The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Making Connections on the Road

Tips and anecdotes about how solo travelers can meet new people and form meaningful connections while traveling alone.

3 min read

group of people setting up campfire
group of people setting up campfire

Solo travel is an exhilarating adventure, offering unparalleled freedom and personal growth. However, it can also be daunting, especially when it comes to making connections on the road. Yet, with the right approach, solo travelers can forge meaningful relationships that enrich their journey. Here are practical tips and anecdotes to help solo adventurers meet new people and create lasting bonds while exploring the world alone.

Be Open to New Experiences

Embrace Spontaneity: Sometimes, the best connections come from unexpected encounters. Be open to changing your plans based on recommendations from locals or fellow travelers you meet. An impromptu decision to join a group tour or attend a local event can lead to new friendships.

Mark, a solo traveler in Vietnam, decided on a whim to join a local cooking class recommended by his hostel roommate. Not only did he learn to make pho, but he also spent the day with a group of travelers with whom he later explored more of Southeast Asia.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Leverage Social Media and Apps: Platforms like Meetup, Couchsurfing, or even travel-specific forums and Facebook groups can be invaluable for connecting with locals and other travelers. Many cities have dedicated groups for expats and travelers where members share events, meetups, and tips.

Sarah used a travel forum to find a local language exchange meetup in Madrid. She went hoping to practice her Spanish and ended up making friends with several locals who were eager to share their city with her.

Stay in Social Accommodations

Choose Hostels or Shared Lodgings: Hostels are hotspots for solo travelers looking to meet others. Opt for dormitory-style rooms or common areas where people naturally congregate. Many hostels also organize social events, tours, or communal meals.

Alex, staying in a hostel in Berlin, found that simply hanging out in the common room led to joining a group planning a graffiti tour. The shared experience was a perfect icebreaker.

Participate in Group Activities

Join Tours or Classes: Whether it’s a walking tour, a cooking class, or a diving course, group activities are great for meeting people with similar interests. These shared experiences provide a natural context for conversation and connection.

While on a hiking tour in Patagonia, Jamie met another solo traveler with a shared passion for photography. They ended up traveling together for the next two weeks, capturing stunning landscapes and forming a lasting friendship.

Be Approachable and Friendly

Body Language Matters: Simple gestures like smiling, making eye contact, and open body language can make you more approachable. Don’t underestimate the power of a friendly demeanor in inviting conversation.

On a train ride through India, Mia noticed another solo traveler looking uncertain at a station stop. She smiled and asked if he was okay, leading to a conversation. They discovered they were both headed to the same festival and decided to navigate the chaos together.

Share Your Story and Listen

Engage in Genuine Conversations: When you meet new people, share your story but also be a good listener. Genuine interest in others’ experiences and backgrounds can forge deeper connections than mere small talk.

During a solo trip to Morocco, Ethan shared a taxi with a local woman. They talked about their lives, and she invited him to her family's home for dinner. It became one of the most memorable experiences of his trip, all because they shared their stories.

Safety First

Stay Safe: While making connections is part of the adventure, always prioritize your safety. Meet new acquaintances in public places, inform someone of your plans, and trust your instincts.

Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely. With openness, curiosity, and a bit of courage, you can meet incredible people and make connections that enhance your journey and last a lifetime. Remember, every stranger is a potential friend, and every encounter is an opportunity to expand your world.