How To Put Yourself Out There When You’re Travelling Alone
There's only so many selfies you can take.
This feature is brought to you in partnership with 5 Seeds Cider.
You’ve made it. You saved up, got the ticket, jumped on the plane, held your breath and now you’re here. You’re somewhere you’ve never been before and you’re with no one you know. It’s magic. It’s exhilarating and it’s the best decision you’ve ever made. Except that you’ve been travelling for days and the only humans you’ve spoken to have been waiters, or on Skype. And you’re getting kind of lonely.
Whether you’re wandering through the Venice Biennale staring desperately at beautiful Italian art students you’re too terrified to speak to or biking alone through the back-alleys of Söder hoping beyond hope that a Swedish fixie gang will adopt you like a lost little duckling, travelling by yourself can be kind of isolating. Fortunately, making friends when you’re on your own is easy. Here’s how it’s done.
Use your phone
There’s a whisper that has spread from single female traveller to single female traveller. A whisper that’s gone global and become something of a legend… And the legend is ‘Le Tinder’. Yes, the quality of babes that populate Tinder in Paris will have you swiping right so many times your thumb will get RSI. It’s so genius, New York Magazine wrote a trend piece about it. But just because you’re not in Paris doesn’t mean it’s not worth firing up your phone. Using an app that’s specifically designed with meeting people in mind is a really easy way to get that first “hello” over – as well as Tinder, you can try out HelloTel, Somebody, Skout or Wander. You might not find love, but if you can get a lovely lady or gentleman to introduce you to their friendship group, you will find adventure.
Exploit your networks
Facebook is a frequent traveller’s best friend. A simple “I’m going to Cambodia, does anyone know anyone?” status update will often be enough to land fully hooked up. You might not know anyone in the place you’re headed, but the chances are you have a friend of a friend who does. Be explicit about the fact you want to meet new people, and new people will be @Tagged right at you. So go forth, be safe and have fun.
Use the Internet
Are you a passionate live music enthusiast? Do you have borderline professional knowledge of superhero movies? Can you hit a free throw in basketball blindfolded with one hand behind your back? Your hobbies are an entry pass to a world of new friends, so use them. Every city has meetup groups based around people’s hobbies and interests, so do a bit of research before you arrive in a new destination, and see if you can time your visit to coincide with the monthly gathering of [insert your passion here]. Everyone loves a foreigner, so the chances are you’ll meet at least one person who’s keen to take you on a city tour and show you how it’s done.
Change your address
If you’re staying in a nice, or even an only-just-okay hotel, there’s a good chance you won’t speak to anyone save the concierge. Even party hotels like the W and the Ace aren’t ideal for making friends when you’re totally alone. Just walking up to someone in a hip lobby bar and saying “hello” takes crazy, crazy confidence for many. But, if you’re staying at a backpackers, all it takes is a slab of cider and a warm smile to get the whole place talking. Once the ice is broken and the first bottle opened, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a kindred spirit.
Then, there’s Airbnb. While renting a whole apartment may seem like a lush idea, you’re going to find it easier to meet people if you hire a room in a house with someone around your own age who seems cool from their profile picture. It’ll be cheaper too. Who knows, you might spend a whole night drinking tea and having deep chats with your Airbnb host, adding a whole lot of depth to your experience of the city.
Get a job
Some of your best friends can be made at some of your worst jobs. Sure, the kind of under-the-table work you can get as a traveller is not going to be fun or glamorous, but if you’re doing it to meet new people, that hardly matters. Doing a couple of shifts as a dish pig will put you in the way of locals, and it’ll help a lot with your language skills too.
If a paid gig isn’t really what you’re looking for, then find a cause you believe in and volunteer to help out. You’ll meet a lot of likeminded new friends – people who donate their time tend to be be united by their shared cause and giddy with the glow of altruism, so it should be easy to all get along.
Make it easy for people
Sure, if you can approach someone with a “Hi, my name is…”, that makes meeting people a whole lot easier. But making sure you seem approachable too can really make a difference. Wear a bright shirt, or a piece of eccentric jewellery (no puka shells though, gents), and you’ll be handing potential new friends a very easy conversation starter. Now, I’m not telling you to go out and channel Kimmy Schmidt if you don’t want to, but finding something to wear that’s bright and distinctive will honestly help.
When you look at the world differently, opportunities open up. We’ve partnered with 5 Seeds Cider to offer fresh perspectives and out of the ordinary stories on travel.