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How To Make Friends Traveling [39+ Easy Ways]

How To Make Friends Traveling Solo [39+ Easy Ways]

It may be hard to believe, but one of my top travel stories –  in which I was kidnapped, blindfolded, and stranded on a mountain in Greece without any money or a phone – all happened because of a mobile app.

Yes, it was a dating app and yes, it was Bumble.

And spoiler alert, it was for a TV show.

While most people disregard mobile apps as a source to make new friends, it’s easily one of the most effective ways to meet new people.

Along with mobile apps, there are tons of other easy ways to meet new people and make friends while traveling.

So many ways that I’ve gone ahead and put together this article for you with over 39+ easy ways on how to make friends traveling solo, abroad, or with a partner.

More specifically…

  1. Approaches & Mindsets to Making Friends
  2. Experiences to Make Friends
  3. Shared Accommodations / Spaces
  4. Travel Communities to Make Friends
  5. *A Few Secret Bonuses*

Contents

Position to Succeed - Icon

Introduction

Position to Succeed

Approaches and Mindsets - Icon

Chapter 1

Approaches & Mindsets

Making Friends Experiences - Icon

Chapter 2

Experiences

Shared Accommodations and Spaces - Icon

Chapter 3

Shared Accommodations / Spaces

Online Travel Communities - Icon

Chapter 4

Online Travel Communities

Bonuses - Icon

Chapter 5

*Secret Bonuses*

Introduction

Position to Succeed

Meeting people and making friends while traveling solo can be scary.

And this is one of the biggest concerns I hear from people before they go traveling solo or abroad:

“Oh no… What happens if I don’t meet any new people or make any friends?”

If you’ve ever been nervous to meet someone while traveling, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

These are the same questions that almost everyone asks themselves before they go traveling solo or abroad.

And to be honest, sometimes I still even get nervous when I’m going somewhere new for the first time and don’t know anyone.

However, everywhere in the world I’ve traveled to – whether it’s been solo, studying abroad as a student, or with a travel partner – I always seem to meet new people and make friends who make the travel experiences and stories that much better.

Cartagena, Colombia - Airbnb Original Price
Meeting new friends

And of course, not everyone you meet is going to be a lifelong friend. Nor they will all be someone you want to hang out with, and that’s okay.

The majority of the friends I’ve made while traveling solo, just happened.

And as you know we can’t predict the future…

But we can put ourselves in the position to increase the chance of meeting new people and making friends while traveling solo.

There are many components that can affect making new friends. These core components include:

  1. Approaches & Mindsets
  2. Experiences
  3. Shared Accommodations / Spaces
  4. Travel Communities
  5. *Secret Bonuses*

Before we dive into the components, I want to let you in on a little secret

What most people don’t realize is that traveling solo actually makes you more approachable in comparison to traveling with a group or a partner.

This is because other people feel more confident to come and have a conversation with you because it’s far less intimidating to approach and speak to one person than it is speaking to a group of people.

I actually find it 10X easier to make new friends while solo traveling than I do when I’m with people.

How so you may ask?

Well, when you are traveling with someone you are less inclined to want to meet other people because you already have an established relationship with that other person.

Ok, now it’s time to dive into the five components of making new friends.

First up is Approaches and Mindsets.

Chapter 1

Approaches & Mindsets

We’ll start off with approaches first. There are two sides to this.

The first is to not only approach others, but to be approachable yourself.

While this may seem obvious, your body language is a direct signal to everyone else about your energy level and vibes.

In other words, do you want to be disturbed or not.

Ok, here are some things you should be aware of if you want to be more approachable to increase your chance of meeting new people while traveling solo.

Traveling With Friends

Being Approachable

  1. Avoid Using Electronic Devices: If you are glued to your phone or computer, or if you have your headphones in, this is a dead giveaway that you do not want to be disturbed.

     

  2. Avoid Closed-off Body Language: This includes crossing your arms or legs, rotating your torso/shoulders away from others, and in some cases the direction in which you point your feet.

     

  3. Good Body Posture: Apart from this being good for your physical health, keeping your head up increases the likeliness for eye contact. Also, by standing or sitting up straight, this shows that you are engaged and not bored.
Man sitting alone

*Bonus* – Smile: Smiling is a universal expression and can brighten up someone’s day, and definitely makes you appear happier and more approachable. So, go ahead and show off those pearly whites.

