As a perpetual female solo traveler, one of the questions I frequently get asked is do I get lonely?
The answer is of course, I get lonely when I travel solo, but also sometimes when I am at home. The truth is, you don’t have to be alone when you travel solo.
There are many ways you can make travel buddies, if you know how.
Traveling without a companion or partner can be completely daunting, so to help you out, I’ve listed some of the best tips on how to make travel buddies when on the road.
I’ve found solo travel to be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling styles of travel, as it allows you to meet others and connect with likeminded people.
How to find travel buddies
Like most types of travel, female solo travel has its ups and downs but at the end of the day, I heartily vouch that every person should try it at least once in their lives.
If you’re worried about being alone, here are some tips for making friends on the road.
1. Stay in social accommodation
No, I don’t mean a hostel. If you’re a backpacker on a budget and looking for cheap accommodation, shared dorm rooms in hostels will certainly introduce you to people and is a great way to meet people, but it’s not the only type of social accommodation.
Nowadays there is a wide range of types of hostels you can stay in, some are categorized as “luxury” even. So when I’m traveling and looking to meet people oftentimes, I’ll book into a high-quality hostel in a private room and spend time in the common room or communal areas to meet people or participate in hostel group activities.
But most of the time I don’t like staying in hostels so I look for smaller, more intimate accommodation options, ones where you meet the owners and other guests easily, like small B&Bs or staying in a private room in an Airbnb.
Airbnb and other similar accommodation rentals are a great way to meet the locals and get to see a different side of a destination. I’ve made friends with many Airbnb hosts over the years and it feels like I’m visiting a friend in the city or country where I’m visiting.
But if you’re past staying with other people, then you might want to look for a coliving accommodation. This is a type of living where everyone gets a private room with a private bathroom, but share a common area and a kitchen.
They have become popular in recent years thanks to the booming popularity of digital nomads. They are usually options for major cities.
2. Hop on a guided tour
Depending on your trip, your travel style and where you are going you might consider hopping on a small group tour.
Usually, there are a range of tours that meet every type of need and interest. Day tours or multi-day tours, photography tours and budget tours even pub crawls, there are many types to choose from.
Usually, when I’m in a place like Europe, I prefer to travel around on my own, but when I want to get to places where I need a car, I’ll just hop on a day tour instead. It’s a great way to pack in a lot of sightseeing and meet new people.
At the end of every tour I’ve done I usually leave with a couple of new friends and sometimes we would meet up later on and either travel together or just grab coffee.
After all, everyone is in the same boat as you.
If I’m traveling to a country where I’m either not comfortable traveling alone (rare now but still it happens) or I’m looking for a different kind or unique travel experience, I’ll book a multi-day tour.
For example, I just came home from a 3 week horseback riding trip through Mongolia with Zavkhan Trekking. Not even sure how I would even begin planning that on my own.
I also joined in on a small-group local tour around New Zealand called Haka Tours, both of which fitted perfectly for what I wanted and almost everyone else on the tours were also solo travelers. The trip leader also became someone I would call a friend afterwards.
Even if you travel by yourself, you’re rarely alone.
3. Participate in group activities
Aside from hopping on tours when you’re traveling around, another great way to stay social and first meet people on the road is to join in on group activities that are organized by your accommodation.
I love having hands-on travel experiences, like eating, when I’m on the road so I tend to gravitate towards activities like cooking classes, food and market tours, and lots and lots of adventure activities, like bike tours, boat outings, and scenic flights.
Most of these activities book more than one person on them so you are guaranteed to meet people. There is nothing quite like making a new friend as you kayak through rapids or bake a local dish in a new city.
4. Spark up conversations with people when you can
Say you’re waiting for a bus, or catching an internal flight, or simply in a line in a coffee shop – say hello to people and start up a conversation. You never know where this might lead you to.
I met a friend to come participate in the festivities of Songkran in Thailand by saying “hello” to them in Starbucks.
This isn’t a technique for everyone, if you’re shy then you might find it a bit awkward. Also, not everyone wants to be spoken to so you need to read the room.
But if you sense that someone else is a solo traveler, they might be pleased you made the effort to speak to them.
I’ve met other solo travelers this way, and if we’ve hung out a few times and have similar interests or want to go to the same place, sometimes it’s easy to just travel along together for a while.
5. Have a “say yes” policy when you’re feeling a bit lonely and be friendly
Maybe it’s just me but meeting people has never come easy to me. I am an introvert through and through, and it almost goes against my nature to intentionally be outgoing.
In the beginning, I had to force myself to talk to people. The easiest way is just to be really friendly. Depending on the country, I’ve found the majority of people love friendly solo travelers. It’s less intimidating than when you’re in groups and it just works.
On top of that when I’m traveling I try to have a “say yes” policy when people invite me to things.
Of course, I judge the situation and definitely say no if I feel unsafe or weird, but often times just putting yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding.
These are the moments I tend to treasure the most on the road.
6. Use travel apps to make friends
Travello is a free app that allows you to connect with other travelers in your area and find your new travel mate.
You can also find people to go on travel adventures with before you’ve left home, if you’re really nervous.
Another app that is similar is UNBLND, which allows you to connect with people based on your interests. If you’re looking for a solo female travel buddy, then GAFFL is one of the best apps for finding another female travel companion.
You can also find travel and volunteers opportunities with Workaway or Worldpackers, which allows you to meet other people while volunteering. This is a great way to allow you to travel for longer as you can save money on accommodation, as well as find a travel partner.
The International Greeter Association or The Global Greeter Network is a non-profit organization that connects locals and travelers. It’s a great way to mingle with the locals and find new friends in the city.
7. Use Facebook groups
Facebook is a great resource for travellers. There are usually special interest groups for every city or country, where travellers can come together and ask for advice and of course, meet the perfect travel buddy.
It’s one of the best platforms out there because it’s free and everyone uses it. The only downside is that you have to wait for admins to approve your comments (most of the time) which means you may have to wait for an answer.
You should also use your common sense when meeting people you meet online. Can you verify this person is a real person? Make sure to meet them in a public place.
Twitter and Instagram are also social media platforms where you can meet other people online, but make sure to check their profile and chat with them before you meet them.
8. Try couchsurfing
Couchsurfing might be a bit old school now, but it’s still popular in some countries such as in Europe. It allows you to stay on the couch of a local, usually for free, as a way of getting to know a local in the city.
The idea is that when that person is traveling to your country, you offer the same courtesy.
Staying with a local is a great way to get recommendations for what to do in a city, and to get a more authentic cultural experience.
9. Hit up the internet forums
Like Facebook, forum websites like Reddit are a great way to connect with people. You can find subreddits for people looking for a travel friend in a particular country or city.
Like Facebook, you need to wait for someone to respond, and you also run the risk of meeting a stranger online who might not be who they say they are.
Follow my advice above when meeting people online. Verify their profiles, arrange to meet in a public place, and follow your gut.
Final Thoughts on Finding The Best Travel Buddies
So there you have it, those are my top tips for finding a fellow traveler to go on a travel adventure with.
As you can see, there are many ways you can meet people when out on the road, sometimes at the click of a button!
Wherever you plan to go, whatever your gender, or however you choose to travel, I hope these tips help you find your new best travel friend!