The Solo Adventurer’s Guide to Making Friends Abroad
The Solo Adventurer’s Guide to Making Friends Abroad

Travelling solo can be one of the most rewarding and liberating experiences, but for many, the thought of being in a foreign place without a friend in sight can be daunting. The beauty of solo travel is not just in the new landscapes or experiences but in the potential to meet new people, form deep connections, and grow as an individual through those interactions. If you're someone who's wandered the globe alone, or if you're considering it for the first time, this guide is for you. Here, we'll explore a multitude of ways to turn a solo adventure into a tapestry of human connections.

The Mindset For Meeting New People

Before we get into the specifics, adopting the right mindset can make all the difference. Travelling solo often means you're more approachable to others, so use it to your advantage. Be open and friendly, maintain a positive outlook, and remember that everyone you meet was once a stranger—sometimes, all it takes is a smile and a hello to bridge that gap.

Cultivate a Positive Attitude

Positive energy is magnetic. When you're feeling good and radiating positivity, you'll naturally attract people with similar vibes. Engage with the world around you, and others are more likely to engage with you.

Be Open to Spontaneity

Some of the best travel experiences come from the ones you didn't plan for. Be open to last-minute changes and don't be afraid to say yes to unexpected invitations or opportunities. Spontaneity can lead to some truly amazing encounters.

Practise Social Confidence

Even if you're not the most social person back home, practice boosting your confidence when striking up conversations. The beauty of solo travel is the chance to reinvent yourself a little, and confidence can go a long way in making new connections.

Traditional Methods For Socialising

From language exchange meetups to hostel bars, these methods are tried and true for a reason.

Hostel Environments

Hostels are a hub for solo travellers. Stay in a dorm room to immediately connect with others or hang out in the common areas. Hostel staff often know of group activities or local events where you can join in and socialise.

Group Tours and Activities

Joining a day tour or a class in a local activity gives you shared experiences to bond over. Whether it's a walking tour or a cooking workshop, the common interest can spark conversation with fellow participants.

Local Events and Festivals

Check local event listings for cultural festivals, music gigs, or sports events. These are great places to not only experience the local scene but also meet people who share common interests.

Digital Tools For Making Connections

In today's connected world, there are numerous apps and platforms designed to help travellers connect.


This platform allows you to join or create groups based on common interests. Look for meetups in your current city; there's likely a group of locals and travellers meeting up to explore similar passions.


Beyond free accommodation, Couchsurfing is a community of people willing to share experiences and local advice. Attend a Couchsurfing event or check the 'Hangouts' feature to meet up with other travellers.

Social Media and Travel Forums

Join travel-related Facebook groups or forums like Reddit's r/travel. Often, there are meetups being organised, or you might find someone else looking for a travel companion or just to meet for a coffee.

Non-Verbal Cues That Welcome Interaction

Sometimes, it's not about what you say but how you convey it.

Open Body Language

Standing with your arms uncrossed and facing outward is more inviting for conversation. It's a subtle cue to others that you're approachable.

Eye Contact and Smiling

A friendly smile and making eye contact can do wonders for breaking the ice. They're universal signals of friendliness and can signal to others that you're happy to chat.

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Approaching Groups Wisely

Groups of people can be intimidating to approach, so do it in a way that's non-intrusive. Look for groups where someone has left a bit of open body language, or join a conversation in which you have something to add.

Cultural Sensitivity When Meeting Strangers

While travelling, you'll encounter people from all walks of life. It's crucial to be aware of and respect local customs and social norms.

Research and Learn Beforehand

Understanding a bit of the local culture can help you avoid unintentionally offensive behaviour. This includes how to greet others, typical social rules, and what topics are best to avoid.

Pay Attention to Cues

If someone seems hesitant or unresponsive, they might not be comfortable in the interaction. Respect their boundaries and be prepared to gracefully exit a conversation that isn't mutual.

Be Respectful of Personal Space

Not all cultures have the same concept of personal space, but it's wise to start with a bit more distance and mirror the body language of your conversational partner.

Dealing with Rejection

Not every conversation will lead to a lasting friendship, and that's okay.

Don't Take It Personally

Rejection can sting, but often, it has more to do with the other person's mood or situation than it does with you. Don't dwell on it. Move on with the same open attitude and you'll connect with others soon enough.

Focus on the Positive Encounters

For every missed connection, there's likely a more promising one waiting around the corner. Remember the fun interactions and the friends you've made on your travels.

Enjoy Your Solo Time

Solo travel isn't just a backup plan; it's a wonderful way to enjoy your independence. Use your time alone to reflect, explore, and appreciate the unique experience that travelling solo provides.

Nurturing New Connections

You've made the connection—now what? Here's how to turn a hello into a lasting bond.

Exchange Contact Information

Whether it's social media, a phone number, or an email address, make sure you can stay in touch. A simple "It was great meeting you, can I add you on Instagram?" can keep the door open for future chats and even meetups.

Make Plans

Don't be shy about suggesting to meet up again later in your travels or down the road. Having a plan in place can solidify the connection.

Stay Connected

In the age of digital communication, it's never been easier to maintain friendships from afar. Regular check-ins, sharing travel advice, and being there for each other virtually can grow your global network of friends.

Final Thoughts

While the idea of meeting new people when travelling solo can be intimidating, the reality is often just the opposite. The world is full of kind strangers, interesting characters, and potential friends. By adopting the right mindset, utilising traditional and digital tools, and being aware of cultural sensitivities, you'll find that the solo traveller is never truly alone. Every conversation, whether brief or lengthy, is an opportunity for mutual enrichment.

Remember, connections formed during your travels can have a profound impact, and sometimes, the people you meet in passing end up playing significant roles in your life. Stay open, stay curious, and the world will open itself to you in ways you never thought possible. Your next adventure is not just about the places you'll see; it's about the people you'll meet along the way. Happy travels!