Here you go. You did it. You brought up the courage to leave friends, family and everything else behind to go traveling the world all by yourself. Bravo for that! Now all you have to do is meet new people and have a good time, right?

The people you meet while traveling have a huge impact on your trip. Hang with the right crowd and you will have the time of your life. Hang with the wrong crowd (or no one at all) and you will long for the day a plane takes you back home.

For those among you who are not social butterflys and can meet people with the blink of an eye, I’ve assembled a few places and situations that provide for ideal opportunities to meet people.

Buses, trains, boats

When backpacking, you will often hop from one destination to the next. What better occasion to make a new friend than during the changeover? During my last trip to Thailand I met a great girl on the bus from the airport to the hotel in Bangkok. She was also traveling alone so we had an instant subject to talk about. A few days later I made another lovely friend on the ferry from the Thai Mainland to Ko Tao. It’s more fun to discover a new location when you already know who you’ll be meeting for dinner and drinks later in the day.

Day trips and tours

There is virtually no place you can travel to that does not have some sort of tour operator offering day trips, adventures or projects. These tours can last 2 hours or 5 days but you are likely to make friends here. The stronger the experience, the better the chances of bonding with the people in your group. Hiking up a mountain, fishing piranhas, bathing in a volcano are all things that will give you and your fellow group members plenty of stuff to talk about.

Courses

If you’re like us, you probably like courses. Cooking class, Yoga class, massage class, dance class, language class – the list is endless. Classes are, again, a perfect place to meet fellow backpackers, who have at least one thing in common with you – an interest in whatever class it is you are taking.

Your hotel’s restaurant

Don’t like eating alone? Neither do I. So whenever I decide to have dinner at my hotel’s restaurant I often ask someone else who is sitting alone if they cared for some company. Nobody likes to eat alone, so most people are happy to have someone to chat to. This option might not be ideal in cities like New York or London, but if you’re at a place that is home to a lot of backpackers, then go for it.

Hostels

Depending on where you are traveling, you will often be able to chose between hotels and hostels. While it’s nice to have a room to yourself, the hostel option is far better for meeting people. I’d say that about 80% of people staying at hostels are traveling alone, just like you, and are eager to meet people. I have had some great nights out with groups of people that had found each other at hostels. If you are worried about safety at hostels, particularly in third world countries, I can say that in my experience hostels only accept foreign passport holders which helps keeping crime to a minimum.

I hope these tips come in handy for all those among you who are still hesitant about traveling alone. I would encourage anyone to try it at least once in their life, as it really is a completely different experience to traveling with a friend.

Please share how you met people while traveling alone, I’m sure many readers are interested.

Happy traveling,

Katja

233587873_64429bc1de_o
photo: Katie Louise Harker