If you’ve read my last post on tips to make friends when you travel alone, this is the second part of the post and video.
Each time I plan a new trip, I experience a slight hesitation. The old demons revive in my head and echo– What if you start feeling lonely? What if something happens and there’s no one to help you?
Often they come from my waning self-confidence and my tendency to occasionally doubt myself. I keep forgetting it’s something I have capability to control as solo traveler, moreso than if I ventured with a partner! I forget how I’m always meeting people on the road and how I’m happier, winsome and my personality has a chance to come out vs. hide behind another person.
I keep forgetting how “having a partner”, can actually be more “work” than if I’m on my own.
But okay, back to my post~ as I’ve said before, solo travel is not lonely nor doesn’t have to be.
However, there’s going to be times when loneliness on the road feels unavoidable. Loneliness can occur due to many
reasons- from feeling unfamiliar with a culture, isolated from social activity, … maybe, you’re dipping into self-pity for being on your own or you’re just too shy to meet people.
Keep in mind, wherever you go, if you see people, then you’re not alone. Loneliness is a choice. There are always opportunities to make friends and I’m going to share a few more ways!
Solo Travel & Making Friends when Traveling Alone (Part 2)
Talk to locals
So there’s a language barrier between you and locals… so what? Mime, gesture, find ways to play with your communication… Laughter is a positive universal language.
I tend to find some locals enjoy when a traveler speaks to them. Either it’s a way to practice their English, an honor that a foreigner wants to talk to them, a novelty or just a cool way to share a friendly bridge in a world of differences. Sometimes, with children, I let them play with my camera. This brings smiles and some fun photos like the one above.
Stay with locals
It’s a great way to make friends in the city you’re in. Here’s some ideas:
Couchsurfing.com is a free site, where you can book a place on someone’s couch or just try to find people to meet up to have coffee. I personally, have not tried this site yet, but a lot of travelers vouch for it. Of course, like all things, you should use caution and street smarts about the people you’re meeting or staying with.
Homestays help with sustainable tourism. In some countries you can stay with a local family and experience an entirely different type of lifestyle and cultural exchange. I did a homestay in Nepal and learned how to cook, explored the town, and got to understand how locals lived in farming environments. Best of all, the program helped women’s empowerment, allowing them to be breadwinners in the community. One of the best experiences of my solo travels in Nepal.
Make an effort
For shy people making an effort to meet people is a challenge, but do it. Force yourself to open and active about meeting people . When you’re traveling alone, it’s easy to feel shy at times or to feel awkward for being alone. Don’t be. Talk to people. Be a Yes Wo/man! Make an effort to make friends and life will surprise you.
Go to where the group is.
Extend an invitation to others to join you.
Invite yourself to things.
Tip: Invite others to do things with you if they sound interested in doing the same thing.
If you observe other travelers and how they work, and you’ll find that’s what they’re doing. They’re being resourceful. And that’s how they’re making friends. You don’t know how many solo female travelers I meet who run up to me and ask if I’m taking a taxi to the same location. If I do, they ask if they can share my cab and split the fare. It happens a lot!
Remember: The more you do this, the more you’ll get comfortable with it. I never used to be the type of person to invite myself into other peoples’ plans. Now, I don’t think twice.
Don’t take rejection personally .
Traveling alone has taught me to have a thick skin, because much of my needs are survival based. Yes, there are times you’ll meet rejection– maybe someone doesn’t want to do the same thing as you, they don’t want extra company or perhaps, they prefer to spend the time with someone else. Don’t take it personally. Please, please, please don’t.
Learn to see a situation for what it honestly is– facilitating travel. The more you travel alone, the more you’ll recognize it in yourself and others. Travelers use other travelers to facilitate and engineer forwards travel. It is absolutely not a membership only or popularity club- there is simply no time to go that deep into relationships. On the road, travelers consider budget survival first. Traveling can be expensive and there is a time limit to it. You’ll find travelers prioritizing money and time.
I decline invitations for the same reason and it’s because I already have a mental vision of what I want to experience in my day and someone else’s offer doesn’t align with that. It has nothing to do with the other person. Similarly, I might get rejected too (although,… that actually hasn’t happened to me yet. More or less, I’ve only met rejection from friends who are travel companions. Funny right?).
Okay, whatever. Shrug it off- go onto the next person until you find a Yes!
– “Give yourself a chance to meet the stranger you’ve never met …in yourself!”
Travel teaches us how to make unlikely friends. I know some of you will whine,”But I just don’t get along with some people; they’re “not my type.”
So let me ask you this– what is not your type of human being? Yes, we all have personalities we get along with and don’t. In the end, we’re all human beings and the beauty of travel is that it doesn’t make any distinctions.
I get it though. Maybe you’re not into the partying or bar hopping crowd or you don’t like loud travelers. I’m not big on those things either, and generally, those are travelers I try to avoid, when I’m being close-minded. But the thing is this– you don’t have to hang with that person when they party. Maybe you just need a day mate or a friend to visit one site with. You’re simply sharing a moment in time together and then parting. Also, human bonding may make you see those “type” of travelers in a new light. Maybe you discover that “type” of person brought an extra kick to your day. Maybe they pushed you outside your comfort zone to do something you might have never tried on your own,… but is now the highlight of your trip! Occasional “wild cards” are necessary to a good adventure. And the beauty of solo travel… you can walk away when you feel like it.
When I was living in South Korea, I met a lot of people in my native English teacher’s program who weren’t like me. Going out with them, at times, felt like wearing mismatched shoes, but I still did it. And I did not regret it. In the end, every human being offers something valuable and you might just miss it if you’re too selective about finding your ideal type of travel companion.
Did you miss Part I of my solo travel tips on how to make friends when you travel alone? Read it right now here.
One should always be safe and cautious about who they make friends or trust. While I use most of these tips I’m sharing, I never divulge important information or let my guard down completely. I also use my independence to detach from people or situations, when they don’t feel right.