Again, these may seem like no-brainers, but they dramatically increase your likelihood of starting conversations with new people.

Approaching Others

Now let’s discuss actually approaching other people.

This can seem really intimidating and scary, even for me… Especially if it’s an attractive person of the opposite gender.

However, the mindset I always go in with is that I’ll probably never ever see this person again, so what do I have to lose.

That’s right, nothing…

While this mindset is a good start, it’s even easier to approach people when you have some go-to phrases to ask.

Now before I share them, to be clear, all situations are different, so these will not work in every single situation.

Some of the most effective phrase tactics I’ve used when approaching others include:

  • Give a Compliment, Followed by Asking a Genuine Question: For example, “I like your backpack, it’s really stylish, what’s the name of it and where did you find it?”

One example that I commonly use is when I see a woman with a Pandora Charm Bracelet, is that I’ll say, “Hey, I love your Pandora Charm Bracelet! My mom has one two too and I get her specific charms from all over the world. Do you have a favorite charm?”

  • Ask If You Can Join: As the saying goes, the more the merrier. More often than not, if you ask to join a group of people, whether they are socializing or doing an activity together, they will say yes. Especially if you are carrying a 6-pack of beer in your hand too. It’s important to not just assume and join, because that can lead to an awkward situation.

     

  • Introduce Yourself: Again another no-brainer, but by saying your name and maybe where you are from, this opens the door for the other person to connect with you and shows that you are interested in making friends with them.
Friends with beer cheering

Pro-Tip: A good way to keep the conversation going is to use the tactic of mirroring.

Commonly used in negotiating, but also effective in conversations, it’s just simply repeating the last one to three words of what somebody said.

When you get good at mirroring, you’ll be able to pick one to three words from anywhere in the conversation.

This makes the other person feel listened to and that you are truly engaged in the conversation.

Mindsets

Ok, now that we have down some of the most effective approaches, let’s discuss a few effective mindsets for making new friends while traveling. 

1. Be Spontaneous & Open-Minded: This means don’t plan out your entire trip because this doesn’t allow for flexibility. Instead, be open-minded to saying yes to things that you may be on the fence about doing. In my experience more often than not, these experiences turn out to be a great time.

For example, if a friend asks you to go to a new restaurant they found, but you have plans that night, either invite them to your plans or try to schedule for an earlier time or the following day.

And also, I highly recommend inviting others to your plans, even if it’s just for going to explore and walk around or grab lunch.

The reason being is that people want to feel included.

Meeting new friends
  1. Remember Names: I can’t say this enough, remember their name. This is a big one, but almost everyone drops the ball here, including myself sometimes. It’s just a really easy way to impress them later when they’ve already forgotten your name. Plus, if you don’t remember their name it can lead to an awkward situation.

     

  2. Set A Personal Rule: One rule that I’ve set in the past while traveling solo is to make a point of talking to at least one stranger every day. This tiny rule has helped me make a ton of friends.

Another effective rule, is that if you are solo traveling is to avoid sitting at a table and instead sit at the bar as this makes you more approachable.

Ok, that’s pretty much the high-level for effective approaches and mindsets when trying to meet people and make friends while traveling solo or abroad.

Next up, we are going to discuss some experiences that you can join to put yourself in situations where you are most likely to meet similar, like-minded people.

Chapter 2

Experiences To Make Friends Traveling

One of the best ways to find new friends while traveling is to actually do the things you love to do!

So if you love to do yoga, take some local group classes, or if you enjoy weekend trips or excursions, then book those.

There’s a strong chance that by putting yourself in these specific situations you will be able to meet like-minded people and strike up a conversation over the shared experience.

    Yoga Group Class

    Experiences

    Ok, with that in mind, I want to share some of the most common experiences that you can do to meet new people.

    Exercise: Whether this is going to the gym or the park for a run/walk or bike ride, people care about their health and it’s something that’s easy to bond over.

    Skilled Activities: This is a bit more advanced than general exercise, but common examples include scuba diving, salsa dancing, or even other recreational sports, etc.

    Some of the best friends I made in Phuket, Thailand were from Muay Thai fighting classes.

      Muay Thai Fighting Friends

      Walking Tours: One of the first things that I do when I arrive in a new city is go on a Free Walking Tour.

      Obviously, you tip at the end if you haven’t experienced one already, but it’s a great way to learn the history and culture of the area and also be around new people for a few hours.

