Meeting people as a solo traveller
Solo travel can be a life changing experience in terms of building your confidence and learning to enjoy your own company, but sometimes it’s fun to meet up with other people while you travel.
So, how can you meet people when you travel alone ? Sure, there are the obvious options like staying in a hostel to meet fellow travellers, but here are eight ideas you might not have thought of to get social when you are solo travelling.
Keep reading to find out how to meet people when you travel alone !
1. Yoga retreats
Travelling solo can be an intimidating prospect, especially for those who are used to group holidays or family trips. However, giving yourself some intensive “me” in a retreat time can be one of the easiest ways to truly unwind – and there is no better place to do that than on a yoga retreat. We’ve rounded up some of the best places in Southeast Asia to regain that inward focus and balance body and mind on a healthy holiday programme for one. Whether you’re looking to meet new people or simply escape for a little while, these solo yoga retreats will give you the Zen you’ve been searching for.
Real Life Example: I graduated from a medium size university in Canada and when I was visiting London in the United Kingdom, I joined an alumni meet up at a restaurant with fifteen other graduates and met people from Switzerland, Ibiza, and Australia with careers ranging from bankers, lawyers, engineers and more. It was a fun change from having dinner by myself and I got some great tips for visiting the city !
Meet people as a solo traveller at an art class
2. Classes and workshops
A smart way to meet locals is by signing up for a class or workshop for a topic that interests you like art, cooking, dancing etc. Have a quick look on a website like Eventbrite to see what comes up, and choose something that fits your price range and suits your interest. This can be a great way to meet locals rather than just other travellers, since these kinds of events aren’t usually marketed just to visitors.
Real Life Example: I was visiting Vancouver on a work trip and found a modern art workshop on Eventbrite that was about three hours long on a Tuesday evening. The workshop was in an art studio in a cool old building downtown and I got to connect with five local women and try a new activity I had never done before. Modern art was a bit out of my comfort zone, but that turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of the trip, and way better than just staying in the hotel watching television at night !
Meet people as a solo traveller on tours and day trips
3. Guided tours, day trips and activities
This one may be a bit more obvious, but joining a walking tour or other organized activity for visitors is a great way to meet fellow travellers and learn more about your destination. Depending on your interests, walking tours, food tasting tours, and even day trips can be a great way to meet people !
Real Life Example: I visited Taiwan for four days by myself and by joining a food tasting night market tour, I met several other backpackers and we made plans to explore the city together than next day. One person I met was even staying at the same hostel as me, but I only got to know her once we started chatting over dinner on the food tour, and we ended up going on a day trip to a nearby village together later that week. You can read more about my Taipei walking tour experience here.
Meet people as a solo traveller
4. Connect with people from previous trips
Have a look through your Instagram or Facebook and think of people you met on past trips, if they are from the destination you want to visit, they may very well be happy to show you around or meet up for dinner. Keep in mind that even if you met someone in one destination, like a trip to Europe, they might actually be from somewhere else that you are going, like Australia or New Zealand !
Real Life Example: On another visit to Washington DC, I reached out to someone who had been on a G Adventures North West USA tour with me the previous summer, and he happened to have the day off work. We spent the day going around the city and my friend brought us to a great vegetarian restaurant I probably wouldn’t have found by myself. This is such a great way to get local insider tips !
Meet people as a solo traveller special events
5. Check out festivals and special events
Have a quick look on either the destination city website or local tourism association website to see if any festivals or special events will be on during your visit. You might find something free and fun to do like a themed walking tour where you could meet locals and visitors.
Real Life Example: I did a short weekend trip to Toronto in 2019 and I checked out what festivals were on and found a weekend long celebration called ‘Jane’s Walk’ where volunteers were offering free walking tours presenting certain kinds of architecture around the city. I was originally just going to visit a certain park by myself, but instead I was able to join a group led by a local author who told us the history of all the statues and sculptures in the park, which I never would have known just by looking if I had visited alone !
Meet people as a solo traveller on a museum tour
6. Join a museum tour
In most cases, large museums will have guided tours led by either volunteers or curators at least a few times a day. If you were planning to visit the museum anyway, check what times these are on, as the people leading these tours will almost certainly be locals and can share insider tips about both the museum and the city !
Real Life Example: When I visited Washington DC by myself, I joined a free docent led tour of the National Portrait Gallery branch of the Smithsonian, and two local women guided the tour. We got lots of interesting facts about the Diane Arbus exhibition that was on and I enjoyed having a real conversation about the art rather than just wandering around a gallery looking at things by myself. They also recommended an exhibition I might enjoy at a different gallery, I got so much more out of that visit than just looking at paintings alone.
Hoi An Food Tasting Tour
7. Join activities offered by large social hostels – even if you aren’t staying there
Sometimes you might want the social atmosphere of a hostel during the day, but not the noise and bother of parties going on all night. What you can do in this case is to choose a quieter hostel to stay at, but check out activities offered by a larger or more social hostel and usually they don’t mind if you join in ! This can be a great way to meet fellow travellers without being overwhelmed by staying at large, party-oriented hostels, if that’s not your style.
Real Life Example: When I visited Hoi An by myself after doing a tour of Northern Vietnam, I stayed at a smaller hostel and joined in a food tasting tour and happy hour social event offered by a larger hostel chain called Tribee, just down the road from where I was staying. I got to join in the fun and meet people, but also got a good night’s sleep and peace and quiet when I was done for the day.
Meet people as a solo traveller couch surfing
8.Couchsurfing events and weekly meetings
Update: As of 2021, the Couchsurfing platform is no longer free to access and requires a sign up and payment so it may no longer be as useful to travellers looking for low cost activities.
Many people have heard of Couchsurfing as a way to find free accommodation and connect with locals and fellow travellers, but did you know that you don’t actually need to stay with anyone to participate ? If you check the Couchsurfing listings for your destination city, there will often be a weekly meet-up at a bar or restaurant and sometimes people will also organize activities and day trips like hikes and picnics. This is a great option if you are not comfortable actually staying with a stranger, but still want to meet fellow travellers. The ‘Meetup’ website also offer similar options for people to create events for others who are interested in joining.
Bonus Tip: if you have an idea for activity, you can post if yourself and see if anyone else is interested in coming along !
Real Life Example: When I was in Toronto for work, I went to the weekly Couchsurfing meet up at a local restaurant and I met some travellers who were on their way to the Electric Island Music Festival later the same weekend, so I ended up also buying a ticket and coming along with them to the festival !