How To Make Friends as a Young Solo Female Traveller

I know, I’m doing a double take too. A travel post?! From me? What kind of crazy day is this? When I originally started this blog, I wanted to use the space to share lots of travel stories and tips, but found myself feeling a little sad whenever I started trying to write them. I was in a place where all I wanted to do was get on a plane somewhere and explore. And I couldn’t. But I think I’ve realised that now, and feel in a better mindset to positively talk about travel experiences, rather than wistfully. It also might have something to do with the fact that I’m going on some pretty epic travels in June… I’m getting pretty excited, not gonna lie.

Anyway, that is for another post. Today I want to talk about making friends. More specifically, making friends whilst travelling. I’m going to be honest here: this can be a tricky game to play. Trying to balance having fun adventures with the safety alerts going off in the back of your mind can be tiring. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be ridiculously complicated.

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And the more you travel, the greater your instinct and social skills become… Right? This is more of a hopeful wish for future me I think – I haven’t had a crazy amount of experience with this yet and social anxiety is constantly trying to erode any progress I make in the finding friends department. Nevertheless, I have had six months of experience as a young solo female traveller across a handful of countries (is this starting to sound like a CV?) so I’ve picked up a few good tips along the way.

Tried and Tested Ways to Make Friends

Hostels – kicking off with an obvious one here, but one that is definitely effective. Hostels are full of other solo travellers, and even if you’re an introvert, socially anxious or both you’re probably going to get chatting to people whether you like it or not. To increase your chances of finding amicable people, hang out in the common areas: some hostels have great facilities or events such as pool tables, quiz nights and even pub crawls that you can get involved with. It doesn’t have to be that organised though. I was using the free wifi in the lounge area of an Australian hostel once and got chatting to this girl from Switzerland. We ended up spending the whole next day together, visiting some of the sights of Melbourne and even grabbing a bite to eat.

Read: What I Learnt From the Hostel Snorer in Sydney: Travel Experiences

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Join an Organised Programme – if you feel you need a bit more structure and push to make friends, and you’re spending quite a bit of time somewhere, it could be an idea to join a programme of some sort. There are so many companies out there bringing together groups of solo travellers: from volunteering options to language schools. I did a week-long language course in Spain once (not as a solo traveller) and can see how great friendships could come out of this if it lasted a little longer; I haven’t yet tried volunteering. I have heard that a lot of volunteering companies aren’t as good as they seem, can be pricey and might not be as helpful to the local community as they sell to you. However, I have hope that there are some organisations doing great things out there, I just haven’t done the full research to tell you what they are yet…

Exchanging Work for Accommodation – unlike the above programmes, the majority of which will have a huge price tag, websites that connect willing workers with willing hosts are all about free opportunities. Hosts all around the world who need jobs doing (farm work, childcare, maintenance, animal care, etc.) allow travellers to stay with them for free, which often includes food as well as accommodation, in return for work. There are many pros, and several cons, to this method of travelling, but nevertheless it can be a great way to make friends if you’re a bit clever with it. Choose options that have a number of travellers working together on a project, such as picking fruit on a farm (which I did in Hawaii, and made a couple of great friends at the same time). If you’re looking for new mates, don’t au pair in some city suburb (which I did in Vancouver and felt totally isolated). To find these opportunities, I used the website Workaway (which has a wide range of jobs), although there are others available – one of the most common being WWOOF (purely farming options).

Read: Picked up in a stranger’s truck: Hawaii Adventures

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Use Social media/Apps – approaching someone for the first time in real life can be intimidating and awkward for many of us. Although you can’t really avoid this when travelling, there are alternative options for making friends. Use the millennial’s most trusted friend, the internet. Around the time I was living in Sydney, I ran a vegan food account on Instagram and followed a bunch of other vegan accounts of people who were also in Sydney. I started talking to a girl who lived half an hour away from where I was staying and a day or two later we met up for lunch. We ended up becoming close friends, which soon turned into a group of us, and we even ended up going camping together. And what about the blogging community? Maybe you’re on one of your favourite blogger’s home turf and could arrange to see them?

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Join a Tour – first off, these can be pricey. But, they really are worth it if you want to see lots in a short time and not be completely alone. When I was in Australia, I knew I wanted to see Uluru and the centre of the country, but that’s kind of a daunting prospect to face alone. So I booked onto a three day camping adventure – we travelled by mini bus, stayed in The Outback and did hikes I never could’ve done alone. And I made a couple of Dutch friends along the way. In New Zealand, I used the company Kiwi Experience which is basically a hop-on-hop-off coach service that drives all over the country picking up travellers. It can be scary booking onto these as a solo traveller, knowing groups of people are likely to be turning up. But chances are, someone else in your position will be there too.

Read: 5 Ways to Build Confidence and Lessen Anxiety When Travelling Alone

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Do things – it may sound silly, but it’s absolutely true. Don’t be scared to do things alone, you’e bound to bump into people along the way and if not, at least you had your own adventure! I met a girl I still talk to today halfway into a hike up a crater in Hawaii – we bonded over our total lack of preparation for such a strenuous climb in the heat and our fear of sunburn. We met up again before one of us had to leave paradise and it was such a nice surprise – sometimes you meet the best people when you’re not desperately trying to meet people.

