Going out to see the world is its own reward, but there are ways to sweeten the trip. As inevitable as it may be to share your experiences with friends at home, you don’t have to wait until after a plane ride to do it. You can share those moments with friends you meet abroad, as you live through them -- and those friends can go from people met by chance to lifelong pals. If you’re traveling solo, then these suggestions can help you find a good travel buddy along the way.
Use the internet beforehand
You’d think that hopping online would mean the opposite of meeting new people, but the reverse is true. Social media and basic research can help you find people that are willing to bond with you. Narrowing down the search for travel buddies becomes a lot easier when you have something to focus on, so try gearing a search toward something you know you’ll be doing and enjoying along the way -- like hiking, for example. Sites like Reddit and LinkedIn can also give you good information about an area, and some of the helpful professionals you’ll meet during your stay.
Stay in hostels
As tempting as it may be to slip into a comfy hotel during your trip, you’ll have had much more fun by sticking with hostels. As a sort of dormitory for travelers, it puts people from various walks of life in close quarters with one another -- and that gives you the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation. Whether it’s a family on vacation or a young traveler eager to see the world, you’ve got a much better shot of finding a friendly travel buddy in a hostel than in a private suite. As a bonus, hostels are perfect for those who want to save a little money along the way.
Going on vacation is all about having fun and taking time to unwind -- so there’s no sense in getting worked up over mingling with unfamiliar faces. As a traveler, your job is to enjoy your trip; you’ve got a much better chance at it if you open up and let others in. Whether it’s the locals eager to share parts of their world, or fellow travelers far from home, everyone leaves their comfort zones to enter a mutual, friendly space. Feel free to step in, and give others a chance to learn more about you.
Bond over hobbies
Making friends becomes much easier when you have some common ground. That doesn’t stop being true just because you go out of town; if you can find a subject that you share with locals or fellow travelers -- a hobby, an interest, and everything in between -- then you can help build a lasting friendship. In fact, one advantage that traveling offers is that you can enjoy hobbies while you socialize. If you’re a fan of a sport, gear your trip so you can head to a place that embraces said sport. Like-minded individuals -- and potential friends -- are sure to head there, too.
Embrace the culture
Part of getting out of your comfort zone means being willing to try new things -- and nothing says “new” like the way of life for a different city, state, or even country. Being willing and ready to learn about a new culture, whether it’s through simple tourism or a more active approach, can help you bond with others. It’d be simple to drum up a conversation with travel partners who are giving the local cuisine a try alongside you, or to probe friendly locals for more info about an art piece that catches your eye.
Visit the local hotspots
Even the humblest town has something to celebrate within its borders. Heading to a hotspot during your travels will not only give you something to remember, but also let you get in contact with some potential friends. If you’ve got the stomach for it, try heading to the local pubs to find a range of interesting people while enjoying a good drink. Hotels and restaurants also make for good social outings; if you can pal around over a tasty meal, then you’ve got a shot at making some new travel buddies.
Be eager to talk
While traveling, you’ve got no shortage of options and opportunities to interact with people; don’t waste them; even if it’s something as simple as going from one stop on your trip to the next, there are still people you can convert into friends along the way. Be friendly, smile, and always stay ready to strike up a conversation, whether they’re travel partners or otherwise. You never know when someone you meet could go from a stranger to a lifelong friend.
Always stay safe
It’s important to remember that you don’t know every facet of every person around you. You’ll likely meet some friendly faces along the way, but there could just as easily be others that want to take advantage of or even harm you. Keep precious details about your life private, avoid risky situations that can pull you away from others, and stay smart. If you protect yourself, you’ll be able to make the journey home - and have some new friends to show for it.
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