Sunday, June 25th, 2017

How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo


One of the questions I get asked most often is how I make so many friends while traveling on my own.

A lot of people think that if you travel solo, you’re alone nearly all of the time.  Well, that couldn’t be more untrue — I’m hardly ever alone!

One of the nice things about traveling is that even if you’re shy, it’s easy to make conversation with people around you.  If nothing else, you have travel in common!

Here are six of the ways I make friends while traveling solo:

1. Stay in hostel dorms.

Staying in a hostel dorm is the easiest way to make friends, hands down.  It would be unnatural not to make conversation with those around you — and you’ll soon be sucked into the “Where are you from?  Where have you been?  How long are you traveling?” conversation that will follow you everywhere.

You can meet people while staying in private rooms at hostels, but trust me — it’s so much easier in the dorms.

Case Study: I was hanging out in the dorm when Matt arrived, and we soon met Kelly and Zach — and experienced Cambodian high-end nightlife, far from any tourists!

2. Hang out in hostel bars.

Hostel bars are where I met most of my close friends.  Whether you’re there for a crazy night out or just to hang out while playing cards, with or without a pitcher of beer, hostel bars are the social epicenter of backpacker hangouts!

Your guidebook will probably indicate which establishments in town are either “party” hostels or good places to meet travelers.  Those are the places where you should spend time, regardless of where you’re sleeping.

Case Study: I first hung out with Chris, Jon and Mona at the Monkey Republic bar in Sihanoukville.  We then ran into each other at the Garden Village bar in Siem Reap, and after that, we traveled together to Bangkok, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang!

3. Make friends on transit.

Every single time I’ve been on multi-hour transportation, I’ve made a friend.  All you need to do is strike up a conversation and see where it goes.

When you’re stuck in one place for hours, friendships have a way of forming!  (Maybe it’s the 33-hour drive, almost getting rejected at the border and having to stand out in the cold rain.)

Case study: Xavier and I were seated next to each other on the 13-hour bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  We spent about three hours talking nonstop, and ended up hanging out both in Chiang Mai and Pai.

4. Do trips, activities and excursions.

Whether you do an adventure sports activity, like bungee jumping, or something completely different, like drinking snake blood, you inevitably end up getting to know some new people.  Just make sure you have the right holiday insurance for what you’re doing!

Find something that interests you, learn people’s names, and keep hanging out.  It seems like tons of activities naturally progress to the bar afterward, as well!

Case Study: My awesome Vietnam friends — Dave, Darren, Ste, Mike, Sander and Jitske — and I kept meeting up in Hanoi. It was Snake Village, then the Australian Day celebration, and finally the Halong Bay trip.  By the time we ran into each other on the overnight bus to Hue, we naturally stuck together — and stayed together through Saigon.

5. Use Couchsurfing to meet people.

Couchsurfing is WAY more than just free lodging!  I like to use Couchsurfing as a way to meet friends — locals, expats and travelers passing through!

A word to the wise — if you’re a girl and logging in at a new location for the first time, be prepared to be deluged with requests from guys.  It’s definitely a self-esteem boost!

Case Study: In Buenos Aires, before I even arrived, I connected with tons of Couchsurfers.  Once I landed, I was invited to Thanksgiving dinners, club nights out, birthday parties, concerts and more!  I met tons of people the first night and was treated like a long-lost friend the rest of my time there.

6. Find your community abroad.

I have to admit that this is much easier for me as a travel blogger.  But if you’re part of a global community or international organization, do some research and see if you can meet up with potential members!

If you don’t have a community, it could be as simple as meeting up with a friend of a friend or a family friend’s family member.  That’s all it takes.

Case Study: Wherever I go, I meet travel bloggers and digital nomads, like Cody and Matt above.  This Friday, I only have about three hours to spare in London before leaving for Chester — so I’m going to spend those three hours hanging out with a few travel blogger friends!

So if you think solo travel is about being all alone all the time, think again.  Solo travel is anything but solo, and I’m living proof of that.
How to make friends while traveling solo | Adventurous Kate

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64 Responses to “How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo”
  1. Monica says:

    Great post and some really good advice. I think being alone makes it even easier to make friends, in fact, it can be hard to get time alone when your travelling solo because people are always conscious that they should make an effort to include you.

