Five Ways to Make Friends While Traveling Solo

I had always wanted to travel solo. I’d done plenty of trips with family and friends and figured this was the logical next step. This past August, I took my first solo trip, spending 4 weeks on my own and 2 weeks with friends that live in Europe. Why did I do it? Well, partly to prove that I could, and partly because I like to see how I deal with situations that toss me so far out of my comfort zone that I can no longer see it (the zone, that is). I’m a masochist like that.

Solo travel means learning how to take good selfies. How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo - Great tips on how to travel solo without being lonely from Passport & Plates Blog!

Solo travel means learning how to take good selfies.

Before I left, I was uncomfortably aware that I could very easily spend most of the trip taking a forced vow of silence. Luckily, I managed to find plenty of ways to meet people and make friends while traveling. And guess what? None of these ways involved me having to share my room with strangers, because frankly, the last thing I wanted to do as a solo female traveler was to worry about the state of my valuables.

And so dear readers, I share with you, my secrets. Also known as five ways to make friends while traveling solo.

1. Free walking tours:

These are everywhere, especially in Europe. They’re also a magnet for both backpackers (most of whom want to make friends) and for solo travelers (ditto). Every time I went on one, I made a new friend or three, all of whom were my travel companions for the day. Easy peasy. My favorite is Sandeman’s, but there are plenty of companies that do them.

2. Online communities/events:

Apparently, there are a ton of online groups and events that connect you with other travelers and help you make friends while traveling. Silly me didn’t discover any of these until I returned to Los Angeles, but better believe I’ll be using these on all of my upcoming trips. As a female traveler, I love Girls Love Travel, a Facebook group. With tens of thousands of members, it’s easy to find someone to hang out with in virtually any country. There’s also a Facebook group called Men Who Travel, which I’m sure is equally cool. You can also find events on Meetup or on Couchsurfing. Did you know that Couchsurfing has events? I didn’t either. You’re welcome.

3. Travel apps:

Again, this is another resource that I was dumb enough not to research. But they exist, and members are active. Outbound App, Backpackr, and Wandermates are a few examples. Each app is slightly different, but they all help you connect with other travelers. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Volunteer:

This suggestion really only works if you have some extra time on your trip, or if you’re traveling for an extended period of time. But, if you want to volunteer in exchange for housing and new friends, the experience is guaranteed to be unforgettable. WWOOF, HelpX, and Worldpackers are some good resources to start. There are also country-specific options too! I volunteered as an English speaker at Pueblo Ingles.

5. Rideshare:

Yes, ridesharing is exactly what it sounds like: a euphemism for hitchhiking. But before you dismiss it, hear me out. It doesn’t have to be a creepy thumb-out-on-the-side-of-the-road experience. Instead, think of it as catching a ride with a friend going in your direction. The only service I’ve ever used is Blablacar, and I never felt unsafe. In fact, I ended up having dinner with the couple that drove me. Essentially, drivers post where they’re going, and you pay online and join in on their ride if it works with your schedule. All the drivers have reviews, so you can thoroughly vet them and make sure nobody will kidnap you. Ridesharing is a fast growing market in Europe, and much more fun and economical than a bus or train ride.

So there you have it. Five great ways to make friends while traveling. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with solo traveling for the sake of being alone, but I often find that spontaneous encounters oftentimes make travel that much more memorable.

What do you think? Did I miss any? How do you meet people and make friends while traveling solo?

How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo - Great tips on how to travel solo without being lonely from Passport & Plates Blog!

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  • Great post! I hadn’t heard about most of those apps! I will definitely be checking them out! #GWT

    • Sally Elbassir

      Yes, you should! It’s always nice to know you can find a friend on the road. Although GWT on its own is pretty amazing as well!

  • Way to go, Sally! I am glad you have already experienced how it is to travel solo! For those girls who haven’t done so, they are missing half of their lives! :3

    • Sally Elbassir

      Thanks Grätchi! I was definitely freaking out about it before I went but now I would definitely do it again! Have you traveled solo before? Would love to hear some of your tips if you have!

  • innercompasstravel

    Nice! Even if I’m not traveling solo, I’m going to use these apps and tools to meet more people 🙂

    • Sally Elbassir

      That’s a great idea! It’s always nice to branch out and meet people whether you’re at home or on the road with someone else!

  • I have actually never heard of any of those apps! Hopefully they are available on Android (stupid iOS … grrr). Great tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Sally Elbassir

      Hahah this used to always be my issue when I had an Android as well! I think the majority should be on there, though! There’s this one learning app that’s free on Android and costs $30 on iOS – so sometimes Android users have the advantage!

  • Nice one, Sally! I agree with this advice, it’s a great way to get started making friends wherever you go. I actually teach people social skills and friendship here: https://getthefriendsyouwant.com

    Again, good advice, here!
    – Paul

  • Magpie

    Hi! We’re a solo female travel network for women all over the world to make friends with each other! Would you consider putting us in your online communities paragraph? We’d be thrilled!

    • Hello! I’d love to include you, but I noticed you’re only in a few cities at moment. Please contact me once you’ve expanded a bit since all the recommendations in this post are for apps / communities that are global. I’d be happy to include you. Thanks 🙂