Jul 192013
 

travelling aloneMeeting people has never been a problem for me when I travel alone, so when one of my readers asked for tips, I jumped at the chance to write this article!

I enjoy travelling with friends and family, but there’s something about travelling alone that perks me up in a special sorta way. I love the freedom of being able to wander where I want when I want, and to stay in whatever dingy little hostel attracts my attention. I don’t mind eating alone at restaurants, and feel at home in strange new cities.

Not everyone likes to travel alone, though. Just the other day, I was hiking with Sarah. She loves to explore the trails and mountains of North Vancouver, BC alone…but she doesn’t like being in cities like Montreal or New York by herself. I’m the opposite: I’d rather be alone in a city than on a mountain in the Rockies! To each her own, right?

If you’re travelling alone, you might want to tune into your comfort level. If you’re extremely uncomfortable with solo travel, then take these tips with you! And read 8 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness for Women Traveling Alone.

How to Meet People When Travelling Alone

When I was 18, I hitchhiked through Europe by myself. It was my first time travelling alone and I was nervous; what got me through was a digital voice recorder. I talked to my sister on it throughout the whole trip, and I felt like she was right there beside me! It was awesome. We listened to the tapes when I got back home, and it was a great way to re-live my European vacation.

But I also met lots of people on that vacation. Here’s how…

Stay in youth hostels – and talk to the people around you

Bruce and I stay in youth hostels as a couple, and we meet many more people than when we stay in hotels. I’d much prefer a hostel, because the people are so full of adventure and stories and life! Hotel guests seem mellow and touristy in comparison.

The best way to meet people when you’re travelling alone is to speak up and talk to them. It can be difficult when you’re in a hotel lobby, which is why I encourage you to stay in a youth hostel. Hostels by their very nature are designed to bring travellers together for community and adventures.

Learn how to strike up a conversation

Making small talk is an art, and can be difficult for shy, quiet people (or introverts!). Why? Because striking up a conversation leaves you vulnerable to rejection. We all hate to be rejected, and it’s much easier and safer to close ourselves off rather than set ourselves up. The best way to meet people when you’re travelling alone is to be the first person to reach out and say something. Anything! Talk about how uncomfortable you feel to be travelling alone. Be honest; people will like you for being real.

If you’re nervous about meeting people, read How to Make Conversation for Introverts. It’ll give you some tips on what to say to strangers.

Remember that people like you!

One of my favourite tips from Martha Beck in a recent Oprah magazine was to pretend that everyone in the room loves you. Walk into the room, believing that everyone knows all of your absolute best traits and thinks extremely highly of you.

How would you interact with people if you believed that everyone likes, admires, and respects you? You’d be happy, relaxed, friendly, and authentic. You’d reach out in love, because you wouldn’t be afraid of rejection or negative responses.

Here’s how Maya Angelou says it: “I’m young as morning and fresh as dew. Everybody loves me and so do you.”

That may be my best tip for meeting people when you’re travelling solo: act as if your fellow travellers and the locals want the best for you, love you, and want to be friends with you. You will radiate peace and joy, and people will want to connect with you.

What do you think? Comments welcome below!

If you’re a woman travelling alone, read 55 Travel Tips for Women – From Packing to Sightseeing.

“I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: Turn back.” – Erica Jong.

  8 Responses to “How to Meet People When Travelling Alone”

  1. Great tips! I’m an introvert so making small talk has always been a challenge

  2. Alright this is something in ones perspective indeed when traveling alone. I’ve traveled thru 130 countries a great majority of the places I’ve visited had someone whom spoke English just pop up . Usually in hotels hostels younger people speak English whereas the elders didn’t. There is the “Ugly Tourist” whom demand, expect everyone to speak English , look down on people that were impovished. A friend of mine whom has traveled the world that I met in Greenland of all places…thats right Greenland the huge island thats in the North Atlantic which consists of 85 % solid ice pack. He once quoted “even when you’re with a group of people on a tour you’re still traveling alone when you arrived by yourself at the destination” Alot of people are put off by the language barrier try to learn common phrases people appreciate your efforts to try to ingretiate.Just remember you probably know more of their language then they know of yours so don’t be bashful. Yes youth hostels are a great place I found to meet younger crowd I’m in my 40′s yet still like talking trying to relate to younger crowd as my friends are elderly. Most people mean well in this world that will try to do something to help. Talk about where you’ve been or going to or ask about a restaurant or sites in town or the upcoming destinations or tell where you’ve been heck I could yap someones ear off the best part is it’ll be true what I’m telling them. Whether they relate or not well…….do your best thats what matters most. I do miss my two pomeranians when traveling were all so excited when their daddy comes home..

  3. Here are three tips I found from an old article I wrote about women travelling alone:

    First, try “baby steps” such as eating out, going to movies, or taking a road trip alone. Women traveling alone enjoy being alone at home, too. Traveling solo starts small.

    Second, talk to other solo travelers – you’ll gain confidence and wisdom from their experiences. Traveling solo involves others (ironically). Women traveling alone need to learn how to quickly get comfortable with new people.

    Third, know that other travelers will be quick to welcome you on their adventures, especially when they know you’re traveling solo. Women traveling alone are usually welcomed by other tourists.

  4. Hi Judith, welcome and thank you for your comments! I hadn’t thought about starting a romance when travelling alone – but it’s a definitely possibility :-)

    Your book sounds really interesting; I look forward to visiting your blog.

    Stay true to you,
    Laurie

  5. Hi Laurie, Met you, so to speak, on the suite101 blog and clicked through to your great article. I’ve written freelance travel for years and was forced into traveling alone. Now it’s my preferred way. Met some interesting people and heard stories (trivia facts, too) I’d never learn about without being solo. And if you’ll allow me a plug, I wrote a novel about a middle-age woman flying to Spain who meets her seatmate. They become lovers when they land. “A Collector of Affections: Tales from a Woman’s Heart” is one result of traveling alone…and not a bad one at that.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Holly! I’m excited to explore your photography blog – that’s a great way to celebrate vacations and adventures :-)

  7. Great tips for traveling alone or for even having to go to a strange place/conference by yourself–having self-confidence and initiating the conversation/being friendly!

  8. It does take some guts to go out there and do it alone, but there is a lot to say for being able to go and do when you want. I notice through my travels that not every location is friendly to a solo traveler, I think it just depends on the local culture. I live in a really friendly community, so it’s always an adjustment going to new locations that are not as welcoming.

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