Solo travel is fast turning into a trend for various reasons – clashing work schedules, greater resources and better safety for single travelers has led more people to take off on their own for their holiday destination. And yet humans being the social creatures they are, even solo travel can end up as opportunities for meeting new people and making friends. Here are then some tips for meeting people when you are travelling alone.
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Make use of waiting areas
When traveling solo, people are naturally drawn to each other and especially so if their destination happens to be the same. Thus airports and train stations are a great place to meet new people. Airports especially have lengthy check-in process which means that travelers are thrown together in a lounge or find themselves standing next to one another in queues. See if there is anyone with a friendly demeanor and then open a conversation about where the person is headed to or whether he/she traveling for work or pleasure. Then again most bus-stops, train terminals and airports have nice coffee shops where you can engage a fellow traveler in a conversation over a steaming cup of joe and pass the waiting hours in an enjoyable way.
Check into hostels
Staying in hostels is one of the best ways to meet people, especially if you’re traveling alone. While you may not get a private bathroom and the room may not always be as quiet as you like, hostels offer travelers a social accommodation experience. First of all, you share a room with other travelers who are also exploring a foreign land and looking for adventure. These types of people are usually open and looking to meet other travelers to share stories and experiences with. Moreover, many hostels offer social spaces and activities in the form of shared rooms, shared kitchens and common rooms. In all these ways hostels are set up to encourage fellow travelers to mingle and get to know each other. Also a large percentage of people who check into hostels are solo travelers themselves which means that you have a high likelihood of meeting others who are also looking for company. Look out for bulletin boards at hostels where travelers usually post notes or exchange information about they are headed to, when and how. Who knows you may stumble upon a like-minded companion on a halt and your travel turn out to be all the more interesting for it.
Sign up for a tour
Going on an organized tour is a great way to meet other travelers. Exploring new areas and sites with a group is fun and it’s easy to strike up a conversation when there is a common structure. Moreover when travelers are freed of the hassles of booking tickets and catching buses, then they can focus more on socializing; so as you get in and out of the tour coach together as well as walk into the same coffee shops and diners, open a conversation with a fellow traveler and get talking.
If resources are a concern, then instead of guided tours, sign up for free walking tours offered in many cities, especially in Europe. Apart from sightseeing on a budget, you get to meet other travelers on these walking tours. The companies that organize them also usually host nightly pub- crawls and because of this, a lot of the people you meet on the walking tour during the day may end up being your drinking buddies later on that night.
Find your niche area
Yet another way to meet new people abroad is to look out for those who share your enthusiasm for a special kind of travel experience like walking tours across the mountains of Ireland or kayaking in the rapids of Ganges. If so, it would make sense to approach niche travel groups or adventure sports clubs which specialize in these sorts of vacations; alternately you can start on your own to destinations known for adventure sports or historical monuments where you may come across a companion to share your passion with.
Scour places of practical interest
All travelers use money exchanges which is why this venue is a good place to get chatting with someone you spot changing your currency into that of the place you are traveling to. so if you happen to get down from the plane or train and find someone exchanging dollars for pounds or Sri Lankan Rupees, then it is highly possible that they will be traveling through UK or Sri Lanka just like you. Then again you can spend some time at tourist centers in new cities and towns since these are common places where travelers usually post notes or exchange information about they are headed to, when and how.
When you are in one place for a while, go to the same pub, grocer’s, flower shop, coffee shop or restaurant consistently. You’ll be noticed as a new regular and people will eventually get chatting with you. Besides other patrons, the barman or counter lady of the neighborhood establishment is likely to be a minefield of local knowledge and will surely help you get in touch with other travelers and meet the residents. Also when at a restaurants, head for communal tables instead of sitting at a corner alone. Again make it a point to drop into coffee shops that are the hubs for freelancers – here you can not only make use of free wi-fi to stay connected with home but being social places, you have a high possibility of meeting new people.
Make safety a priority
While traveling alone can open up new experiences like never before, never compromise on safety. Staying safe is the most important thing to remember when traveling and so avoid hitchhiking on little-known routes or taking public transport in places where law and order is shaky. Meeting people is fun but never put yourself in a situation that seems or feels unsafe just to make new friends.
In the end, it is actually easier to meet people when traveling solo than when in company. When people don’t have a travel partner, they have to look for company and conversation with other people because after all human beings are social creatures. Again when a potential companion sees you by yourself, he/she will be more likely to reach out to you than if you were seen surrounded by friends or family. On your part, be open to speaking to strangers and initiating conversation with others and you will always make friends wherever you travel!