Q&A: Making Friends as a Solo Traveler
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
🗣PSA: SOLO TRAVELERS ARE ALONE LESS THAN YOU THINK.🗣
Did you know? It's actually easier to make friends as a solo traveler than when you're traveling in a pair or group. You're more approachable, plus you're more aware of who is around you and more open to meeting new people.
Every solo traveler has stories about friends they've made on the road. I myself have more than I can count! Not only did these friendships improve my solo experience, but I treasure them even now. I keep in touch with many of these connections I made along the way, and I've even met up with a few again in other parts of the world!
So for this week's Q&A Wednesday, I asked female solo travelers on Instagram to share a story of a time when they formed a great friendship while traveling alone.
I chose this topic because I want to show two things:
That it happens all the time—solo travelers making amazing friendships on the road (sometimes friendships for life!)
That it can be so easy to form these connections with others when you're solo.
What you'll learn on the road and from the stories below is that you don't have to be an extroverted people person to make friends as a solo traveler.
You don't have to be a conversational wizard or have some snappy opening line.
The best part about these stories is that most all of them started in the simplest way ever! Here are a few opening lines from these stories:
"The AC is up a bit high in here, huh"? "I like your tattoo." "The food is kind of expensive here, isn't it?"
Your opener can be incredibly simple! It's not a big, scary, complicated process to make friends with locals or other travelers when you're alone. It takes a little dose of bravery to say hello, or comment on the weather or your surroundings, and you're in!
Without further ado, here are ten stories from female solo travelers about friendships they made while on the road.
My new friends Frankie and Lucy
As I said, I have many great friendship stories from my solo travels, but this one stands out.
On a ferry to a Thai island, the AC was up SUPER high, and it was freezing in there. I saw the two girls sitting next to me shivering too, and I leaned over and said, “AC is a little high, huh?”
And a beautiful friendship was born! We got to talking and we ended up rooming together for our week or so on the island, and we had a great time.
That was in 2014. Then, last year, I spent the summer in London, and these girls both live in/around the area. So we were able to meet up for lunch, catch up, and reminisce about our travels. We even recreated one of the pictures we took back in 2014! One of the girls is coming to visit me here in my hometown next month, too. It's been amazing to keep the friendship alive over all these years!
Effy's new friend Anna
"I struck up an amazing friendship with a girl I met in the Philippines. We were both dining at a restaurant, looking at menus, and then I said, "Ooft, it's a bit expensive, isn't it?" And she invited me to eat with her. We went out drinking after, and I invited her to come to an island five hours away with me for the weekend!"
Jen's new friend Chandler
"On my layover in Madrid to Sevilla, I was standing in line waiting to board and this girl in front of me, Chandler, sparked up a conversation. The flight attendants were attaching tags to bags, and she was like, "What if they make us pay for carry-ons now?!" and I said "I sure hope not!" (We didn't have to haha). We just started chatting from there and found out how much we have in common: both from the US—she's from Chesapeake, Virginia and I'm from Chesapeake City, MD, similar stories with friend groups from home and reasons behind our solo traveling adventures. We just hit it off from there!
Come to find out as we boarded that she was in 16A, and by the universe I was 16B! SO funny—we just laughed the whole time and talked about life! Split up in different parts of Sevilla, but then she met me at my hostel later and from there we went to Lagos together. Then she had to go to Barcelona and then go home while I am still traveling. But we talk almost every day, and even when traveling together we talked about business plans and future adventures together, and are currently planning a trip to Morocco this winter!
The universe works in mysterious ways and I will forever be grateful that we met as we did. Just goes to show that the universe brings people into your life for a reason, no matter how long they stay for."
Lea's new friend Candice
"I met a girl on the plane from Trinidad and Tobago. We exchanged numbers and ended up going on a night out together! We had a great night!"
Michele's new friends
"I was on a boat with eight other women from Australia and the UK in the Maldives, and we're still friends!"
Rachel's new friends
"Two years ago, I took a solo trip to Zurich. I normally take city walking tours when I get to a new place, and Zurich was no different. But, during this one, a small group of us gravitated towards each other since we were all solo travelers. After the tour was over, we decided to go grab a drink together, and ended up hanging out for the rest of the weekend that I was in Switzerland!
We were all from different places (one was Canadian, one was Australian, one was German), but we've kept up with each other on social media for the past two years. I love seeing their travels continue, and would definitely meet up with them again sometime in the future!"
Ashley's new friend Kara
"Disney has given me so many magical moments that I almost tear up thinking about them all. One of the greatest moments? Meeting my best friend, Kara on my solo trip to Disney World!
We instantly clicked! We were jumping up and down like a pair of Tiggers, and our childlike personalities fit together like Mickey and Minnie. We hung out for the rest of the time at Disneyland, and then have pretty much talked every day for the past 3 years.
We've visited Disneyland together countless times since then. On one of the trips, I literally showed up at her front door as a birthday surprise and said, "LET'S GO TO DISNEY!!" I also stood up in her wedding last year, she came to my 30th birthday celebration in Savannah, and she's coming to visit me in Michigan next week!
I am so blessed that traveling across the country introduced me to my best friend! That's the beauty with travel...you never know what surprises it's going to bring you."
Lotte's new friends Nina and Michael
"During my solo travels, I've met way more people than when I used to travel with others. I might be traveling alone, but I am rarely lonely. If anything, connections tend to be more intense when you are out of your 'natural habitat.'
Like the time last year when I met an Austrian girl at a yoga retreat in Thailand. She's moved to my hometown since then. I'm still traveling myself, but I'm looking forward to reconnecting with her once I'm back!
Or the time when I met a Canadian guy during a bus ride, and we found out neither of us had ever driven a scooter before. The next day, we met up for our very first scooter trip. So much fun! And thanks to social media, it's quite easy nowadays to stay in touch with everyone. At the moment, I'm back in India for the second time to visit friends I made there last year. It's often the people that we spend time with that turn out to be more important to our experience than the actual destination itself."
Deepa's new friend Sarah
"One of the major benefits of traveling solo is meeting up with other fellow travelers and building experiences, memories and friendships! I have literally made a minimum of one good friend out of each destination I've visited in each country, so I am pretty confused of whose example I'm going to give!
One girl I feel really connected with is named Sarah. She was unpacking her bag in the dorm when I entered and we exchanged glances and greeted each other with a smile. And I noticed her tattoo of one of the Indian gods, Ganpati Bappa. And my curious mind had to talk to her about it because she is German, so how does she have an Indian god tattoo? And from there onwards we spent the most amazing evening on the Pantai Chenag beach watching the sunset and eating fried ice cream. We are still in touch and I'm happy and proud, especially of her recent achievement as a title-winning boxer. She was a bold and warm person to meet!"
Lindsey's new friends
"I met a group of three in Cascais, Portugal. I said "yes" to sitting at their table, after a little resistance and some poking fun at me...but decided, "why not?" They questioned my solo-traveling ways, but were equally intrigued by the bravery and independence. I learned that saying "YES" can lead to the most incredible experiences and friendships. The restaurant was called Taberna Clandestina. We formed a fast camaraderie over broken English and amazing wine. I am still very much in touch with them and will be traveling back there in August for a visit."
Happy friend-making and happy travels,
P.S. My online course, Solo Travel 101, includes a section on tips and advice for making friends when traveling alone—plus everything else you'll need to know to confidently take your first solo trip! Learn more, here.