Lisa Owen

solo traveller

Your bucket list is getting longer and longer but the trouble is you’ve got no one to go with to start ticking them off? Just because you’re leaving the country solo doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone on your travels. Chances are you may find you’re barely ever alone if you follow a few of my tips for solo travellers.

I’m a solo traveller in that most of the time I’m entering and leaving a country on my own. But over the past year, I’ve couchsurfed with a friend of a friend in Honolulu, who then set me up to stay at his friend’s house on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I went on a cruise to Halong Bay in Vietnam with a Canadian girl I met in a coffee shop in Nepal. I travelled through Bali with a Dutch guy I met on a volcano sunrise tour on neighbouring Java island. I travelled to Jordan with an American girl I met in Peru. I travelled for six weeks through America and Asia with an Australian guy I met while on a tour in Honduras. Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely if you’re open to meeting new people.

Here are five ways to meet people when you’re a solo traveller.

travel friends

Stay in a hostel

Many people in hostels will be solo travellers too. If you’re staying in a dorm, this is the perfect place to start a conversation. Be friendly when you walk in the door of your dorm and say hi to anyone who’s in there. You’ll know pretty quickly if they want to start a conversation. You might find out you have a lot in common and want to see the same things. If you got a private room, many hostels have common areas to chill out or have a beer. Start by saying hi and you might just make a new friend.

group of travellers

Afraid to just go and talk to random strangers? Many hostels offer group activities such as pub crawls or walking tours. Join in on these and it will be easy to meet people who are probably in the same boat as you. If you’re worried about staying in a hostel – don’t. These days there are a lot of great hostels out there that are clean, have great Wi-Fi, and secure dorms with lockers. Read the reviews on Booking.com or HostelWorld and make sure you choose a place based on your requirements.   

Join a tour group

If you’re worried about travelling through a country by yourself, join a tour group. You’re likely to meet a bunch of like-minded people and you may end up continuing your travels with one of them, or meeting up with them on future trips. You can also meet people easily on day trips. I’ve done a couple of organised day trips to hiking trails, or caves, and just started chatting to a few people on the tour – and then boom, new friends and travel buddies.

Couchsurf

A great way to meet locals and find out about the best spots in the country you’re visiting is to couchsurf. I’ve met some really nice people while couchsurfing – many who have driven me around their town and shown me the sights. It’s a great way to see a place and it will also save some money. You can find a couch to crash on at www.couchsurfing.org Look for people with plenty of recent reviews and it also helps if they’re verified.

new travel friends

Volunteer

One great way to meet people is to give something back. Volunteer your time to teach English, make beds in a hostel, or help out at an organic farm. It’s easy to find volunteer opportunities through websites such as HelpX or WorkAway. You’ll meet locals and also other travellers. I met a bunch of friendly fellow travellers when I volunteered to teach conversational English during a week long immersion program in Hungary. I later met up with an American couple from the program while travelling through Spain, and then again recently in the American state of Utah while on a road trip down the west coast.

travel group

Ask your friends

Reach out to your friends and see if they might be travelling to one of the places you’re going at the same time. I often organise to meet friends that happen to be in the same place at the same time. For example, I met my friend at Oktoberfest last year and we spent a few days downing beers and touring Munich before he went back to Australia and I went on to Ukraine. And of course your friends might have friends or family in the country you’re visiting and they can connect you. It’s great to tour a place with a local – and you might also score a couch to sleep on. So ask around, and see if your friends know anyone where you’re going.

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia