Many people are afraid of travelling alone as they feel that spending so much time in their own company might be emotionally difficult. Seasoned traveller, blogger and Like A Local editor Annes shares 17 tips on how not to feel lonely when travelling alone.
A wise man called Maxwell Maltz once said: “If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” Learn to be your own best friend you won’t feel lonely when travelling or in life in general.
If there’s a stranger on the train smiling at you, why not say: “Hello! How are you?” If you see another backpacker, why not ask: “Hey buddy, where are you going?” If you think that asking somebody to put sunscreen on your back at the beach is a stupid idea and sounds like you’re hitting on them, forget your prejudices and just go for it.
Hostels are the best places for making friends. Although most of the people you meet never become more than just hostel friends, there’s always a chance you’ll find a soulmate with whom you’ll stay friends with forever. Forget about fancy and lonely hotel rooms and open hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com in your browser, read the reviews and find the best social hostel there is. You’re guaranteed to meet lots of interesting people.
Couchsurfing is an online community of members with open hearts and open minds who offer travellers free accommodation in their homes. Oftentimes your host will also show you around the city, have a meal with you or simply just converse with you. So grab the bull by the horns, Couchsurf and hang out with a local in their home.
Not only is Couchsurfing good for finding accommodation, it also has Internet forums for each country, city and district where anyone can post. For example, Lisbon’s forum is extremely active – here you can discover regular events covering everything from yoga to techno raves. In each city there’s usually a weekly meetup where you can meet locals and other travellers.
It might sound very hippy and bohemian, but it’s the truth – smile and people will want to communicate with you. On the other hand if you’re sullen and have a negative attitude, people will subconsciously avoid talking to you. As the saying goes: “Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.”
Photo credit: nomadicsamuel.com
It’s always good to have local friends as they can give you firsthand recommendations and warn you about tourist traps. What’s more, if you hang around with locals you’ll get to see their traditions and customs up close. In this case modesty in not a virtue, just chat up a local!
Head to a bar alone and strike up a conversation with someone – there’s nothing weird about this. You might just find another traveller looking for some company. And if it doesn’t work out at least you tried!
If going out alone seems a bit too crazy and terrifying, join a pub crawl. Pub crawls usually have a minimum of 3–5 attendees, with a typical group size of 10–15. Group leaders are local party animals who knows the best party places and they’ll take you to 3–6 different bars/pubs/clubs. In Europe, the standard price for pub crawls is €8–20, typically including entrance fees and some drinks. If you have trouble finding a pub crawl to join, simply Google “pub crawl” and the name of the city where you are staying!
Many cities offer free tours. While no payment is required for these tours, tips are encouraged if you enjoy the experience. Join a free tour or any tour for that matter – it’s guaranteed that you’ll meet people as you’ll be spending time with stranger for hours. It’s highly likely that you’ll find someone to have a lunch or dinner with later.
Photo credit: Tallinn Traveller Tours
Besides dorms and private rooms, many hostels have big hang-out areas and bars. Sometimes access is restricted to guests only, however this isn’t a steadfast rule. For example in Tallinn the Red Emperor Bar & Hostel has an awesome backpacker bar where anyone is welcome.
You probably have at least 300 friends (surely even more) and each of these friends has their share of at least 300 friends – this makes 90,000 people. At least one of these connections must live at your destination and be willing to spend some time with you!
If you’re a chef find out if there’s a local chef club. If you like dancing Google local dance schools. This is a useful tip especially if you’re staying more than 2–3 days at your destination.
If you’re visiting a bigger city, check out the Meetup website. You might find a cool event nearby where you can meet like-minded people.
Here’s another recommendation for travellers who intend on staying somewhere for a longer period of time. Take a class or course on anything from Tibetan massage to cooking. You’ll definitely meet new people and maybe even make good friends.
It’s quite similar to the previous recommendation, although while classes cost money, this option is typically free. Definitely try volunteering if you have the chance – you’ll feel great and it’s likely you’ll also meet great people.
If you still consider travelling alone to be a nightmare then you should find a travel mate. If you say you’ve tried but haven’t found one, then obviously you haven’t tried hard enough. The easiest way is to start with your Facebook friends – just write to them all and if they’re not interested they might know someone who is. Otherwise head to a travel forum.
Opening photo credit: seikle.me