12 December 2019

How to make friends while traveling solo

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Even in the best cases, traveling alone can get lonely. Here’s how to connect safely with the people you meet along the way. reports citing the New York Times.

Experiencing another culture on your own terms, at your own pace, with a budget of your own choosing can be an incredibly rewarding and insightful adventure. But while some may find such a journey liberating, others might worry about safety or a period of solitude in a strange, unfamiliar place. Humans, after all, are social animals.

Prospective solo travelers should know that, despite its label, solo travel does not have to mean you’re alone all the time. There are local communities to safely interact with as well as fellow globe-trotters in a similar position.

With solo traveling growing in popularity, it’s clear there are options to socialize with other travelers — it’s just a matter of putting yourself in the right position to do so. Here are some tactics you can use to meet and befriend people abroad, from tried-and-true methods to innovative new apps and technology.

Go on ‘free’ walking tours

The word free is in quotations because, assuming your tour guide is at least half-decent, you should tip them at the end (many earn the majority of their income on commission). But these walking tours can be worth every penny. Not only will the guide give you an informed and hopefully entertaining view of the locale, but you’ll have a chance to interact with other tourists and possibly come away with a new friend.

The leisurely pace in between stops gives you the opportunity to chat with fellow tour-goers, who you may discover are also traveling alone or as part of a small group they’re willing to let you join. Prominent cities often have multiple specialized tours — street art or local cuisine, for example — which provide additional chances to meet people and further learn about the place hosting you.

If you’re staying in a hostel, the staff often has relationships with tour companies in the city. A hotel receptionist or concierge would also have recommendations.

Use Airbnb to go on unique experiences hosted by locals

Airbnb may be known more for its lodging arrangements, but it also wants to give you something to do at your destination. Airbnb Experiences connects travelers with local guides who lead guests on paid activities ranging from city tours to bar crawls and hobby and skill classes. Launched in late 2016, Experiences quickly became a popular feature.

So what’s the appeal? Similar to walking tours, Airbnb Experiences can be a fun way to mingle with fellow sightseers while gaining firsthand knowledge from experienced locals. And while you do have to pay upfront, costs usually cover expenses like transportation, food, drinks or equipment. Each booking page includes information from the host on what items they’ll provide, as well as what items you should bring, like activity-specific clothing or extra cash (for souvenirs, for example).

Connect with like-minded explorers on social travel apps

Prefer to cut out the middleman and connect directly with other travelers? Try your hand at the crop of social networking apps specifically designed for travel. Travello, free on iOS and Android, allows you to discover other travelers nearby, match itineraries for planned trips and join groups based on similar interests. You can also create a feed by posting photos and updates.

Tourlina, also free on iOS and Android, is exclusively for women and operates a lot like a dating app by swiping on potential travel companions with similar itineraries and timing. Women can also use the dating app Bumble’s BFF feature to meet platonic companions in the area. Other social media apps are 0ol options, with region-specific Facebook groups and subreddits to engage with travelers, expats, and locals in your destination of choice.

Stay in hostels

In a world of hospitable hotels and authentic Airbnbs, why do travelers elect to stay in hostels? Two reasons, really: Hostels are cheap and sociable. You’ll find college-esque dormitories with common lounge rooms and kitchens, and sometimes a bar or cafe.

It’s an ideal environment to meet other travelers, and hostel staffs are well aware of this — some will lead city tours or pub crawls designed to foster interaction between hostel mates. Others might host game nights in the common room or arrange family dinners.

2019.06.04 / 11:38
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