      At the very least, get the phone number of the guide to ask for recommendations or tips.

      Day/Group Trips (Local Experiences): Another great way to be surrounded by new people is by going on day trips and group tours.

      If you think about it, you all paid to have a similar experience, so why not meet new people and share the experience together.

      Some incredible local experiences where I made new friends while traveling including taking a day trip to Chichen Itza, an off the grid weekend in the Rosario Islands at Casa en el Agua, and visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and learning to make papaya salad.

      Chichen Itza, Mexico
      Casa en el Agua - Colombia
      Making Papaya Salad in Phuket, Thailand

      Pro-Tip: Airbnb has a whole section on their website dedicated to local experiences. Highly recommend booking a local-organized cooking class or an outdoor experience through them.

      Airbnb Experiences

      Social Events: Pretty much wherever you are in the world, there are opportunities to volunteer or do work exchanges.

      A good website for volunteering and work exchanges is Worldpackers.

      Both options are very popular and effective ways to quickly make new friends.

      Also, other social events can include local celebrations, Facebook events, or one of my highly recommended tools called Meetup where you can take part or host social events.

      Or it can be on the more extreme side such as a music festival, obviously, pre-COVID.

      Public Transit: While I can’t help but laugh a little bit when writing this, one unique place where I’ve met new people is when using public transportation.

      Whether it be asking for directions, passing the time talking about how good or bad the transportation is, it definitely can be an easy way to strike up a conversation with a new person.

      Ok, when it comes to experiences, as the famous saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

      “So stay true to what you like to do and be open to trying new experiences, and meeting new people and making new friends as you solo travel, will come as a by-product.”

      Alright, now it’s time to discuss Shared Accommodations and Spaces.

      Chapter 3

      Shared Accommodations / Spaces

      Hands down one of the best ways to make new friends while traveling solo is staying in hostels.

      Now I know some people don’t love the idea of staying in a dorm-room setting.

      However, if you’ve never tried it, I’d recommend giving it a shot because you won’t know unless you try.

      It is definitely one of the cheapest travel accommodations if you are on a budget.

      Hostels

      Hostels + Airbnbs

      When deciding whether to book any hostel, I highly recommend looking at their online reviews, usually on HostelWorld.com or a social review site, so you can find out if they are a party hostel or not.

      This is important because if you prioritize not being in a loud environment and usually go to bed at an early or set time.

      For me, I actually prefer Airbnb monthly rentals because I can negotiate the price and usually can save over 50%.

      If you haven’t seen my video on how to negotiate and save money on your next Airbnb stay, then I highly recommend checking it out.

      Pro-Tip: Because I’m a fan of Airbnb rentals, what I’ve done before is stay in a hostel for the first few nights in that location, make some friends, get to know the area, and then book a monthly rental on Airbnb.

      Ok, so if you do decide to stay in hostels there are several opportunities you can use to meet new people and make friends.

      The easiest place to make friends without any effort is in your dorm room.

      You can stay in a big dorm room (usually cheaper), and when you meet people, introduce yourself and again, remember their name.

      Some additional ideas to meet new people include:

      • Showing Up for Breakfast (if they offer it)
      • Hanging Out / Working in the Common Areas
      • Joining Hostel Activities (Bar Crawls, Trivia Nights, etc.)
      • Bringing Things to Share (Food, Alcohol, Cards, Cigarettes, etc.)

      Other Shared Accommodations

      I won’t dive too deep into each of these as I did with hostels but all are easy ways to meet new people and make friends while traveling solo.

      These shared accommodations options include:

      • Couching Surfing – Usually an inexpensive option, it’s the perfect way to meet and stay with locals. I’ll be honest, I haven’t personally used it but have heard hit or miss stories with it. So check the reviews of the place.

         

      • Trusted Housesitters – More of a selection process, but essentially you can watch someone’s pet in exchange for staying at their home, while they are gone on vacation or elsewhere. This is definitely more competitive but the upside is that it can be rent free!
      Watching Pets - Trusted Housesitters
      • Co-living Spaces – If you didn’t know, Co-living is the trend of living with many other people in one space that encourages its residents to interact and work together.

      They are usually run by companies and have become a trend in response to the increasing number of young people moving to expensive cities in search of work.

      In other words, co-living is a shared space where residents with similar interests, intentions, and values share a living space which tries to emulate a big family feeling.

