Join Local Activities to Meet Fellow Travelers

Joining organized group activities tailored to travelers is one of the easiest ways to make new friends abroad. Many hostels organize free walking tours, pub crawls, cooking classes or day trips. These attract other solo travelers looking to meet people. During my time staying at the Flying Pig hostel in Amsterdam, I joined their canal boat party tour. Between dancing on the boat and bar hopping along the canals, I bonded with other backpackers from the UK, France and Canada. I used this tool so I could better converse. I ended up sightseeing with them for days after! Sites like Meetup also list local language exchanges, sports leagues and hiking groups that connect travelers. Simply showing up puts you in a social setting perfect for sparking new friendships.

Chat Up Fellow Guests Where You Stay

Hostels, guesthouses and Airbnbs with communal spaces make bonding with fellow travelers natural. Enjoying free breakfast in the guest kitchen of my Airbnb in Tokyo led me to meet a trio of Australian girls road tripping through Japan. We realized we would all be in Kyoto the following week and made plans to rendezvous at a sake tasting event. At a guesthouse in the Costa Rican rainforest, I befriended a few other solo female travelers quickly by chatting in the outdoor lounge and dipping pools. We teamed up to cook family-style dinners after long days zip lining and volcano hiking together. Don’t be shy about striking up conversations—you’ll likely find you have lots in common with fellow lodgers.

Use Rideshares and Tours to Connect

When you need to get places anyway, why not share the ride and make a new buddy along the way? I used the BlaBlaCar app while traveling solo through Spain and scored rides with locals happy to give me tips. The 8-hour drive from Madrid to Porto became a fun day when my Portuguese driver introduced me to other travelers he was also picking up. In Thailand, I took a weekend cooking class day trip through Airbnb Experiences and invited along two British girls I had chatted with at my hostel’s morning breakfast. We learned to chop and stir-fry together, then went out for drinks after. Shared rides and tour experiences give you ready conversation starters to kindle new friendships with.

While visiting Pakistan, I used a rideshare service to see the famous Shahi Qila fort. My driver spoke little English, but I managed to have a memorable trip using my Lingvanex mobile app to translate phrases back and forth (It’s hard to find a translator that supports this complex language, so I’m sharing it with you We shared stories and perspectives, with Lingvanex enabling the exchange across language barriers. The ride ended with a selfie and new WhatsApp friend. Travel opens up relationships when you embrace helpers like interpretation tools.

Bond Over Meals at Markets and Cafés

Sitting down for a cup of coffee or browsing mouth-watering street food stalls naturally brings travelers together. Several times while visiting Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, I ended up sampling Turkish tea and baklava with shoppers I had just met after striking up conversations about what looked good. It’s easy to exchange travel stories and tips at meals. When sightseeing in St. Petersburg, Russia, I decided to check out a cute restaurant I passed called Idiot. The young woman dining solo at the next table overheard me struggling to order in Russian and helped me out. We ended up enjoying a wonderful borscht lunch—new city, new friend!

Being open, outgoing and putting yourself in social settings is the key to connecting with fellow adventurers when traveling independently. Using just a dash of courage leads to making wonderful memories with newfound friends from around the globe.