Travelling Alone | On making friends and why it is worth the while

Travelling is in itself a liberating experience. But, solo travelling? Now that sounds a little daunting. But hang on, trust me, it does not have to be.

I remember the first time I was living alone in a new city. Although it was nerve wracking at the start, the rush of excitement and the eagerness of self-dependency made all the nerves subside. Eventually I got the hang of it and loved it.

Travelling alone can be one of the most eye opening experiences, that is if you are truly interested in it. Some say that the plans that are made in the moment are the best ones, well my friend that is where i have to agree to disagree.

Solo travels require some work to be done before pumping on the gas of the wanderlust automobile, primarily for safety reasons. 

Besides all the soul searching and sightseeing, the best part about solo travel is the opportunity of making friends or as I like to call them, walking stories.

Are you up for a solo trip anytime soon? Or maybe just dipping your feet into the ocean of curiosity? Well, here are a few tips on making friends when travelling alone. Let’s start the journey.

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.”- Izaak Walton

1) Know enough about the place

Well, this is as plain as it can get. When travelling to a new city, country or continent it is always wise to know some of the basic things about the place.

Now, do not get me wrong, I am not saying that you would have to memorise the entire dictionary. 

But, little bits and bobs of the language can help you go a long way. Knowing the culture and traditions, public practices and yes, the transport system of the place would only be helpful during your stay.

Rest assured helpful people are always around. Many people (more than you may think) want to make friends just as much as you do.

2) Have an approachable demeanor

If you just generally have an RBF, dear friend, I don't mean to offend you with this one. Naturally, people will be more likely to talk to you if you have an approachable attitude or how they call it nowadays, “the right vibe”. It's all in the vibes.

So, if you are alone at a coffee shop, or reading that book you got two years ago at a park, or maybe just sunbathing on the beach, having a friendly form will attract people to want to talk to you.

3) Have confidence

Do you have a hard time holding someone else’s gaze? Yup, that’s me. Don’t worry, confidence is something we can always work on.

Confidence is like a magnet. While travelling alone, being confident can be a tool for self-defence. With no one but yourself to lean on, trusting your instincts is key. By being confident, you show people that you know what you are doing. It does not really give room for people to trick you.

Sometimes, you would be surprised by how a situation can bring out the confidence you never knew you had. 

4) Sign up for group activities

Picking up from the previous tip, solo travels can get quite lonely (sometimes). So, another way to meet people would be to try out some group activities. The options are numerous, be it pottery classes, dance lessons, art sessions or yoga at sunrise.

There is always a lot you can try out in a new place. You don't have to be good at it, but while you are at it  lose yourself in the process and have fun!

5) Consider staying in hostels

Although I personally enjoy being on my own, travelling alone can be too quiet at times. So, instead of getting yourself a room at a hotel or an AirBnB you can always try hostels. 

They are a good and less expensive alternative.

While saving up your bucks, you will also most likely meet fellow travellers like yourself. For the rest of the day, you can either make plans together or just spend time by yourself, it's all up to you.

“Travelling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!” 

6) Visit public places

Every destination will have its own special places. Visiting public places like tourist destinations (although mighty crowded), parks, museums, art galleries can be a good way to connect with locals and other tourists.

There is nothing like meeting someone who has the same interests, that too miles aways from your bubble (super cool).

7) Initiate conversations

Now, this can be a little intimidating. However, it is probably the most natural way of making connections. 

And if the person you talk to seems uninterested, don't worry there are too many people you can still talk to.

You are most likely going to find people who want to converse with you. Be it one of the locals or another traveler, conversations make the best connections. 

 You might be making lasting relations, for all you know.

8) Use Apps

Most of us have become kids of the internet. It's only very natural for us to meet people using certain apps. Be it Tinder or Backpackr, there are so many apps to choose from.

But, Your safety is the most important thing. So make sure your profile lets people know what you are in for; a date or a travel guide that is all up to you.  Avoid meeting online friends in secluded areas at all costs.

9) Connect with other travellers

“A friend in need is a friend indeed!” So, do not shy away from connecting with other fellow travellers. They are most probably looking for the same thing as you are. You never know, the next time you may be visiting their home country.

