LAST YEAR, TRAVEL BLOGGER IAN THORNLEY TOOK ON SOLO TRAVEL. TAKE HIS TIPS ON MAKING FRIENDS ON THE ROAD…
The older we get, the busier we are, and the number of friends we have that want to/can afford to/are free to go on holiday with us gets smaller and smaller! If you find yourself in this situation you have two options 1. Never go on holiday again or 2. Travel Alone.
Option 2 can seem very scary to a lot of people and often the biggest fear is ‘What if I don’t meet anybody?!’.. I promise you, you will. To help, here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way..
1 STAY IN A SHARED DORM IN A HOSTEL
Taking in an FC Barcelona match with one of my roommates from the St Christopher’s Inn Barcelona Hostel
Trust me when you’re living in a room with 6+ people no matter how shy or introverted you might be you just can’t help but get talking! More often than not it results in exploring, drinking and/or travelling together. Hostels are full of solo travellers in the same position as you too, it’s the norm. My first experience of travelling solo and staying in a shared dorm room was at the Hostel, I actually got chatting to a few of my room mates on my first day and spent the next 2 days exploring the city with them.
2 GRAB A DRINK IN A HOSTEL BAR
Belushi's bar in Paris. This is the awesome bar below the hostel I stayed in
If staying in a hostel dorm room isn’t for you, then the next best thing is to go to the hostel bar for a drink, I guarantee you will meet people. When visiting Paris I stayed at the hostel but I booked a private room for extra comfort, so I knew I needed to meet people at some point. I headed to the hostel bar ‘Belushi’s’, what a place that is by the way, check it out! Anyway I digress.. I went down to watch the Anthony Joshua v Klitschko fight, and honestly, whilst ordering my first drink 3 lads next to me at the bar recognised my northern accent and after that invited me to have a few with them, naturally a few turned into a lot and I booked late check out on my way back to the room.. Lifesaver!!
3 BOOK YOURSELF ONTO ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS
At the summit of Mount Batur Bali, I climbed this with people I met on the excursion
What’s the must do thing in the place that you’re visiting? I guarantee there is a group tour for it. Book yourself on and get talking to some people. You might see a theme emerging here.. a top tip is to book on to the trips through a hostel reception, this increases your chances of being on the trip with other solo travellers looking to meet people!
4 USE SOCIAL MEDIA & TRAVEL APPS
Exploring San Francisco with friends that I connected with through Instagram
The power of social media now means that you can meet people even before you’ve packed your suitcase! Solo city break in the next few days? Punch it into Instagram to see who’s around and what they’re doing, if something looks interesting then drop that person a message to ask about it? There are also lots of dedicated websites and apps available nowadays to help you meet people if you prefer to have concrete plans before you head out.
For example, The St Christopher’s App allows you to connect with backpackers on the go so you can see who will be staying at the hostel, a great way to meet other travellers through a real-time chat service.
5 BOOK AN ORGANISED TRIP
Cologne FC Game in Germany
The fail safe way to meet people while travelling is to do an organised trip through specialised travel companies. This takes away all of the stress, as the majority of people on these trips are travelling alone and also want to meet you! The trips are set up in such a way for you to get to know each other.
6 AND FINALLY… SAY HELLO TO PEOPLE..!
I met Chow on a wine tour of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, then after it finished we decided to climb table Mountain together!
Now this is the most important but simplest thing of all – you can use all of the apps, stay in hostels and book as many trips as you want but if you don’t make the effort to say hello to people then ultimately chances are you won’t meet many people. It might seem scary and sometimes may even feel uncomfortable for you, but you’ll always look back and remember the good times that followed!