Want to know how to meet people while travelling alone? Well, it’s easier than you think, and no, you don’t need to be a social butterfly. Right now you may be thinking ‘but isn’t it a bit weird to talk to random strangers?!’ To that we say, welcome to the dark side, friends! The normal rules of politely averted gazes and stiff upper lips don’t apply when you’re backpacking, and that’s a good thing. You’ll soon come to realise it’s the people you meet along the way who make travel such a rewarding experience.
Whether you’re eager to meet locals while travelling, or you’re searching for a fellow backpacker to get off the beaten track with, we’ve got you covered. Read on for 11 tips to help you meet people abroad like a pro.
1. Give everyone a chance
By keeping an open mind when you travel, you’ll meet different people from all over the world that you would never normally encounter back home. Differences such as age become irrelevant and people will surprise you time and time again.
You’ll quickly learn that there are interesting people in every bus, café, bookshop or club; everyone has something to offer if you give them a chance. And guess what, you are interesting too!
2. Always stay in a hostel when you travel abroad alone
📷 Lucky Lake Hostel in Amsterdam
Breaking news: Hostelworld recommends staying in a hostel. Seriously though, this is the best way to meet people while travelling solo; you simply can’t beat the social aspect of staying in a hostel. Don’t just take our word for it though: ask any solo traveller and they’ll say the same thing.
And don’t worry if dorms aren’t your thing – even when you stay in a private room in a hostel, you’re guaranteed a social stay. If you’re wondering where to meet people in a hostel, the answer is EVERYWHERE. Traditionally, the hostel bar has always been the heart of the social action, but if you’re not the partying type then fear not, there are still plenty of opportunities to meet other guests: whether you bond over the free pancakes at breakfast, or just find a chill buddy in the hostel’s adult ball pit.
3. One word: FOOD!
Sharing food with others is a guaranteed way to get the conversation flowing and meet new people, whether it’s in the hostel kitchen or a cool underground supper club. If you’re looking for an unusual dining experience that will help you meet both locals and other travellers, then our friends at Vizeat have just the ticket. From wine tasting on a Parisian rooftop to pasta making classes in Rome, there’s a foodie event to suit every taste. Delicious grub + loads of new friends – you’re welcome!
Book a social foodie experience with Vizeat
4. Learn the lingo if you want to meet locals while travelling
It’s usually possible to get by with just English and some imaginative sign language while travelling, but learning basic phrases in the local lingo will go a long way. And a little more than the basics will enable you to connect with people outside the familiar circle of English-speaking backpackers, giving you a whole new perspective on the destination you’re visiting.
So all you have to do is become fluent in every language on the planet. Easy, right? Well, it is if you’ve got the Hostelworld app on your phone: to help you meet locals while travelling and generally make life a little easier, we’ve launched a brand new feature that lets you converse like a near native in 43 languages and counting. All you need to do is download our free app, or update it if you’ve already got it, and select ‘Speak The World’ from the menu. It’s that simple.
5. Get an app that helps you meet people to travel with
For introverts, a carefully chosen app can be a quick and painless way to meet other people to travel with – whether you’re looking for someone to join you on a two-day trek into the jungle, or someone to travel India with for three months. There are quite a few apps to choose from, but we think Backpackr is the best. The app lets you check out other backpackers’ travel plans and itineraries to see if they match up with yours. And because it’s one of the most popular, you’ll be able to find fellow travellers in almost any destination.
For all you solo female travellers out there worried about unwanted attention, Backpackr even lets you configure your settings so that only other female travellers can contact you. Alternatively, give Tourlina a spin – it’s the first female only app that helps you meet people to travel with.
6. Hostel activities are the BEST way to meet people
From surf lessons to Russian dumpling classes, beach picnics to rooftop yoga classes, hostels offer so many cool and often completely FREE events and activities.
And guess what? They’re an amazing way to meet other travellers. Whether you’re sharing your love of food in a Thai cooking class, or laughing at how bad you both are at kitesurfing, you’re guaranteed to have fun and bond over the shared experience. And if all else fails, you’ve always got the hostel bar crawl – the backpacker’s rite of passage and still the best way to meet people in a hostel.
7. Consider a group tour
As fun and liberating as solo travel can be, every now and again it can be nice to be part of a group again and not have to make all the plans by yourself. If you’ve been travelling alone for a while, you may want to consider joining a group tour for a few weeks.
The tours from our friends at Busabout are great for solo travellers, because their hop on hop off service allows you to create your own itinerary from their recommendations and decide when you leave each destination. You’ll have all the flexibility you love, but without the hassle of organising everything yourself – they even drop you off and pick you up from your hostel doorstep. And you’ll be sharing your trip with a busload of awesome travellers looking to get off the beaten track and have fun together.
Book an adventure with Busabout
8. Be flexible with your plans
The thing about travelling solo, is that you’ll meet SO many new people, often just for an evening before you all go your separate ways. But when you find someone you click with, there’s no reason why you can’t change your plans and go on a little adventure together. That’s the beauty of being young, free and backpacking, right?
Even if it’s not possible to charge off together right away, it’s worth staying in touch, because who knows, before long your paths could cross again later on in your trip.
9. Party with the locals
If you love a good party, and want to meet locals while travelling then the ‘Party with a Local’ app is a MUST. The app connects you with party-loving locals in almost any destination, helping you avoid the overpriced tourist bars and clubs.
Just don’t forget to return the favour when you’re back in your hometown for good backpacker karma and the perfect antidote to the post-travel blues.
Download Party with a Local for iOS and Android (Free)
10. Don’t worry so much!
This is by far the most important one: stop worrying. Most people who are travelling are open-minded and want to meet new people. You don’t need clever chat up lines or ice breakers to meet people while travelling. Just be yourself, have fun. Most people will be happy to talk to you, so be confident; you’re no doubt pretty cool if you have the guts to travel abroad alone, so don’t ever forget that!
And if you just don’t click with anyone where you are, don’t sweat it: your tribe may well be waiting for you just around the corner – in the next city, the next hostel, or the next island.
11. Meet people abroad who love what you love
From wine tasting on a Parisian rooftop to skip-the-line tickets to the British Museum, our friends at Musement help you discover and book cool events in cities around the world. They work with locals to find the best things to do in each city, and then organise everything for you so you can concentrate on having fun. And the best bit is that you’ll get to meet people from all over the world who love the same things as you, whether that’s art or cycling.
Book a social adventure with Musement
Got a tip for the best way to meet people while travelling alone? Or just want to give a shout out to a random stranger who made your trip more awesome? Tell us about it in the comments below 👇