Travelling solo can already be a little nerve-racking, especially when doing it the first time, but it can be even more scary when you are an introvert. While you are excited to see a new place and have these new experiences, it can also be pretty nerve-racking and makes you second guess yourself. Once you arrive to your new destination you feel much better about your decision, but then you come to a new realization – I want to do these things but I feel unsure because I don’t have anyone to go with, now what do I do?
While you may see plenty of people travelling with their friends, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people travelling alone and also looking to meet other people. Most of the time, your best memories may be with someone you met on your travels. Now how to meet and make friends with a random traveler is the important part, and is outlined below.
6 Ways to Make Friends as an Introverted Solo Traveler:
1. Stay in a hostel: by staying at a hostel you will meet other likeminded people who are open to travel and adventures, whether that’s going to museums or hiking on a trail. Most hostels have activities during the week where you can meet other hostel goers and make friends! It can feel scary and nerve racking at first, but usually a friendly extrovert will come up to you and chat. Or if you see someone look nervous too then feel free to go up to them and start some small talk. You never know who you’ll meet on your travels if you don’t try to make yourself get out of your comfort zone.
2. Go on a free walking tour: This is probably one of the best ways to meet new people! Many solo travelers go on walking tours to get the feel of a new place and experience the culture. What is nice about the tours is that you can meet others who are from a bunch of different hostels that you otherwise may not have met. Once I went on a tour in Dublin when I was solo traveling, and I saw another girl sitting very isolated from the group and I debated for 10 minutes on whether to go up to her or not. Eventually I did introduce myself to her and we started chatting and exchanged numbers so we could hang out during our stay in the city. I’m so glad that I did end up going up and talking to her because I think that otherwise both of our trips may not have been as fun, and it eased both of us to meet another introverted person.
3. Sit in the communal area in your hostel: Several times I sat in the communal area in my hostel and met several people who I needed up having a blast with. My typical move is to sit and read a book at a table, and usually someone might come up to me and chat about the book or I might overhear some one speaking English and I would interject asking where they were from. Usually this has ended up with me grabbing a drink or two with some of my new friends at a local pub, and generally having a good time!
4. Join a Facebook travel group: Since I moved abroad, I found it a little difficult to make friends outside of my school program, especially since I can be very introverted and shy. One of my friends who also moved abroad (to Madrid, as mentioned in my previous post here) told me about Girl Gone International, which is primarily for women who are expats but have been used by women who enjoy travelling and travel a lot. The group also has “sub-groups” based in different major cities, like the Berlin GGI group. If that doesn’t interest you, then there are other groups from “Travel Bucket List” (both genders welcome), “Girls Who Travel”, and “Travel Meet Ups” (sub group of The Solo Female Traveler Network). These can be great resources to meet others (as an introvert or not!), or even to ask your main questions with some primary sources!
5. Go on a bus tour: Now I don’t mean going on those city bus tours that just drive you around a major city. I mean a tour that takes you out to another part of the country and exploring a different side of the country. On a bus tour from Dublin, I sat next to a girl from Quebec and we chatted a bit. I never would have thought to talk to my seat neighbor until she started the conversation with me and we casually talked for a bit. I discovered that she was traveling with a friend, but they decided that this day each of them would do their own thing as the friend had already visited the Cliffs of Moher before and didn’t want to see it again. Our conversations never lasted long as I believe that both of us were introverts and it was pretty early in the morning and both of us were pretty tired all day. While we didn’t exchange numbers or anything, it was nice to talk to someone for a bit so it didn’t feel so lonely.
6. Go on a bar/pub crawl: This may seem counter-intuitive as going to a bar alone is more or less a society faux pas, but if you can muster the courage to go to the bar crawl that your hostel is hosting or a part of, then you can meet so many people that are in the same situation as you! When I went to a pub crawl in Dublin when I traveled solo, I was really nervous that I wouldn’t meet anyone that I connected with or even find people who were there for the pub crawl. It was so nerve-racking showing up alone, not knowing anyone and not knowing who was part of the tour. It wasn’t until I started walking towards the bar when a group of friends went up to me and said “Wow going to a pub crawl alone, very ballsy!”. While this may not have been a big deal for an extrovert, it felt like this was the right move for me after hearing that. I am a bold, independent introvert, and just because I can be shy due to being introverted, does not mean that I can’t take risks and be strong.
These are just a few recommendations, and everyone is different so feel free to try one or two of these to see how comfortable you are. The main point is to try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and possibly make a few new friends, whether you’re an introvert or not. You may meet someone similar to you that you wouldn’t have gotten to know until you put yourself out there!