The best types of vacations are those where you come home with some great new friends. There’s nothing like bonding over shared experiences to create an instant friendship with someone and vacations are usually rife with such moments. But, let’s be honest. It’s difficult to strike up a conversation (let alone a friendship) with a perfect stranger in this day and age of technology-driven obliviousness and guarded attitudes. Solo travelers are at even more of a disadvantage since approaching new people without support can be daunting. And even though single travelers tend to like the peace and quiet they get from traveling by themselves, loneliness can still set in and it’s nice to be able to connect with someone else on your terms. Luckily, there are a number of resources to help you navigate these tricky friendship-making waters with ease.
1. Join organized meetings
The first thing to remember is that you’re not the only person looking to connect with other warm bodies. There are a plethora of websites and apps devoted to meeting travel friends that you can use to your advantage. Look up your destination city in meetup.com to find a wide variety of like-minded friends during your vacation. There are meet-ups to suit just about every personality from mom’s groups and knitting circles to punk-rock events and skydiving excursions. You could also peruse the local craigslist site for any classes, tours or conferences that pique your interest. Local Facebook groups can be a wealth of information as far as events and local happenings, so join as many as you can find. Foodies will love the site “EatWith” and the similar site bonappetour.com. Eatwith is a resource to find dinner parties hosted by locals so you can eat some good food while enjoying good company and BonAppetour allows visitors to enjoy local, authentic cuisine. Pub-crawls are great for socialites, so if that’s your scene check out pubcrawls.com. You can also meet like-minded philanthropists through sites like HelpX, Workaway or even volunteermatch.org if you choose to spend your vacation giving back to the local community. If you’re an athlete, there’s no better way to make new friends than playing a game with fellow sports enthusiasts. Simply search google for your sport and the city you’ll be visiting to find local games. And don’t discount good old-fashioned park games; They can be a great way to meet new, unique people.
2. Think about your Accommodations
Staying cooped up in a hotel isn’t very conducive to meeting new friends, but these housing options are perfect for budding friendships. Despite having a scary rep, Hostels are absolutely the best way for solo travelers to meet new friends. They’re free and are typically frequented by similar solo travelers looking for connections. If hostels frighten you, but you like the free aspect, try couchsurfing.com. If you haven’t heard of this site you’re not only spending too much money on your travels, but you’re also missing out on meeting some of the most laid-back, generous and downright awesome people around the world. Couchsurfing allows you to connect with people who have spare sleeping accommodations in your destination city for FREE. You can read up on the people you’ll be sharing a place with to see if you have similar interests and the rest is history. It’s one of the best gems in the travel industry! Airbnb can be a great resource, as well. Although you typically won’t be rooming with your host, they’re usually friendly and accommodating and can point you in the right direction for meeting new people in the area. For a cheaper option, check out HomeStay to rent a room in someone’s house to make some instant friends without feeling like a mooch.
3. Use social travel apps and websites
Before leaving for your trip, sign up for some of these great sites/apps to make the most of your time meeting new people. Skout is a fabulous app that lets you connect with people in other cities looking for new friends. You can text, email or call people before you even travel to form a friendship, learn a new language or just to see what’s happening there at any given time. It’s fun to use even if you’re not traveling anytime soon! Tripr is another similar app that allows you to find traveling buddies through matching itineraries and interests. Locals can even sign up to meet travelers and act as tour guides. BeWelcome is an app very similar to the couchsurfing website where locals can offer up free places to crash for wanderers. Often, the hosts will cook meals, set up events and really work hard at showing you a good time. TravBuddy is another app that connects vacationers with one another before, during and after trips as well as offering travel reviews and suggestions. And if you happen to be a working entrepreneur or business traveler, Hacker Paradise will simplify your life by organizing trips so you can spend more time earning more travel money.