    The backpacking scene is so different to the ‘real world’. If I see a person sat in a bar by themselves I would always make an effort to have a little chat.

    I found that travelling as part of a couple can sometimes be the hardest way to meet people. Couples always seem happy together and you’re never sure whether or not you should interrupt. And then groups of guys or groups of girls rarely approach a couple.

  2. SHABL says:

    The simple answer is go for beers when people are going. It happens every night and is a sure win.

    Traveling as a couple is only cool if both members are outgoing, if not it’s an “ISOLATION STATION” aka no good.

  3. This post was very reassuring. I’ve traveled solo before, but only during short trips in Europe. I’m going to be embarking on my own trip around SE Asia next year, by myself, and I will be heeding your advice.

    This is making me feel more excited and much less apprehensive!

    • ksr says:

      If u traveling Asia ..I am also interested pls tellme

    • Ray Tan says:

      Hi Amanda
      I’m not sure why I’m replying this but I know what it’s like to travel alone. So if u r in sunny Malaysia or south east Asia, you are welcome to look me up and let me show you around.!!! 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    good advice! I’m trying to ovvercome my fear of going places alone, but you make it sound so easy! x

  5. Mark Powers says:

    Great post, Kate! And cool that you connected with Cody over there!

  6. Jason says:

    Yep, Kate, you got the point. Sometimes for me it’s even easier to make friends while traveling than at home. When I travel it’s somehow different..

    By the way, I recommend reading also this guide about making friends –

  7. Alex says:

    This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written. I think this is the number one question people have when heading off for a solo trip… and you answered it well!

  8. I guess I always just thought you can easily make friends for all the reason you mentioned however though most of them as fly by night. You meet them and then a few days later they are gone. Possibly never to see or hear from again. That thought is what would get a me the most not so much as traveling alone.

  9. Nicole M says:

    Hello Kate, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading you blog for awhile now and I love it! This advice is great and I love hearing your stories. Definitely giving me inspiration for my future travels!

  10. Celinette says:

    Well I just found out about your blog, and I really like it, as I also am a solo female traveler. It’s true than even being shy, you meet people. The only thing I don’t do is go to a bar by myself, so yes I went to sihanoukville, I even stopped by the monkey republic bar but couldn’t stay, too shy to be in a “partying” bar by myself, it just seems odd.
    I also use couchsurfing, so far I’ve met great people, but I dont receive any emails when I first log in 😉 how should I take that ?! 🙂

  11. Heather says:

    Awesome post! So few people use couchsurfing but I just love it! Met up with some fun locals in hawaii that seriously made my trip! i was worried the first time I traveled alone in israel and within a day I’d already made a few friends and made plans to travel to another city with them during my stay! I was surprised how easy it was to meet people and even more surprised and how quickly you can bond with a stranger!

  12. HI, I am a regular reader of your blog and love to read you. Thank you very much for sharing such an inspiring post and sharing effective ways to increase social circle, while traveling.

  13. IPS Khurana says:

    Great Post Kate.

  14. Keith says:

    Hi Kate, great points! Unfortunately, for men I believe it is quite different. A guy traveling alone will not be able to meet as many people as a pretty girl. Its a lot easier for a woman to be accepted, especially when they are good looking. Guys, be prepared to feel a bit stupid at times when trying to talk to others. Gravitate towards those that send good vibrations.

  15. eli says:

    Good one, I also recommend , they have many nice meetings and it is a great way to meet people while on the move

  16. Mike says:

    This gives me a lot of great ideas since I’ll be going to teach in Spain solo. Thanks Kate!

  17. aurora says:

    Scuba diving is a great one because you have to be paired with a buddy 🙂

  18. Arjun says:

    Reading this article makes me want to pack my bags and travel – Both to see a new place and to meet interesting people. Had gone to Thailand 2 years back and we ended up staying in hotels, and yes, did not meet any people. The last 2 days we stayed in a hostel and it was one of those nights was the best nights I had over there.

    Agree with you on this! Nice one.


  19. Joe says:

    I think it is because you are a girl. I don’t have many friends in general, only a few close ones. I tend to be a very quiet person that comes off as intimidating to others. I’d love more friends, but people just don’t like me.

