One of the most challenging aspects of traveling alone is trying to make friends on the road. But, despite the conception that solo travel means you have to be alone all the time, it can actually be one of the best times to socialize and meet new people. In some ways, traveling alone is as much about finding other people to connect with as it is about finding yourself. Read on to learn our tips for making friends on your solo adventure!

Three people hiking on a Greek island
Photo by Hope Allison

Stay in hostels

If you’re worried about meeting people while traveling solo, one of the best ways to solve this problem is to stay in hostels. Their friendly and open-minded atmosphere makes it easy to strike up conversations, whether it’s in your dorm, the hostel bar, or the shared kitchen. In no time, you’ll be sharing where you’re from and swapping stories about how you got to where you are. And, as Forbes reported, 72 percent of hostel users are solo travelers, so you can rest assured that there will be others also looking to make friends on the road. No matter where you are, you’ll always have at least one thing in common with your fellow hostel-mates: a love of travel!

Two people making friends while traveling alone, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Photo by Ian Schneider

Take part in group tours and excursions

When you’re traveling alone, it’s all too easy to stick to your own routine. If you’re eager to break out of that rut, try signing up for a group tour or activity. It may seem daunting at first ― especially if you don’t know anyone ― but taking part in these outings is one of the best ways to meet people with similar interests and travel styles. Try using a service like Busabout, or Hostelworld’s Musement, where you can book tours and excursions tailored to your interests, location, and time-frame. Alternatively, book an Airbnb Experience to learn a local’s trade or taste regional wines, or join a foodie-friendly activity through Eatwith. Regardless of what you’re into, you’re sure to find like-minded travelers in any activity you dive into.

Use an app

People hugging on top of a mountain
Photo by @adamkingman

With the proliferation of technology in the travel space, solo travel is a good opportunity to use tech to your advantage. And, if you’re someone who has trouble introducing yourself to strangers in person, travel apps can be a great way to facilitate friendships on the road. With apps like Backpackr and Tourlina (a travel app for women), it’s never been easier to find and make friends with fellow travelers online. With these new ways to meet other travelers, you can update your current city or say where you’re headed, and connect with other travelers based on interests or locations. Even if you don’t meet up with people you meet online, it can also be a great resource for travel tips and local secrets. All you have to do is pack your bags and swipe right!

Find your global community

Whether you’re a photographer, blogger, art lover, or an athlete, following your passions can lead you to local communities of people with similar interests. Through family and friends-of-friends, or even Facebook groups and Instagram hashtags, you can find people that belong to a larger global community of like-minded individuals. Try searching for meet-ups or events in your destination, since these can offer great opportunities to meet people with shared interests for both locals and travelers alike. By tapping into a global community, you’ll make connections with others who have the same passions, and feel more grounded in whatever unfamiliar place you’re visiting. Win-win!

Be brave

A woman walking in turquoise water in Greece
Photo by Hope Allison

Chances are, if you’re someone who’s courageous enough to embark on a solo adventure, this is the last piece of advice you need to hear. But even the bravest among us get nervous sometimes, and even the most independent travelers want company, too. So, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone in your hostel, at bars and cafés, or even while in transit ― a 12-hour train ride is much more tolerable with good conversation. By being open-minded, pushing your own boundaries, and stepping out of comfort zone, you’ll be primed to build lasting global friendships and have the journey of a lifetime. After all, facing your fears and challenging yourself is what traveling solo is all about.

Ready to plan your next solo jaunt? Read about the 10 friendliest countries for solo travelers, and learn why traveling alone isn’t just for extroverts.

Header image by Matheus Ferrero