Travel friendships can make a journey that much more rewarding. Here are some of the key benefits of meeting people as a solo traveller, plus tips for finding friendship on the road.
About the author: Efia is the solo travel blogger behind Effy Talks Life. Her mission is to empower women to ‘make life an adventure’ and travel alone.
When travelling alone, the prospect of meeting other travellers can be equal parts nerve-wracking and exhilarating.
On top of all the emotions, there’s a practical question – how do I even meet people when travelling?
One of the biggest solo travel myths is that if you choose to travel solo, you’ll spend your entire trip alone. In actual fact, of the many benefits of travelling alone, all the incredible connections you get to make is up there with my favourites.
In this post, I’m going to outline some of the many benefits of meeting people when travelling, including the how and where of making the magic happen.
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6 benefits of travel friendships
1. Lack of time to make new connections in day to day life
As adults, it can often be challenging to make new connections. Between spending most of our lives at work or asleep and trying to maintain our existing social lives, it’s fair to say our lifestyles don’t always allow much room for blossoming friendships.
Keeping in contact with the friends we already have can sometimes feel like a stretch!
When travelling solo, you have an abundance of time that provides the perfect opportunity for meeting other travellers, especially solo travellers.
2. There’s less pressure on the connection
Another benefit of meeting other travellers on your solo trip is that there’s no pressure on the connection.
There are no preconceived notions of who you should be and how you should behave. No one’s judging you against past versions of yourself. If you’ve ever wanted to reinvent yourself, there really is no better time.
This also means if you meet someone who you don’t really vibe with, you can walk away from the conversation. You don’t need to worry about how they might perceive you, because chances are you’ll never see them again.
I’ve certainly had instances in the past where I just didn’t feel the connection with someone and politely excused myself, never to return. In day-to-day life, there are social pressures that make that so much harder to do!
3. You might make a friend for life
On the flip side, the lack of pressure makes it easy to connect deeply with someone in a short period of time. You can find yourself being very vulnerable with someone who’s essentially a stranger.
On a trip to Hawaii last year, I instantly bonded with another traveller I met at a hostel. We spent the day together, then the rest of the weekend in Hawaii together. Although we’d only known each other for a matter of hours, I felt like we’d known each other a lifetime.
After Hawaii, we went our separate ways to continue our trips. But two weeks later, we were reunited in LA and spent over a week travelling the US together.
The stories from that trip probably aren’t appropriate to share with the world. So let’s just say, champagne and tequila is simultaneously a recipe for disaster and a beautiful friendship.
Now, having both returned home to Melbourne, we see each other most weeks. I truly count her as one of my best friends. Be open to meeting other people because it just might lead to something spectacular.
4. Travel friendships can expand your horizons
When travelling solo, you have the opportunity to expand your horizons in so many ways. Often we take the easy way out and stick to what’s most comfortable. Sometimes we need a little nudge – a healthy dose of peer pressure.
I’d always considered myself to be an adventurous person before I travelled solo, but now I REALLY know what that word means.
I’ve willingly flung myself off suspended platforms (bungee jumping), climbed mountains in Vietnam, and scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef. New connections have helped me face my fear of heights head-on.
They’ve encouraged me to experiment with different types of food. To delve into new languages – although unfortunately, I’m not an expert in anything yet. Imagine what your new connections might teach you. Or what you might teach them!
5. … And challenge your worldview
There may be times when you meet people you don’t entirely see eye to eye with, and this can be a great lesson in challenging your worldview. Often when you build your friendship groups at home, you surround yourself with people who believe what you believe and see the world as you see it.
Additionally, the way social media algorithms work is by using personalisation to reflect our desires. Without meaning to, we create echo chambers in our lives. Things become…comfortable.
The way to get comfortable with discomfort? Hang out in new environments. Try new things. And lastly, spend time with people who don’t agree with you. Be open to changing your perspective. Or at least hearing someone out.
6. Travel friendships are a great way to build your networking skills
People always say ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. And that’s what makes networking such a valuable skill. It helps us to excel in just about every facet of our lives.
Although it can be nerve-wracking approaching people as a solo traveller, its just something that needs a little bit of practice. Making new connections while travelling solo helps you to flex that muscle. As a bonus, you get to make awesome new contacts, too!
That’s not to say you should only approach people if you think you’re going to get something out of it. No one likes a selfish Sally!
It’s more that meeting other travellers won’t just impact your travels – it can run so much deeper than that. As your inner circle expands, watch as the magic happens.
How to make friends when travelling solo
I know the prospect of befriending strangers can seem daunting. So I’ve broken down some steps to follow to make the process as seamless as possible.
Keep your head out of your phone. It can be a great safety blanket, but it makes you really unapproachable. When someone’s talking to you, really listen and engage with what they’re saying. Don’t just wait for your chance to respond.
We could all be so much better at this!
People love to talk about themselves. An ask is a great entrance into a conversation – whether it’s asking something personal, or something about the country you’re visiting.
Also, I’ve found when meeting other travellers, it’s usually the one time in your life where you can ask for the invite. If a group of people are going somewhere, it’s totally OK to ask if you can join. I’ve never once been turned down!
I go one step further and always compliment people. Never expecting anything in return, but just to be a nice person. You never know, your compliment could make someone’s day.
Remember that friend I made in Hawaii who’s now one of my closest friends? Our whole friendship started after I called over to her to tell her she had cute shoes!
Just be yourself. Remember if you have at least one friend in your life, you already have redeemable qualities that mean people would be lucky to know you!
Where to meet other solo travellers
- Facebook groups like Girls Love Travel and Women Who Travel
- Instagram – try engaging with others on the platform
- In person (through hostels, cooking classes, group tours, just about anywhere else)
- Through existing friends – do they know anyone in the area?
- Dating apps (if you’re only looking for friendships, make this very clear)
There are tonnes of ways to meet people when travelling solo. All it takes is a little courage to put yourself out there. Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t surrounded by a flurry of people at all times.
It can be really enjoyable to embrace some alone time when travelling solo. And remember – you can always come back to this blog post whenever you need an extra helping hand.
Final thoughts on travel friendships
I truly believe our connections with others are one of our greatest assets. The name ‘solo travel’ would indicate that it’s very much a personal journey. In honesty, I’ve learned it’s just as much about the people who impact us and who we influence along the way.
It’s my hope that if even in only a small way you’ve taken something from this post. And I just know (deep down, right to my pinky toes) that the travellers you meet are in for something really special if they’re lucky enough to be introduced to you.
Have you ever formed travel friendships on the road? What are your best tips for making friends as a solo traveller?
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