Embarking upon a solo trip can be a daunting prospect. What if you forget to pack your passport? Or your socks? Or, worst of all... your phone charger?! Luckily, these anxieties are all easily remedied by using a simple packing list. But one of the most common uncertainties that plague first-time lone travelers is less easily resolved—what if you don't meet anyone?
There's really not much need to worry about this. Travelling puts you in different places with new people all the time, and it's fairly natural to make connections as you go. On top of this, many of the people you'll meet on the road are in the same boat as you—they're on their own, which makes them especially open to meeting new people. But if you still find yourself unsure, there are many strategies you can use to ensure you'll link up with others while traveling.
Here are 10 ways to meet more people on the road:
10 Use Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is an app that connects local hosts with travelers. The hosts don't expect monetary compensation, preferring to exchange stories and share experiences with the backpackers they invite into their homes. A social networking app more than anything else, Couchsurfing is an excellent way to meet locals and learn more about the countries you're visiting, while reducing your travel costs. In terms of safety, the hosts are all reviewed, and travelers can choose who they request to stay with based on the comments of other backpackers.
But if staying with hosts isn't your thing, Couchsurfing also has a Hangouts feature, which puts nearby people in touch with one another. In most any big city, there are usually dozens of people online in Hangouts at any one time, all of whom are looking to explore and sightsee with others in the area. A lot of cities also have weekly Couchsurfing events at bars or pubs, where travelers and hosts can congregate to meet new people.
9 Go to restaurants with communal tables
Many cities have at least a few restaurants that allow customers to dine at communal tables.
People who choose to eat at such tables are often open to conversation with those around them, which makes these restaurants excellent places to meet new people. And there's the added bonus that you automatically have a shared situation to talk about as an icebreaker—your food! (Hopefully, how good it is.)
8 Stay at hostels
Staying at a hostel is a surefire way to meet other travelers. These accommodations almost always have communal areas where backpackers can gather to eat together and visit, and the managers usually host group activities at least once a week to facilitate connections between guests, from free dinners to guided walking tours.
But even if you plop your butt down in your room and never leave, you'll still meet the backpackers sharing your dormitory, and if you're staying for a while, you tend to get to know your roommates quite well (and their snoring habits—make sure you bring earplugs).
7 Join guided tours
When you join a guided tour, chances are most of the other people who sign up will be tourists, and some will likely be traveling on their own. It is notoriously easy to strike up conversations with fellow backpackers (especially solo backpackers) because we're all after the same thing—a bit of human connection! Traveling alone can be lonely (shocker!), so most solo travelers will embrace any opportunity to connect with others.
Plus, being on the same tour means you'll have lots to talk about, especially if the tour is related to a niche interest. If you're into science, take a tour of CERN or visit a telescope. If you're a foodie, sign up for a guided restaurant tour! What better way to meet like-minded people?
6 Stay at AirBnBs
Instead of opting for a hotel, try staying at an Airbnb. Although money changes hands, many hosts are inviting people into their homes because they are interested in meeting travelers, and often, they'll be receptive to sharing a meal, or at the very least, some conversation and travel tips about their hometown.
Sometimes, hosts will rent out multiple rooms within the residence (which you will be made aware of before booking), so, depending on the accommodation, you may have the opportunity to meet other travelers as well. As a bonus, AirBnBs are usually cheaper than hotels, and occasionally, there will be a dog on the premises to shower with cuddles.
5 Visit expat or hotel bars
Travelers are some of the most friendly, open-minded people in the world, so once you find yourself amongst fellow backpackers, it's fairly easy to strike up conversations. However, for those who prefer not to stay at hostels or use social media, it can be difficult to find other travelers to hang out with.
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If you find yourself feeling isolated from the traveling community, then expat or hotel bars are excellent places to go. Just seat yourself at the bar, and you'll eventually find yourself chatting away about your travels to the bartender or the people sitting next to you (especially if you've already downed a couple of drinks).
4 Use Tinder or Bumble
Although Tinder and Bumble are primarily used for dating, you can actually use these apps to make platonic connections as well. As long as you update your profile to indicate what you're looking for (and what you're not looking for), then you'll probably find it's quite easy to connect with likeminded people.
To be safe, make sure that you're carefully screening those you're thinking about meeting (read their profiles, chat with them on the app and make your intentions clear). Plus, it's always a good idea to meet in a public place. But otherwise, swipe away!
3 Join travel groups on Facebook
There are many Facebook travel groups you can join that will help to connect you with fellow backpackers. Although a lot of these groups are quite large, there are also specific, smaller groups to join that will put you in touch with people who are in traveling in the same area as you. Just search for the country you'll be visiting, and you'll probably find lots of groups to choose from!
You can post something yourself in the group (about where you'll be or sights you're interested in), or you can respond to others and offer to meet up with them. Many people find travel mates in this way, and often, long-term friendships are formed. Just make sure you stay safe and meet up with people in public spaces!
2 Use Meetup
The Meetup app is a great way to connect with new people for both locals and travelers alike. It allows users to browse group events that are happening nearby, from guided walking tours to board game nights to hiking trips. Everyone who attends a Meetup event is there to meet new people (it's in the name), so don't hesitate to introduce yourself to strangers and strike up conversations.
Even if you don't stay in touch with those you meet, it's always nice to share an experience with other people while on the road, whether that's a drink or a raucous game of Trivial Pursuit.
1 Visit common tourist destinations and chat with the travelers there
If you want to meet travelers, go where the travelers go. And luckily, given that you, too, will be a traveler, it's likely you'll be visiting popular tourist sites. When you're there, send out feelers to those around you (again, lone travelers are often the most receptive to interaction). Make a comment to someone nearby about the destination you're at, or, if all else fails, remark upon how lovely the weather is (but only if you've exhausted all other options, please).
It will quickly become clear whether or not the person you are speaking with is open to more interaction. One easy way to start talking with others is to ask them to take a picture of you. Sometimes, a conversation naturally blossoms. And if not, at least you've got the picture!