3 Ways to Meet People While Traveling Solo
For a long time, I thought that traveling solo meant staying alone for the whole duration of the stay. While this may be true, I discovered that it didn’t make much sense. My best travel memories are the shared ones. Even though I fully appreciate my moments of solitude, it often turns into a series of walks and visits that do not create meaningful memories.
So far, I have traveled alone to three different places. In Hong Kong, my best memory is the barbecue evening I spent on a rooftop with friends of a French acquaintance. In Berlin, it was the two evenings with Steffie, a woman I met in a club. In Lisbon, it was the dinner at the guide’s place I met during the food tour she organizes.
What do all these memories have in common? They happened with people I met there. And I first had to dare to get out of my comfort zone, to put myself out there, to make them happen. Which is not always easy for an introvert.
I don’t have much experience as a solo traveler yet. But I still found three fairly easy and quick ways to meet new people during your stay. This can be useful during a short trip, but also if you travel regularly, as a digital nomad for example. Here they are.
#1: Book ‘Airbnb experiences’
Airbnb is best known for renting accommodation for short or long term stays. But if you pay attention to the website, you’ll see that it offers another service. It’s called “experiences”.
Airbnb experiences are moments organized by locals, offered for booking on Airbnb. They can be a surf lesson, a city tour, a cooking lesson or, for example, a 17-tasting tour of Lisbon like the one I booked last week. There are many different offers, for each different passion or curiosity. As it’s often organized by locals, it’s an excellent way to discover a new place and a new culture while genuinely connecting with people.
So how I met the best guide I have ever met. During the visit, we talked a lot, not only with her but also with the three Canadian tourists who had booked the experience too. I felt like I was spending an evening with a group of friends. The guide and I kept in touch, and we met for dinner at a restaurant with some of her friends, and more recently, last night, she invited me to dinner at her and her friend’s house. It was one of the best moments of my entire stay. I deeply appreciated this evening.
So my advice is this: try to find an experience that you like, and maybe you’ll meet someone great like I was lucky enough to, and build a real connection, whether with the organizer or the people who booked the experience as well. And if not, at least you’ll have done something a little different during your stay that you’ll remember.
#2: Join Facebook groups
I haven’t met anyone from Facebook groups yet, but some of my friends did. The reason is that I don’t really like Facebook, so I’m not active in the groups where I’ve been accepted. Shame on me. I should give it a try.
There are a lot of groups on Facebook. Expats. Digital nomads. People who spend a few days in a city and are looking for contacts. There is a group for literally everyone, and some are even specific, like for LGBTQI+ persons.
Just browse through them, and send requests to get into some of them. You can either introduce yourself and say you are looking for contacts, or reply to other people’s messages. Then send a direct message and meet the people you seem to have an affinity with!
It’s on dating apps that I met most of my new friends. I think they’re all pretty effective, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve downloaded Her and Bumble. Her is a dating application for lesbians, so it may not meet your needs. But Tinder might also be very good. I’ve seen many people say in their bios that they came from such and such a country and that they were looking to meet people while they were there. Bumble is the same thing, except that you can choose to look only for friendships. But few people are registered there at the moment.
Both seem to work all over the world. The only problem is that it feels like you’re picking people out of a catalog. It’s purely physical at first, since you swipe according to the photos, so it forcibly excludes some deep links that might have been created. But that’s the way it is.
Send a message when you match — I’ve never understood why people don’t do anything when they match with someone, what’s the point? — and meet the people with whom the vibe is flowing.
Warning: I decline any responsibility in case of an encounter that would go wrong. Be aware that not everyone on the Internet has good intentions. Bad things rarely happen, but always make sure that someone knows where you are and with whom you are. Always prefer to meet in public places, and be careful. Trust your intuition.
In the end, it’s all about daring to put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone. Open yourself to new connections. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Sometimes the connection happens. Other times it doesn’t. Your ego won’t die.
It’s okay if you feel stressed. I often do when I’m about to meet new people. Sometimes you’ll even want to cancel last minute. But what would be the point of destroying all the work you’ve put in to make this moment happen? They will probably become your best memories. So put your fear aside and come out of your bubble.
Connect. Be your best and kindest self. Take a real interest in others.
And accept that these connections may be temporary. You won’t be able to keep in touch with everyone you meet. Some of them will be beautiful, unique moments that you will remember for a long time, but that will never happen again. It takes time to learn to accept the idea that relationships are often temporary.
But sometimes you will create deep connections and see some of these people again. And that’s one of the best things in the world. Who knows, you might even meet your soul mate?