    • Jess says:

      Hi Joe

      Just want to say that I often feel the same as you and althougg I am not always quiet I still feel like people just don’t like me but remember not everyone is going to like you. I don’t like everyone I meet but you don’t have to be best friends. I would keep asking them questions about themselves and hopefully they will get talking but some people are hard work. Just try to relax, don’t try too hard and react to the other person so if they don’t look interested try another topic, if they don’t get your jokes try asking them about favourite music. Some people just aren’t very nice and can be shallow but you won’t be missing out on anything but don’t let it put you off. Pretend to be more confident than you feel and you will have a headstart! Not always possible but definitely possible!

  20. Puneet says:

    Hey… this article really helped… i am travelling to Cyprus this December alone for the first time and really needed some in sites… It really helped. I love making friends but never traveled alone abroad and made frds.. really looking forward to this. Cheers!

  21. mariah says:

    Matt is hot! Those muscles *_* aha!

  22. Whitney says:

    I’m going on my first solo trip and to Southeast Asia!

    I am hoping to come back with some great memories and a bunch of new friends 🙂

  23. Jack says:

    I am a 24 year old male. All my life I have wanted to travel but the thought of doing it alone is holding me back! I have a good social circle at the moment, but due to money/circumstances can not find anyone interested in travelling with me. I would like to travel SEA and Newzealand/Aus. Is there any male solo travellers out there that can put me in the picture. Would I not have too much trouble meeting new people and have fun? Or would I end up alone and miserable? Cheers.

  24. wandalena08 says:

    Hi, nice blog 🙂 Do you have a problem with guys trying to be funny with you even though you just want to be friends or just hang out with, have a travel companion? 9/10 guys (caucasian usually) i met are touchy, how do you get them to not be and just stay platonic? Are other women having this problem? I wear glasses and am decently dressed, not exposing myself, am chinese , petite. Thanks for any advice.

  25. M says:

    This is quite hard if you’re an Asian. Most of the travelers who are Westerners look down on you.

  26. Deaf backpacker says:

    I am deaf and I was a solo backpacker in South America and Thailand. The main challenge for me was communication with hearing backpackers. Before I went ahead to trips, I was worried so much how to deal with hearing backpackers if they would accept me as being a deaf person. Overall, my experiences, I sometimes had rough times and wonderful times. I just learned something was simply to move on although some backpackers distracted away from me. I simply took easy and ignored specific people and moved on continuously to meet some wonderful backpackers who were interested in communicating with me in sign language. Also the key is to be assertive person and not be passive!!!
    Oh boy I still miss my trips!!!

  27. I very much agree with the going on excursions and participating in activities to find people you most connect with. In my experience, staying in hostels (or hanging out in hostels in general) was not the experience i was looking for. I am more interested in meeting locals than travelers. Would love to get your thoughts on my post about making friends while NOT staying in hostels:

  28. Sheree says:

    Great post. I leave for my backpacking trip in 50 days so I’ll use these tips.

    Sheree 😊

  29. Michael says:

    It’s also really easy to start talking to people cooking in hostel kitchens. You’re sharing a bench or stove and end up talking about where you went that day or what you’re planning tomorrow. Inevitably you’ll end up traveling the next day together.

  30. Hsn says:

    I wish I have read this way before!!! But now better than never. Already signed up on couchsurfing and even the other options mentioned can work really well.
    Thanks for posting!!

  31. As someone who gets nervous concerning making friends abroad, this offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’m about to set off for Bali and now I know for sure to stay in hostel dorms, something I was hesitant about doing before.

    I always find other travellers are just as keen to get to know new people as I am, especially if they are travelling solo aswell!

  32. First of all exelent article! I traveled solo so many times before and for me make friends on transit is one of my favorites.

  33. nina says:

    im heading on my first solo trip this august. im nervous and excited at the same time. im super shy , socially awkward and get nervous meeting people. But really do want to make some friends and not be by myself all the time. your article is very helpful and reassuring.

  34. adi says:

    What about if u are travelling at an older age
    Such your 40s and you are not a backpacker and want to meet people similar to you?

    How would you go about it?


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