Traveling solo is scary for so many people because they are worried that they won’t meet anyone. And that’s valid. How do we make friends as adults? Without school and sports and helicopter parents forcing us to meet each other??? So scary. My friends have laughed at me and joked that I could make friends anywhere. And after this last year’s adventures, I’d have to say their right. Honestly, it’s so crazy easy. You don’t even have to speak the language. Just be nice and go for it. I saved my favorite for the last.
Find People Online – The Internet Isn’t Just for Memes and Dating
I have met so many amazing friends this year who I first met online. Getting online is a great way to start offline friendships. But how? I use Tinder and make it clear that I’m looking to meet friends. I am slightly active on Couchsurfing, though it hasn’t been my most successful outlet for making friends. Let your friends know where you’re going – chances are you know someone who knows Kevin Bacon somewhere, and will connect you. I joined several Facebook groups for female travelers and have found women whose stories and goals resonate with mine. We talk online often and relish the chances we get to meet in real life.
I know that when you get to the hostel after a 12 hour night bus and the sun is barely up and you’ve spent the last hour haggling with a cab driver, the last thing you want to do is be nice and talk to people. Too bad. Your hostel is full of people with whom you have a lot in common. You’re traveling. You came to this place. You don’t like squat toilets and are so over tuk tuk drivers hassling you. What more do you need to base a friendship on really? This goes for locals too . Spoiler alert – they like to have fun too. Remember that sometimes when people come across as stand offish, they might be embarrassed of their English, or I’ve even found in some countries, their smiles. So they might be staring at you, but shoot them a smile and a hello and the hard facade melts.
I absolutely detest organized tours. I just don’t like being shuffled around with 50 strangers from site to site that I can’t even see because of the crowd and can’t enjoy because we need to move on. And they tend to be expensive. So why not sort it out yourself? In Cairns, operators wanted $100 each to do a waterfall tour. Instead, I put the word out in my hostel and found three other badass chick travelers who were in. We rented a car, took our time seeing everything the tours saw and more, spent $75 total between the four of us and are all still friends 9 months later. In Myanmar, another girl from the hostel and I wanted to go to Mt. Popa, but a taxi was $10 per person. Instead, we organized a truck that would be $50 total and rounded up 10 new friends to join us. Not only did we save money, but a month later in Cambodia, I’m hanging out with two of them again.
Find Something to Talk About and Go
In Fiji, I was walking the beach with a friend from the hostel and we found a statue of an Indian goddess on what was clearly a tiger. At least so I thought. Derek thought it was a lion (there may have been a few beers involved in his assessment). As we walked back to the hostel, we approached every group we passed, telling them we had an important question to ask, they had to settle a disagreement. Everyone obviously chose tiger, but it was a great way to start up a conversation that within moments, everyone was laughing about.
“We’re Going to be Friends”
My personal favorite. All the self help and management and cook books you’ll find will advise you to state your goals. And making friends is no exception. On more occasions than I can count, I walked up to someone by themselves or in a group and led with some variation of, “hello, we’re going to be friends.” It’s the best pickup line because it just starts the conversation on a surprising note. I’ve done this online, by email, in a bar and on the beach. Not all of these people are my besties, but also not a single one told me to buzz off.
Pro-tip: This line, as with everything in life, is best executed with a dancing walk up.
How do you make friends on the road? What are the obstacles in your way?