A friend once told me that once you start traveling alone, it’s hard to stop.
I know what he means. It’s easy for a traveller to become enamored of roaming alone. There you are in a new city, freshly arrived and mildly delirious from jet lag. You’re appreciating different cultures, and gaining new perspectives. Real or imagined, the sense of endless possibilities can be intoxicating.
It can be a comfort to know that there is world that is completely your own, as Graham Greene once wrote, but eventually even the most independent and introspective amongst us will want to connect with people on our solo journeys.
And unless your dedication to self-discovery reaches Cheryl-Strayed-on-the-Pacific-Crest-Trail peak levels, at various points of your trip you will be very glad to share a moment with others. Like when you’re climbing to the top of that waterfall, dancing without your shoes on at 3:00 AM (and gorging on breakfast pizza a few hours later), or watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
While the typical ways of making friends on trips, such as staying at a hostel or couch-surfing work well, here are some tips to meet like-minded people while traveling solo.
Traveling alone? Find your community
Try joining a meetup group, or even volunteering at an event in your chosen city. This works particularly well if you have a bit of time to plan your trip in advance, and if you’re staying for at least a few days.
You can join a meetup group for a day or a week. Meetups are ideal events to meet people with common interests, with the added bonus of meeting locals who could show you all the lesser-known hangout gems that most travel guides don't cover.
In the spirit of trying new experiences, taking up a drop-in class while traveling is a handy way of both practicing a useful skill and bonding with people while you’re at it. There is a huge variety of classes for women traveling alone. From guitar lessons, soccer games, yoga, woodworking, cooking, or language clubs, many of the options provide you with a break from hiking, partying, or museum scouring.
Look for free walking tours. Free walking tours are great for men or women traveling alone. You get to take in a new place and learn about it from a local expert, all while being surrounded by other travellers. You get to hear about popular spots to hang out – pubs, cafes, clubs and music venues – that you and other travellers can all check out after the tour.
Another tip? Some touring companies host their own pub-crawls for free or for a minimal fee. Enjoy a gorgeous cityscape view and then head over to the pub after to celebrate the day.
Online communities for women traveling alone
Living in our globalized, hyper-connected world has some advantages – like meeting people across the country or across the world before you even land in your destination. Try looking for online communities for travellers, or online spaces focused on your interests or profession: blogs, forums, even Twitter accounts can offer you an easy way of connecting with other people who are traveling alone in a curated online space.
While you’re in a networking mood, you may have a friend, family member or a colleague that can introduce you to someone that they know in your getaway destination.
Networking with someone in your field who lives in a different city, country or continent can turn out to be an invaluable experience, and a great collaboration opportunity.
Travel by train
And finally, to fully embrace the cinematic potential of traveling, try alternating your transit options so that you’re taking a train somewhere. There’s something special, even nostalgic, about trains. There’s an organic sense of camaraderie amongst passengers: it could be the seating arrangement that lends itself more to socializing than other forms of transportation, or perhaps all of that window gazing serving as a catalyst for creative thinking. Regardless, taking a train between cities is a great way to both see the countryside and enjoy chance encounters with interesting people.
Traveling of any kind is a privilege. There’s a lot to be thankful for, but traveling alone in particular gives you a unique opportunity to take care of yourself and to learn about what makes you happy.
Your solo adventure awaits.