Ways I Have Yet To Try

Obviously there are many ways to make friends as a traveller that I haven’t touched on in this post; I haven’t experienced everything out there. Two ways I have heard about are couchsurfing, and meeting people and groups through online forums. I think some people would argue that these walk the thin line between bravery and stupidity for young solo female travellers in some countries. In my opinion though, I think that if you use your common sense and you take sensible precautions, it should be fine.

Read: 7 Reasons Why You Should Take a Gap Year to Solo Travel

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Why Make the Effort to Socialise Abroad?

The best things about making friends when travelling is the things you learn from being exposed to and surrounded by people from such a diverse range of places with an equally diverse range of life stories. You make friends from all over the globe, you hear about things you have never even thought about before, you bond and laugh over shared joys and mishaps, and you’re filled up with inspiration and motivation for new adventures.

A lot of the people you form intense, close relationships with on the road are people who might very quickly fade from your life when you return home. And that’s okay. You shared an experience, you grew with each other in some way and then you went down separate paths. But a few of the friends you make abroad, in the most unlikely situations, are probably going to be people who stick around in your life for a long time. And that’s pretty incredible.


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34 thoughts on “How To Make Friends as a Young Solo Female Traveller

  1. ashleyleia says:

    Hostels and getting out and doing things have tended to work really well for me. I’ve always found it far easier to meet new people while travelling because you automatically have a shared interest that’s easy to talk about for hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FetchCandle says:

    I think the best way I met new friends was to get a job. Really, the moment you spend an entire day within some amount of people you just have to become friends with time. It’s literally impossible not to. I never socialized in hostels – I usually go with a purpose in mind so I don’t have time, but getting out will get you friends for sure.
    Dorota
    http://www.fetchcandle.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alys says:

      Yep I totally agree, I’ve got a similar post coming on making friends whilst living abroad and that’s on the list! Thanks for commenting Dorota x

      Like

  3. vividual says:

    I haven’t been traveling alone but I moved to the other end of the world by myself. I know it can be hard sometimes and people judge you for being alone as a woman. But that’s why we have to prove them wrong and show them how much fun it can be. We have to show them how many new people we met along the way. I really like your post! You’re encouraging other girls to travel alone. I did a girls road trip a few months ago shared my experience on my blog. Feel free to check it out 🙂
    https://vividual.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/a-girls-roadtrip/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It Girl says:

    I LOVE THIS. I’ve been very anxious about travelling alone – just because of the cost and because I love to share experiences with my close ones, but unfortunately travelling rarely happens because of everyone’s busy schedules etc. That’s why I’ve been considering to travel alone. I think the best thing you can do is just do things like you said – get out and try to have fun and like-minded interesting people will definitely come around!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bexa says:

    Your travel posts always inspire me to go travelling Alys! 💖 I love reading your stories. It’s awesome that your Instagram gave you the chance to meet up with likeminded people. I loved that your formed a friendship hiking a crater in Hawaii, what a cool story! I’m excited to hear more about your summer travels! 😍 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. crystalsandcurls says:

    holy fuck I’M SO SIMULTANEOUSLY PROUD AND JEALOUS OF YOU. Proud because (i really hope this doesn’t sound patronising, i promise it isn’t meant to) the idea of solo travelling is PETRIFYING and I don’t get social anxiety at all so i can just imagine having that barrier on top of just the normal fact solo travel is scary is …. girl it’s impressive as hell! I want to go travelling now ;-; xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alys says:

      Aww THANK YOU ❤ Nah it doesn't sound patronising at all, it can be very difficult. But it is so worth it! That's the thing with travel, just hearing about it makes us want to do it haha xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rainbowimagine (@Rainbowimagine) says:

    Love your post!
    I think all of these tips are really great. Ive noticed it is fairly easy to make new friends in hostels. But I am usually not afraid to nudge travelers outside hostels either. When I see people that are clearly on a trip as well, I will ask them a question on a terrace with the enjoyment of some refreshments for example. I have experience with couchsurfing. It is always good to be careful when it comes to staying with strangers but also a there are people who like to organize things in their own town and take travelers out on a street art tour for example. I always like to stay on the safe side.
    This was really helpful and i am sure lots of people will take these advices on board. As will i 🙂
    http://www.rainbowsdreamcloud.com

    Like

  8. lifewithneve says:

    These are fab tips! I never knew there were sites out there that could help you get accommodation in exchange for work thats seriously fab! I love this post and I hope that while im away this summer I can make friends with all the other people in our group by just doing things and talking with them! Great post!

    Neve | https://lifewithneve.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The S Road (@TheSRoad) says:

    Some really good ideas here.

    Last year I went on my first real solo holiday. I went to a surf & yoga camp, so even though I went on my own, there were other people on their own too. I really recommend it and I’m looking for another trip for later on this summer.

    I’ve also come back from working at a snowboarding festival as well. That was a great way to get a cheap holiday and make friends while enjoying the snow!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tyas says:

    I have never tried solo travelling (almost once, though) but after reading your post I really want to try it! And it sounds exciting to make new friends whilst traveling. A few weeks ago I went to a ceramics festival in Korea and I unexpectedly made several new friends, from high schoolers to a friendly old man I met on the subway. :)x And thank you for sharing your tips🌷

    Liked by 1 person

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