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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Make Friends when Traveling Solo

Traveling alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be lonely. There are travelers and friendly people all over and if you want to meet them, you only need to seek them out and be open to new experiences. Don’t live your vacation life in a bubble. Get out and have fun while making new friends along the way.

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Solo travel has become very popular. People are leaving their lives behind and traveling full-time and just as many are taking relaxing getaways alone in order to have a little me time. If you’ve never traveled alone, it can be very freeing, since you don’t have to answer to anyone and can do whatever it is you want. Maybe you don’t have a travel companion and want to get out and see the world. Don’t let that stop you, because you’re never alone when you travel. Here are some ways to make friends while you’re jet setting around the globe.

Use Social Media
You use it for making friends around the world, asking for suggestions on where to have dinner and to discuss the latest episode of The Walking Dead, so why not use it to find people to hang out with when you travel? If you aren’t sure where you want to go, see where you have Facebook friends in cool places and message them about what they would recommend doing on your visit and suggest getting together when you are there. They probably would jump at the chance to show you their city and meet you in person. Turn those virtual friends into real ones!

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Hook up with friends’ friends
Just because you don’t have friends in vacation destinations doesn’t mean your friends don’t. Ask them if they have a friend, cousin or sister there that might be interested in meeting you. Chances are your awesome friends have equally awesome friends and family. Expand your social circle and maybe do a favor for your friend by delivering a gift for them. It’s almost certain that your friends will have talked you up and their friends will be psyched to meet you and possibly play tour guide for you while you’re there.

You like to do good deeds, right? “Voluntourism” is huge right now and it’s a great way to help people and travel at the same time. Join a group of volunteers anywhere in the world where you can do things like build houses, teach English or work on a farm. There are tons of ways to give your time and often you can stay and eat for free in exchange for your labor. You just need to come up with money to get there and back and for any outside activities you want to do while you’re there.

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Take a tour
Sightseeing all day by yourself can be fun. You can go at your own pace, see everything you want to see, stop to take as many photos as you wish or sit in the park all day watching people. Book a city tour and meet a bunch of like-minded people who are interested in the same things you are. Not all tours are created equal, so if you have taken one before and didn’t like it, try again. Walking tours are perfect ways to meet others and also get exercise while you do it. Make friends with your fellow tourists. It’s also a way to get some better photos of yourself at your destination.

There are solo people everywhere. Use Meetup to find people who are interested in the same things as you are. Someone starts a meet-up and gathers fun people through the website to enjoy an activity. These can be locals or tourists or a mixture of both. It’s hard to be anti-social when you’re hanging out with a group of people who you have something in common with. Heck, you can even use Meetup at home, too.

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Invite for a Bite
Plenty of people don’t like eating alone. There’s no shame in that. There are only so many meals you can eat while reading the newspaper, surfing the Internet on your phone or doing a crossword puzzle. Getting take-out is an option, but wouldn’t it be more fun to have a dining companion? Log onto Invite for a Bite and find other solo ladies looking to meet for a meal. You can use it for other activities as well. It’s a safe and easy way to meet friends around the world and share your travel stories with someone. They may even be able to give you ideas on what to do next.

Sit at the bar
When you eat out alone, sit at the counter or the bar and talk to locals, wait staff and bartenders. It’s a great way to learn more about your destination, get suggestions for other good places to eat and maybe even find someone who would like to do it with you. You can really get a feel for a city by hanging out with people in local pubs and eateries. You’d be surprised how many people will strike up a conversation with you seeing you there alone. It’s definitely an easy way to meet people, since the most outgoing people sit at the counter.

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Take a class
Maybe you always wanted to learn how to make coq au vin or macarons. Maybe you want to learn the hula or how to make a traditional lei. Whatever sounds fun to you, there is probably a class you can take when you travel. It’s also another fab way to meet locals and even other tourists. You’ll be learning a skill you hoped to acquire and be able to chat with others doing it too.

Go all-inclusive
If you’re worried about being alone when you travel solo, surround yourself with people who are interested in doing similar activities by going to an all-inclusive resort. You’ll meet other travelers who enjoy being catered to and you can hang around the resort with them. This also works on a cruise. Because most ships have dining arrangements, you have the chance at talking to other cruisers at each meal. Find your table curiously empty? Your wait staff is thrilled to talk about real life with passengers. They might be from one of your port cities and, even if they’re not, it’s fun to exchange suggestions on what to do in your hometowns. Talk about your favorite TV shows and books, in case they are looking for something to do on their downtime. When away from the dining room, connect with others during ship activities like bingo, trivia, classes, alcohol tastings and even excursions on port days.

There are heaps of ways to make friends while traveling if you don’t want alone time. You just need to be willing to put in the effort or know how to meet like-minded tourists and locals. Make some new acquaintances or even lifelong friends just by having the courage to get out and do it on your own. Check out this article on Travel + Leisure for the best countries for solo travel.

Have you ever traveled alone?

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