By Lisa Eldridge, Girl About The Globe
Travelling solo can be a challenge; looking for your accommodations, figuring out transport, the currency, and having to navigate your way around a new city can be exhausting. So when you meet a like-minded person to share it all with, it can make travel so much more enjoyable.Meeting other travellers means that there’s someone to look after your bags whilst you pop into a shop, someone to remember landmarks as you wander around with, someone to talk to, have dinner and experience the nightlife with and just someone for some company. Even if you prefer figuring it all out for yourself, it can make it all so much easier.
Maybe you’ve been on your own for the third day running without interacting with a single soul (except maybe the occasional waiter), and you’re beginning to get bored of your own company and feel that you’ve lost the ability to have a decent conservation. Then it’s time for some company.
So how and where can you meet people to share your travels with?
Hostels were created with the idea of mingling with strangers, and you’ll find many hold daily or nightly events. Any hostel will do, but the best hostels to integrate with others are the smaller, more independent ones. Unless large hostels have social nights, it can be difficult to strike up a conversation with others so the smaller, the friendlier. Speak to others in your dorm room, sit in the common area and ask people for tips on what to see and do. Travellers are a friendly bunch especially if they are solo as well and you’ll often find that they will just invite you to go exploring with them for the day. Ask the reception desk if they have any tours or nightly events that you can take for guaranteed company.
Not only are they free (you just make a donation at the end), they are great for solo travellers. Even if you’re not one to approach people, it’s guaranteed that someone will have struck up a conversation with you by the end. With tours lasting between two to three hours, there’s plenty of time to engage with others. Keep your time free at the end for any impromptu drink or meal offers. (This also applies to any kind of day tour).
It is so easy to strike up conversations with people on buses or trains. You never know who will come into your carriage or have the seat next to you. All you need to do is just ask them to mind your bags whilst you grab a coffee and offer them one too or just ask “where are you heading to?” and a conversation is born. This is even easier on buses, where you are all squeezed in and within inches of each other.
These are a great idea and a chance to meet other solos (hence the name) especially if you’re staying in hotels and away from sociable accommodation. You just rock up to a city, check if there is one, then turn up. These come thoroughly recommended by solo travellers and are an ideal way to meet other solos just like you. Plus you can choose from writing groups or various interests in over thirty-five cities.
If staying at a stranger’s house doesn’t sit comfortably with you, you can always choose to meet someone on Couchsurfing instead. As well as being somewhere to find accommodation for the night, it’s also an online community which connects you with locals who can meet you for a coffee, dinner or show you around their home town. You can just put where you’re going to be and on which date and then let people contact you, so you don’t even have to approach anyone.
If you are in a Spanish speaking country, there’s bound to be an ‘intercambio,’ or a language exchange. You can also arrange to meet people online through sites or just speak to them through Skype if you’re not in the same area. It may seem a bit daunting to speak solely in a language which isn’t your native tongue at first but people are just as keen to practice their English with you, so you’ll often find it’s an exchange of languages. Just take along a phrase book and an open mind. You can always do some groundwork before you go with online programmes such as Duolingo and Conversation Exchange.
These are just a few ways to meet others, but you can actually meet people in the most unlikely places, such as market places or hostel lobbies, or you can ask friends and relatives if they know anyone in the area you’re in. If you’re travelling on a particular travellers route then you’ll be surprised at how many people you’ll keep bumping into.
Of course, there may be times when you are really happy to be alone but for all the times that you’re not, there are plenty of opportunities to make friends. If you travel with an open mind, you can meet people anywhere. The best way to engage and meet others – is just to smile…