Six Steps for Making Friends while Traveling Solo

I’ve been traveling solo from city to city for the past 4 months, and, boy let me tell you, the road can be a lonely one. Yes, I value the time that I get to spend with myself, and yes, I’ve gotten to know my mind and heart even more intimately over the past few months. That being said, there is something about meeting new people and having human connection that simply cannot be found within yourself. In my experience over the last few months I’ve found that making friends on the road is essential to staying sane as well as maintaining my own happiness. So, here are some steps that work well for me, and, it is my hope, that they work well for you.

Step 1: Feel Comfortable Being Alone

Austin Hunt's Travels in Salt Lake CityThere is a difference between being alone and being lonely. When you are alone, you are simply in a state of being by yourself; your mental and emotional state can be whatever though. For example, you can be alone and also happy, jubilant, excited, and all the other bag of emotions. When you are lonely, you are in a state of being alone and unhappy with that reality. Being alone is great; being lonely is not so much. In my experience, I find it much easier to connect with people in a new city and on my travels when I accept, fully that I am alone by choice. In this state, it is my decision to reach out to people or to not. In that I find a lot of confidence.

So, when you start to feel lonely, work on embracing that reality and take yourself on a date, grab a drink, read a book, or do anything that you love to do when you are alone. After a little bit of time, you will find that being alone is actually a great place to be mentally. And, in meeting new people while traveling solo, the first step towards making new friends.

Also, here’s a picture of me from earlier today on a walk with my trusty backpack and my childhood teddy bear, Meowie. Salt Lake City has been an interesting trip and I highly recommend visiting if you love mountains, skiing, and outdoor activities.

Step 2: Warm Up to the New City and Turn Your Phone to Airplane Mode

When you are alone and in a new city, it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed. Actually, in my experience, it is assured. So, what I’ve found that works for me is to turn off my phone and become fascinated with the city around me. What’s it like? What do the buildings look like? The landscape? How does the city breathe? And I really mean that, how does the city breathe?

I’ve noticed that phones can easily become a crutch in an uncomfortable situation. It will be very tempting, but really, give yourself the opportunity to be present and experience what wherever you are feels like. You will be very glad you did.

Step 3: Stay at a Hostel. Hostels are Hubs for Travelers

Hostels are a Travelers dream place to stay. They are cheap, often offer free breakfast, and are a travel hub for people all around the world. You will have to share a room with multiple people in a bunk setup, but it is definitely worth it. I recommend look up hostels on Hostelworld. People at hostels are usually in a similar boat to you and very open to connecting with new people. Go out and strike up a conversation and share stories.

Side note, please check reviews and make sure that the hostel you are staying at is safe and will make you feel comfortable. I usually compare reviews on Hostelworld as well as their reviews on Google. 99% of hostels are great, but there is always the occasional 1% that might be literally the worst.

Step 4: Find a Social Activity that you Love to Do and Do It

You know that thing you love to do? Do it! Find people with common ground to you. This will increase the likelihood of connecting with new people with the added bonus of doing what you love. Personally I think bars and nightclubs are the WORST PLACE TO MEET NEW PEOPLE! People tend to be anti-connection and defensive at bars and nightclubs, and, in addition, you will spend a ton of money.

I personally love social dancing; my current love is West Coast Swing with Zouk being a close second. So, whenever I land in a city, I find when the next dance social is and I put that on my calendar. I’ve never regretted going to a dance, and I’ve made so many great friends in this fashion.

Step 5: Put Yourself out There, and Tell People that You are New to the City

To meet new people you are going to have to positively interrupt people’s days and talk to them. Don’t worry though, you have a secret weapon: you are new to the city. I’ve found this true to almost everywhere I’ve traveled: people love helping people out. The only thing, they don’t know that you are new to the city, so it’s your job to inform them. Now, you probably won’t become friends with them, but they can give you advice on where to go to meet people, coffee to drink (yum), and activities and sites to see.

Step 6: Realize that You are Only Here for a Few Days; Let that Motivate you to Reach Out

To build up your personal motivation to put yourself out there, put yourself in a state of mind that you will only be there for a little while so you might as well. The consequences for putting yourself out there are low; the consequences for not putting yourself out there is, well, loneliness.┬áThis is, in my opinion, the best way I’ve found to find new people and make new friends. Traveling solo, can at times, feel like a constant battle of chess between your ego and your subconscious . So, why not make them work together!

Lastly, enjoy yourself my fellow traveler.

You are on an adventure just like you read in the stories that you love. Life is truly a gift and there are so many new and amazing things that are going to happen to you that you don’t even know of nor could ever imagine. Throw yourself into the unknown, make great new friends, and experience life! Until next time!

Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin is the lead writer and creator of Points of Connection. He's been studying dating, relationships, and how to build authentic intimacy for over 9 years now. You can find him sipping away at a cup of coffee at a local shop making friends with the stranger next to him.