      If you are looking at this Co-Living Spaces, I recommend checking out: Coliving.com

      Airbnb Private Rooms
      • Airbnb Private Rooms – While most individuals usually rent an entire stay/place, one option is to rent a private room so you have your own space.

      But also you get the opportunity to meet others staying there or potentially make friends with the host – who is usually a local and most likely has a ton of tips and recommendations that they can share with you.

      Shared Spaces

      Ok, last up is shared spaces. Simply put, these are public or common areas.

      So next time you are thinking about reading, journaling, having some coffee, or just going out to clear your mind, I highly recommend going to a public place.

      This could include but is not limited to going to the park, a local coffee shop, or the mall.

      Or if you are looking for a new work environment, I highly recommend checking out a co-working space for a day.

      Coworking Space

      Some global co-working spaces include WeWork and Selina, but depending on where you are, there are also a ton of great local options too.

      Ok, ext up we are going to discuss online communities and resources where you can meet new people and make friends while traveling solo.

      Chapter 4

      Online Travel Communities

      There are literally hundreds of options here.

      But we are going to focus on the most popular online communities that you can join to make new friends while traveling solo.

      These online community types include:

      • Travel Programs
      • Facebook Groups
      • Online Forum Communities
      • Mobile Apps

      While there are so many great options, it really comes down to what community format / structure you prefer.

      Either way, there is definitely something for everyone here.

      Travel With Others

      Travel Programs

      Let’s start with travel programs first.

      For context, these are usually application-based, pay-to-join programs, in which you are first vetted out to make sure you are a good fit for the program.

      Then it usually requires a deposit, followed by a fixed fee, which usually a monthly fee, that pays for your accommodation, a co-working space, and major transportation such as flights.

      Some of the top work and travel abroad programs and retreats out there are:

      • RemoteYear
      • WiFi Tribe
      • Hackers Paradise
      • NomadCruise
      • Work Wanderers
      • Coworkation

      Unfortunately, COVID has definitely affected these programs and limited their itineraries, but they are still an excellent way to not only meet new people but also travel with them too.

      Which in my opinion when you live with someone in more than one country inherently adds another layer to the friendship.

      Traveling With Friends in a Community

      To be clear, the biggest value proposition of these companies is their community.

      The travel costs are usually inflated in comparison to finding your own accommodation, co-working space, transportation, etc.

      But this is necessary so these companies can be profitable.

      Facebook Groups

      While Facebook Groups are a great resource for pretty much everything, they are especially helpful for making new friends while traveling solo.

      The best way to find these is by going to Facebook and searching for the name of the place you are living, followed by the following keywords:

      • “Location” Digital Nomads
      • “Location” Expats

      Additionally, there are world travel / digital nomad Facebook Groups that are another easy way to connect and make friends. 

      Some of my top recommended groups include:

      • Female Digital Nomads (50k+ Members)
      • Global Digital Nomad Network (50k+ Members)
      • Digital Nomads Around the World (100k+ Members)

      Pro-Tip: You can also join local location-based groups (search “location” Locals) too.

      These are a great source for finding some golden nuggets of information – such as effective transportation, local ordinances and restrictions, local celebration details, etc.

      P.S. Just make sure to follow the group rules, otherwise you will probably be kicked out.

      Digital Nomad Local Secrets

      Online Forum Communities

      Again, there are a ton of options here, so I’m only going to focus on the most prominent ones.

      The first big travel community is NomadList.

      Not only is it cool to track your travel history, see digital nomad scores on specific places, but it’s a great way to connect with people that are going to be in your city.

      The best thing to do here is send a message through their Slack community.

      NomadList Community Outreach Message

      Here’s an effective outreach message that I direct message to people that are in the same location as me.

      You can use this script pretty much anywhere within an online community.

      P.S. NomadList is a paid community.

      Other notorious online communities include:

      • Reddit: If you haven’t heard of reddit, you are probably living under a rock. If you are, that’s okay I’m sure it’s a nice rock – just kidding.

      Either way, reddit is one of my go to places for digital nomad and solo travel information, along with meeting up with people that are traveling and currently staying in that area.

      Some popular subreddits include:

      • r/SoloTravel
      • r/DigitalNomad 

      • r/Expat

      Airbnb Profile Reviews
      • Showaround: Showaround connects all types of travelers (solo, digital study abroad, digital nomads, expats, etc.) with locals who are willing to show you around their home cities.

