1. Visit some travel websites
The first step is always the most obvious one: if you want to meet people in your same situation, just head to the places where they all gather when planning their trips. Forums and social networks like Lonely Planet or Travbuddy will be your first point of contact with loner travelers as you.
2. Book an activity where there’s going to be more people involved
Nature activities like hiking tours or surfing classes can be a great alternative to meet people when you’re on your own. The rest of the group will be in the same situation as you, so it will be easy to start a conversation this way. And if you’re not an outdoors person, try something like local cooking classes. Pretty enriching as well.
Source: Photo Nic
3. Train station/bus/boats/tuk tuk...
When people realize you’re traveling with no company, they’re naturally kinder to you. Let’s say they see you’re in a “more exposed” situation. So if you see someone just sitting by her/his own, go talk to them. You never know what nice surprise is waiting for you. They will give you great opportunities to talk to people, whether it’s on the route itself or when you stop to grab some snacks. Always look for the backpack, it’s the clearest sign of a person who’s traveling.
4. Take advantage of meals in hostels/lodges
It’s very easy to keep on eye on travelers when heading to having breakfast, lunch or dinner at hostels or whatever accommodation you’re staying in. You can see whether they’re alone, in a group of friends or in a family trip. We all have felt that hunch the second before knowing someone that -you can tell- you’re going to be friends (or not). So just start by asking the first question and see how it goes.
5. Spend the night in backpackers shelters
Shelters are the number one place to make friends while traveling. Almost everyone there will be hoping to find some quality company. Sharing a room with other people is the best thing you can do. Night is the time when secrets come to light, so do not waste this chance to talk to like-minded travelers. This sort of intimacy can create a real closeness that many times ends up in a lifetime friendship.
6. Book a tour around the city with a local guide
Who is going to tell you the best kept secrets of a city better than a insider? They live there, so trust them to make you get involved in the history of the country you’re visiting and who knows? Maybe you two make an exceptional travel couple for grabbing some drinks or just sharing some lifetime experiences.
7. Learn the local language
Taking classes of the local language (or whatever language you want) will not just increase your knowledge about the culture, but it’ll connect you with people that may be in your same situation. It’s really easy to start knowing about their lives in class dynamic, where you have to participate in working groups or similar activities. Suggest going for a coffee after the class or arrange some other plan to enjoy a fun leisure moment all together.
8. Going to a bar or club
Yes, party time! You don’t need a group of twenty people to have some fun. You can party on your own just like you’re doing everything else, so give it a try and enjoy a margarita in a local bar. There will be more people there, insiders or foreigners, alone or in groups, dancing or playing darts. You will never find out what unforgettable moments you’re missing if you don’t challenge yourself to start a conversation.
9. Heading to local restaurants
If a hotel is a good place to meet new people, imagine how much better an actual restaurant, cafeteria or diner can be to have an enriching conversation. And I’m not talking about the clients, I’m talking about the owners or waiters of the place. They know a lot more than anyone else about the culture of the city, the secret spots you can visit and legends that will really amaze you.
Imagination can be your best friend if you’re up to meet people while traveling. My piece of advice? Just take the hardest step and make the first question. A simple “Where are you going?” can make the biggest difference in your journey. The worst that can happen is coming across someone who is not really eager to talk. And the best? Encountering the best travel buddies possible who may fill your trip with unforgettable moments.
Source main picture: Jakob Owens