if they have any funny stories and share with them your own. Straight away you have a ton of questions that you can ask a person based on one topic! You’ll be making friends in no time.
5. Be a do-er
Be the person who strikes up conversation with the couple on the same walking tour as you or the girl serving your coffee. Say hello at breakfast and don’t be afraid to ask people in your hostel if you can tag-along with them to the bar that evening. People are usually so happy and free-spirited on travels, high chances are they’re going to say yes!
Do you have any tips of your own?
Which of these approaches to making friends might you try?