      Please note, some hosts do charge for their time, but there are plenty of hosts who are willing to share their city and knowledge of the culture for free.

      • TripGiraffe: What’s cool about TripGiraffe, besides their name and their Instagram profile having pictures of a giraffe with aviator sunglasses all over the world, is that you can create a trip and invite other solo travelers to join you.

      Or you can search through the tons of other existing trips and join the one you like the most.

      Mobile Apps

      Ok, the last online community type is mobile apps.

      As mentioned earlier, one of my top travel stories, in which I was kidnapped, blind-folded, and stranded on a mountain in Greece without any money or a phone, all happened because of a mobile app.

      And yes, there are apps designed for travel that aren’t just the classic dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, or Facebook MatchEven though those dating apps can be used for finding casual friendships of the same or opposite gender.

      Mountain Range in Greece

      Other popular solo traveler apps include:

      • Tourlina: With the tourlina app women can find interesting and entertaining female travel companions and locals within a secure and trusted network.

      Tourlina has a safety verification process before you can begin swiping on other female travelers.

      Think of it as Tinder exclusively for female travel buddies.

      • Travello: A social network for travelers, Travello uses your travel interests to match you with other solo travelers.
      Tourlina App

      It’s designed for a broad range of travelers, including urban tourists, digital nomads, expats, travel abroad students, backpackers, and gap-year individuals.

      Flip the Trip: Flip the Trip is specifically a great option for finding travel friends for your future trips.

      Other solo traveler mobile apps I’ve heard of but have poor app store reviews are Backpackr, Chirpey, and SoloTraveller.

      So feel free to check them out but be fair warned.

      Chapter 5

      *Secret Bonuses*

      As you may be able to tell by now, I’m the type of person that loves to under-promise and over-deliver.

      So I’ve included a few bonus items to help you meet new people and make friends while traveling solo or traveling abroad.

      1. Using Your Network
      2. Language Communities
      Bonuses - Icon

      #1 Using Your Network

      The two big things here are to leverage your network and your friend’s networks.

      Warm introductions are usually the best and if they are friends of your friend, chances are you will like them too.

      Some effective ways to do this are:

      1. Post On Social Media: Friends love connecting you to other friends because it shows that they are a good friend.

      So what that means is in your post or story, recommend Instagram stories, to ask your friends if they know anyone in the area to connect them to you.

      2. Change Social Media Bio: One popular thing amongst travelers is posting their location in their bio so it makes other people aware they might be in the same city.

      3. Search Through Your Phone: This is simply opening up that contact list and scrolling through to see if anyone might be there or if there is a friend you can message who might have a friend in the place you are at.

        Instagram Bio - Digital Nomad

        #2 Language Communities

        If you are learning a new language and living in a new location, then this is a home run.

        For example, I’m learning Spanish and I have a rockstar tutor that’s not only shown me around her city, but also has introduced me to her friends.

        Additionally, there are language communities where you can find a tutor in your area.

        Top communities include:

        • Italki
        • Linguaholic
        • Preply
        • Language Exchange Community
        • Polyglot Club

        Final Thoughts

        Ok, before we wrap up this post on easy ways to meet people and make friends while traveling solo, I want to share my biggest message here and pretty much the underlying objective of this post.

        And that is… To not stress about making friends and meeting new people because it will happen and you don’t need to force it.

        So don’t get stressed about something you can’t control.

        Instead, focus on what you can control and travel with the intent of exploring new locations, having new experiences, and most importantly working on yourself and your independence.

        By being yourself, people will naturally gravitate towards you.

        And since you’re a solo traveler, if you aren’t digging the vibe of the place and the people, then you just move on.

        You have the freedom and flexibility to do so.

        Ok, at this point, I’m excited for you because you are now well-equipped to put yourself in positions to meet new people and make friends while solo traveling.

        And if you are ever in the same city I’m in, you’ll always have a friend, just message me on YouTube, DM on Instagram, or email me ([email protected]chNomads.com).

        Now It’s Your Turn…

        Which tactic from today’s post are you going to try first? 

        • Join a digital nomad community?
        • Signup for a local event?
        • Post on social media and leverage your network to find more people?

        Let me know by leaving a comment below, right now.

        If you like this post, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive work from home and travel secrets – that I only share with subscribers. It’s free.

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