Sometimes you bond with people over the littlest things - a book, a movie, a dish, an experience or even a quote about travelling (perhaps the one that has been on your phone for forever).

10) Burst out of the comfort bubble

I will be the first to admit that this is easier said than done.  But, this is the push that travelling alone gives you. 

Try out new things, work that pose, dance your heart out like no one is watching, talk to that person you find interesting, join that art class, take a solo bike ride. The possibilities are endless and so are the friends you can make.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” - Mary Anne Radmacher

Why is travelling alone worth the while ?

Now that we have some tips on making friends while travelling alone, it is only fitting to talk about why it is worth the while. 

Why has solo travel become such a soul searching experience for most people? Call it having a mid - life crisis, or existential crisis or just a wanderlust spirit, here’s why travelling alone is so worth it.

A renewed point of view

Sometimes a change in our surroundings can be so stimulating. Travelling opens us to the lives of others far from where we are settled, only to realize that we are all living under the same sky. Their struggles become personal and their joys become our joy. 

Travelling alone can make us more empathetic. We just have to allow ourselves to be carried by the wind every once in a while.

Discover new skills

Sometimes it takes being tested to know what hidden strength lay hidden inside of us. Be it overcoming a fear or just trying something you never thought you would or discovering a skill, travelling alone is a catalyst for new discoveries.

Patience and bravery

Well, this was a difficult one even for me.

When all you have is yourself to show up to everyday, you learn to be more patient (and disciplined) with yourself. 

You become more self - aware of your strengths and shortcomings. Although dealing with them is not always very pretty, no one becomes brave without being challenged. 

So, embrace it all and be effortlessly you. Solo travel gives you the perfect opportunity to increase your level on the brave meter.

One advice; do not beat yourself up for your shortcomings. A silly mistake that might have made you upset can become something you laugh at later on. Make mistakes, as much as you should.

Leaning into self

The idea of living under your own skin for all your life can seem terrifying. Learning to live in tune with yourself and your surroundings can be the most liberating feeling. 

When you are travelling alone, you learn to lean into yourself more than ever. That can be the most frustrating and healing antidote there ever existed.

Embracing a new culture

One of the best takeaways from travelling is embracing the culture. From learning a new language, to indulging  in the food to dancing to the music, these are the joys that travel adds to life.

Maybe somewhere down the time, a similar tune rings and you are teleported to that exact moment. Happy and incandescent.

“The Earth has music for those who listen.” - William Shakespeare

Memories for a lifetime

I always like to think that we are all collections of stories. I like to call people ‘walking stories' (don't ask me why). 

 Our lives are a collection of the connections we made, be it with a stranger, a place, an animal or heck even a forest for all I know. 

Traveling alone guarantees you a collection of irreplaceable memories. So, while you're at it, make it worth your while. I promise it won't disappoint.

TIP : Safety first

Despite all the adrenaline rush and the fun that comes with travelling, one thing remains a priority. Your safety.

There is no doubt that travelling alone teaches you a lot of things. However, your safety cannot be compromised. 

Always make sure your closest circle knows your whereabouts. Trust your gut feeling, if something does not feel right, you can always say NO. 

Trust me that does not make you impolite. Make sure to meet people in public places and not anywhere that is too secluded.

Lets go

If it's the mountains beckoning you, or the city lights that you call home, or the waters that make your soul sing, I hope you take a leap of faith and follow that wanderlust voice. 

It will lead you to some of the most liberating places of your life.

If it's learning to be comfortable being on your own, or discovering a new skill or making friends while travelling, travelling alone is a worthwhile experience. Before you know it, you might have caught the travel bug.

Grab your travelling bag, throw in those comfy t-shirts (or dresses), put on those sunnies, charge that camera, let's get to recharging those human batteries.

The adventure awaits.

“Dare to live the life you have always wanted.”

References

ABOUT OUR STAR AUTHOR

Oracle Wahlang is a Botanist by major and a curious learner by nature.  She is a self-labeled introvert who enjoys learning new things and having discussions with friends. She enjoys reading, sketching, painting, and yes, researching. 

She also sometimes like to think that she clicks good photographs. 😉

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