Greetings Internet Stranger! It can be very difficult to know How to Meet Travel Buddies when you travel alone. Solo travel is wonderful, but it can be emotionally exhausting when you’re not prepared. My first lengthy solo travel trip lasted a month. I chose to visit my mother’s homeland of Ireland and then my father’s homeland of Romania. (Yes, I’m aware that Irish-manian is a strange combination.)
The trip started very well, but after a month of not having a conversation with anyone, I became so lonely and homesick that I actually burst into tears in a restaurant in Brasov, Romania because a violinist started playing “Ashokan Farewell”, aka the Ken Burns Civil War music, and it made me miss the United States.
Fortunately I soon met a more experienced fellow solo traveler who gave me the best piece of travel advice I’ve ever had. She said to talk to people, even strangers, when you travel alone. I’m a native New Yorker, and I was always taught that if you talk to strangers, they will murder you by giving you poisoned candy and then dumping you in the back of a white van. But I have since learned that most strangers will not do that.
However, we still need to be cautious when we travel alone, especially if we are women. I know some people have had great success meeting strangers on social media when they travel alone, but I was once stalked for six months by a guy I met on social media, so I’m not going to recommend that. But here are my favorite, Paranoid New Yorker Approved tips for How to Meet Travel Buddies!
How to Meet Travel Buddies
1) join a group trip
This is the easiest way to figure out How to Meet Travel Buddies when you travel alone. Just join up with a good travel company and you’ll spend the entire trip with about 12 other travelers. The two most famous companies are probably G Adventures and Intrepid. I’ve traveled with both, G Adventures in Morocco and Intrepid in New Zealand, India, and Eastern Europe, and I had a great experience with both companies.
The benefits of traveling with a group are that you have ready-made companions. It’s even better if the people in your group aren’t the sort of people that you’d hang out with back home. Travel is supposed to expand your horizons, and what expands your horizons more than making a surprising new friend. In countries like Morocco and India, where it’s not always culturally expected for a woman to go out alone at night, I was able to dine out as much as I wanted.
The downside is that you can be stuck with someone you really dislike. This is usually only a problem if this person is your roommate. I avoid this issue by always choosing the Single Supplement so I get my own room. It’s a little more money, but worth it for my peace of mind. You’re also usually stuck dining at restaurants that can accommodate groups of more than ten people, which wouldn’t always be my choice.
I strongly recommend traveling with a group if you’re going to travel alone over a holiday. Solo travel at Christmas-time is not for the faint of heart. Much better to celebrate Christmas in India with a group of 11 strangers and ridiculous fake Santa hats. (Yes, this actually happened to me.)
2) day tours
If a group tour doesn’t offer enough time alone, you can try a day tour. Day tours are a great way for a non-driver, like me, to see more remote destinations in the countryside. I went on a day trip in Iceland to see the geysers and waterfalls, and I went on another day trip in Ireland to see the Cliffs of Insanity! (Ahem, I mean the Cliffs of Moher.) But you can find day trips that leave out of most major cities around the world.
Day tours offer the companionship of a group tour without the commitment. If you’re seated next to a crazy person, you never have to see that person again. Best case scenario, your seatmate will become a new friend. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. I’ve met so many fun, independent single female travelers on bus trips. (Creepy men of the world, please don’t take this as an invitation to go on day tours to try to meet fun, single women. I am begging you.)
3) part of the day tours
Part of the day tours can generally last from 90 minutes to 5 hours. You know it’s a part of the day tour and not a full day tour when you still have time to do other tourist activities during the day. I am a huge fan of part of the day tours. There are so many kinds to choose from: food tours, history tours, street art tours, shopping tours, ghost tours, film tours…no matter what your jam is, there’s a short tour for you.
My favorite part of the day tour companies are Urban Adventures and Secret Food Tours, both of which operate in many cities around the world. But there are other smaller companies that I like, such as Eating Europe and Museum Hack. And then of course there are truly small tour companies that operate only in one city.
But what every part of the day tour should promise is a small group. That way you’ll really get the chance to find out How to Meet Travel Buddies when you travel alone. On small group tours, I’ve met the wide spectrum of humanity from a 12 year old girl who asked me to adopt her to a gaggle of creepy, racist oldsters, and that was on the same tour. If you get lonely when you travel alone, part of the day tours are the single best solution.
The next organization is so unusual that I shall give them their own category. EatWith offers you the chance to buy a seat at a dinner party. The host will be a local, but the other guests will be fellow travelers. It’s a fun way to meet people over dinner. This is one of the best tips for How to Meet Travel Buddies. You’ll feel like a glamorous and sophisticated world traveler hobnobbing with other glamorous and sophisticated world travelers. Plus it costs less money than an equivalent restaurant meal would. So it’s really budget sophistication.
I’ve done EatWith twice: in Paris and Barcelona, which are two of the most popular EatWith cities. In Barcelona I had paella in an apartment with views of La Sagrada Familia, which is one of my all time top travel experiences. In Paris, I met four of the coolest jazz-playing, TV-show-starring, three-language-speaking Americans I’ve ever known while we feasted on a three course French meal, including decadent chocolate cake. I’m sure your experience with EatWith will be even more fab!
I’m not talking about singles cruises here. (No judgment, I’ve just never been on one.) But I’ve taken several Royal Caribbean cruises solo, and I’ve met lots of people on them. Because you’re placed at a dining table with a group of strangers, you’re bound to make friends. On my most recent cruise I was “adopted” by a family of Cuban-Americans from Miami. They helped me find the best meat sandwiches in every port!
When you travel alone on a cruise line like Royal Caribbean, which isn’t known as a singles cruise line, you’ll also make friends easily on Shore Excursions. Everyone will be curious about why you travel alone. One time when I was on a Shore Excursion in Montenegro, our bus got stuck on a road where we had to make over 20 hairpin turns. (Not exaggerating!)
So I made fast friends with a honeymooning couple next to me, as we cracked jokes the entire time to avoid thinking about our eminent demise. Having a near-death experience with someone is truly the fastest way to make friends with them, unless it’s a person who is trying to murder you. That’s the oddest one of my tips for How to Meet Travel Buddies.
Of course many budget travelers like to stay at hostels when they travel alone. It’s very easy to make friends with people when you are rooming with them. I will never forget my stay in Zurich, when I was accidentally forced to room with three teenage boys from the UK. Ah, the nights we spent, me helping them cook instant rice, them forcing me to listen to their porn. Friendship truly is magic.
Nowadays I’m too old and cranky to stay in hostels. But when I want to meet people when I travel alone, I opt for a bed and breakfast. If the breakfast is served at a communal table, like at the Justine Inn in Savannah, you’ll get to know all your fellow travelers.
Many bed and breakfasts also offer a wine and cheese event, which can also be social. In Savannah, a wine and cheese hour is a perfect time for guests to compare notes on all the ghost tours and murder houses in the city. And anyone who likes ghost tours and murder houses is a potential friend of yours truly!
That’s How to Meet Travel Buddies!
What are your tips on How to Meet Travel Buddies? Who is the creepiest person you’ve ever been forced to room with? And if we met over wine and cheese in Savannah, would you come visit a murder house with me? Please leave your thoughts below!