In the latest of a series of guest posts, Janice Waugh, author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook and publisher of Solo Traveler, Janice looks at ways to meet other travellers on the road when travelling solo. To keep up to date with Janice make sure to follow her on Twitter and like the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
The irony of travelling solo is that you need never be alone. In fact, I often pick up and travel with another person for a few days or more. But how is this done? Here are 10 tips:
1. Join a tour
If you’re travelling solo long term, take a break and join a tour. This will take all the responsibilities of finding accommodation, food, etc., off your shoulders while integrating you into a group of travellers for company.
2. Find the right restaurants
Some restaurants are better for solo travellers than others (the worldwide chain ‘Le Pain Quotidien’ is a great example – ed). Look for casual restaurants with communal tables or large bars that are good for socialising. Try a pub with a good kitchen as the atmosphere lends itself to meeting people.
3. Become a regular
If you’re settled in one place for a while, become a regular at the local green grocers, coffee bar, flower shop… People will notice you as a new regular, become curious and enter conversation.
4. Smile! Learn to chat with strangers
A smile is usually a good start. To keep the conversation going, master the art of the follow-up question. Ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. People love talking about their city, themselves, their thoughts and knowledge… take advantage of this with someone who looks interesting.
5. Go to events that interest you
Check out Meetup.com or the events calendar in a local paper and attend events that encourage mingling.
6. Find the right coffee shops
Coffee shops have become offices for freelance workers. Find the coffee shop that really attracts them and you’ll find a social scene. Conversations start easily.
7. Stay at hostels
This has to be in my top ten. At hostels you’ll meet like-minded travellers. I have often met people at hostels and spent a day or more with them.
8. Travel slow
Consider travelling by train or take a multi-night ferry to your next destination. Doing so, you’ll be in an enclosed area with other travellers for a period of time and it’s inevitable that you’ll meet people.
9. Find a local guide
Landing in a new city solo for the first time can be intimidating. Finding a guide to introduce you to the city is a great first step. When your guide is a local it means you’ll know somebody who knows their way around and maybe even meet somebody through them too.
10. Take classes
Whether it’s for a day, a week or more, taking classes is a great way to connect with others who share your interests. You’ll make new friends while learning new skills.Bottom line, the key to travelling solo without being lonely is to be outgoing. And, surprisingly, even introverts can learn to be outgoing when travelling.