Ah, the joys of traveling alone. You can start your day when you want, skip the museums if you’d rather be outside, and enjoy a quiet hike if you need some ‘me time.’ It’s all up to you on how you spend your day when you’re traveling solo. There’s a thrilling freedom about traveling on your own, but there also comes a time on any solo trip when you get a little lonely. After all, shared experiences while traveling create not only memories but bonds for a lifetime.
Here are a few ideas on how you can enjoy all the benefits of solo travel, while still meeting fellow travelers and locals.
No more “table of one.” Hit happy hour or dine with a local
It’s often the most dreaded aspect of traveling solo. Dining alone— it’s not always so appealing, is it? While breakfast and lunch are easy to grab in a causal spot, figuring out how to eat dinner alone—and enjoy it—might be a bit more intimidating for travelers going solo, especially for first-timers.
Finding a ‘happy hour’ nearby is always an option, even if you’re not throwing back beers, it can be comforting to be surrounded by a causal, social crowd, i.e., not couples having a romantic date night. It’s also a great way to experience a nice restaurant while saving a few dollars and avoiding the dreaded “Table of one, please.”
Or check out sites that pair you up with welcoming locals hosting dinner parties and supper clubs, such as BonAppetour, VoulezVousDiner, MealSharing, and EatWith. And there’s always a solo street food tour—plenty of photos ops and eliminated any uneasiness with dining along in a restaurant.
Take a class and learn more about the culture
Traveling solo can be so convenient during busy days of sightseeing, but once the sun goes down, do you just curl up with Netflix and your laptop? Nah, you can do that at home. Instead, why not sign up for a class and learn a new skill and immerse yourself in a new culture?
Sign up for a photography class—or photography meet-up. This way you’re learning some new photo skills that will help you bring home beautiful shots of your travels. Or perhaps it’s a cooking class: learn how to make pizza and gelato in Rome, or sushi and ramen in Tokyo, or cheese in Vermont.
Or maybe the most productive use of your time is taking a language class so that you can communicate more with the locals. Taking a language class abroad is also an easy way to meet up with other travelers, too. Even finding a yoga class is a low-stress way to meet people when traveling. Always arrive a bit early so you can strike up a conversation before any class begins.
Stay in a social-minded hotel or hostel
Perhaps you’ve outgrown hostel life, or maybe you were never into the idea of sharing a bunk-bed with strangers. But good news, the trend of social hotels goes beyond hostel life. With solo travel on the rise, hotels are offering more socially minded stays. Fellah Hotel, a boutique hotel in the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, caters to creative communities by hosting artists-in-residence, as well as independent film screenings, dinner parties, and live DJs. Or stay on a friendly avocado farm at Earth Lodge, an eco-focused treehouse lodge in the Antiqua with includes a yoga studio and communal dinners nightly. Choose a place to stay that offers experiences and a social vibe like KEX, a more grown-up Icelandic hostel in downtown Reykjavik that also has private rooms.
Find a locally run tour
There comes a time on every solo trip where you find yourself missing the joys of shared experiences. Connect with locals for an authentic look into a destination. WithLocals is an excellent alternative to big-box tours; this Dutch scale-up marketplace connects travelers with verified local hosts in 30 cities across Europe and Asia. Think personalized and unique experiences like listening to Fado music Lisbon, checking out the floating local boat markets in Bangkok, or biking through Amsterdam with a local that knows the way. See another side of New York and meet people with similar interests with not-so-typical travel tour company Peek. Find fellow runners on a Brooklyn Bridge Running Tour or get an intro to archery in Flushing.
Do you have any tips or tricks for meeting people when traveling solo?