I’m predominantly a solo traveller. Or I used to be. These days I’ve met so many people in my travels that often I’m couchsurfing with people I’ve met during my past travels. Or I’ve organised to meet someone I met overseas on the other side of the world. Or I just met three people at my hostel.
In the last six months, I’ve couchsurfed in Boston with someone I met in Peru and next up we’re doing a tour in Jordan; completed a 10 day trip to Greece with a Canadian I met while aupairing in Italy; and toured Maui with a friend I met while teaching English in Hungary.
I can’t count how many times I’ve being asked ‘are you going by yourself’ with a look of surprise when I start talking about my next adventure. Technically yes – I’m catching a flight out of Australia on my own but I’ll hardly be alone – I’ll be meeting people as I go or catching up with people I’ve met in other travels.
Here’s six ways to meet people when you’re a solo traveller.
In a hostel
Many people in hostels will be solo travellers too. Your dorm is a good place to start a conversation. Be friendly when you walk in the door of your dorm and say hi to anyone who’s in there. You’ll know pretty quickly if they want to start a conversation. You might find out you have a lot in common and want to see the same things.
Many hostels offer group activities such as pub crawls or walking tours. Join in on these and it will be easy to meet people.
I’ve met many people in hostels either in my dorm or in the common room. I met a Dutch guy in a hostel in Estonia at the hostel bar and we ended up travelling for a week in Estonia, Finland and Russia. It’s easy to say hi.
Or when I was in the Norwegian town of Odda going to do the Trolltunga hike, I chatted to the people in my dorm. We ended up doing the hike together – way better than slogging through 22km of mud and snow by myself.
Join a tour group
If you’re worried about travelling through a country by yourself, join a tour group. I’ve done a couple of organised tours in Central and South America and they were great. I met a bunch of fantastic people and many of them I’m planning to catch up with again on my next trip.
You can also meet people easily on day trips. I’ve done a couple of organised day trips to hikes or caves and just started chatting to a few people on the tour.
A great way to meet locals and find out about the best spots in the country you’re visiting is to couchsurf. I’ve met some really nice people while couchsurfing – many who have driven me around their town and shown me the sights. It’s a great way to see a place and it will also help you save some money.
Talk to travellers from your own country
The Aussie accent is pretty easy to pick and it’s even easier when you’ve been travelling for awhile – the Australian accent sounds a lot stronger and I’m always thinking ‘do I really sound like that!’
If I hear an Aussie accent nearby (or even an English speaker) I often will go say hello. It’s an easy icebreaker if you’re from the same country. I’ve met some really lovely people this way from an Australian couple while watching the sunset in Santorini to people standing in the immigration line at the airport.
Another great way to meet people is to give something back. Volunteer your time to teach English, make beds in a hostel, or help out at an organic farm. It’s easy to find volunteer opportunities through websites such as HelpX or WorkAway.
I volunteered to teach English for a week in Hungary and met some great Hungarians as well as travellers from across the world. Many of them I keep in touch with nine months on and a couple I’ve travelled with since.
Ask your friends
Reach out to your friends and see if they know anyone where you’re travelling too. Chances are your friends know someone or have a friend of a friend who knows someone and they can connect you. It’s great to tour a place with a local – and you might also score a couch to sleep on.