How to Make Friends While Traveling: The Art of Chatting it Up

Traveling solo(a) doesn’t mean that your entire trip has to be spent alone. There are so many ways to meet amazing people on the road— if that’s something you’re looking for. Here are just a few ways how to make friends while traveling.

On one of my first big sola journeys I had a stopover in Panama City and I stayed in a hostel (go me! I’ll surely make friends), and I sat in the lobby waiting to make friends with everyone…

so I waited…

checked my phone…

called my mom…

and ended up spending most of my time chilling in the hostel, and then reluctantly exploring the city and surrounding area on my own. I wanted to make friends instead of being by myself, but I couldn’t quite figure out why it didn’t work.

Here are five things I learned from that experience about how to make friends while traveling:

1. Stay in hostels!

Seriously, this is the one of the best ways to make friends. Most hostels also have reviews if they have a good social atmosphere, so choose one with good ratings so you know that’s their specialty.

There is generally a common area in most hostels, so instead of retreating to your room, hang out there. A lot of hostels have a kitchen with breakfast, so go there too!

Sitting down at a large group table is a great way to chat it up with other travelers and see what everyone has planned for the day. You can meet people in hotel lobbies or even in a shared space at an Air B&B, but I find that hostels attract like-minded people, and are your best bet for finding a friend.

2. Put down your phone!

I know, sorry Mom, I can’t be texting you live updates 24/7.

Nobody wants to approach someone on their phone hash-tagging their solo Instagram selfie #besttripever #nonewfriends— so put it down and do something more approachable like:

Puzzles! Okay, I know that no one wants to be that loser in a hostel building a puzzle in a common area, but seriously who wouldn’t want to be friends with a cutie piecing together a 1,000 part picture?

Honestly, it doesn’t have to be a puzzle, but take out a book, get some journaling in, or pretend you’re semi artistic and whip up some watercolor postcards…just put the stupid phone away and you’re bound to be more approachable and more likely to approach other travelers enjoying a common area as well.

3. Take a tour

how to make friend while traveling

Taking a Jeep tour of the Tatacoa Desert in Colombia

Most major cities have free walking tours—join one! It’s going to be full of other travelers out exploring the city, and it’s a great way to make friends while traveling. Many hostels/hotels offer daily city excursions for free or for a small fee (also tip your guide, duh).

Try something more adventurous or just get your bearings in a new city. Remember, chat with the fellow tour-takers for suggestions, travel plans, entire life stories… whatever.

(Provision Tip: The 2 best city tours I’ve ever experienced):

Medellin, Colombia with Real City Tours > Honest, insightful, and seriously informative.

Bogota, Colombia with Bogota Bike Tours > Explore the massive capital city by bike with a guide who never hesitates to stop for local snacks.

4. Take a class

how to make friends while traveling

Running up Big Budda Mountain in Thailand during a group workout.

Many destinations offer classes from dancing to drinking to preparing native cuisine. Find one that suits your interests and prepare to make friends with similar hobbies… yeah, it’s that easy.

Check with your hostel/hotel to see if they offer any specific classes, or ask at any local tourist office to see what they have available. When people are learning a new skill, they’re much more vulnerable and open—the perfect time to make friends while traveling!

5. Use online platforms and social media

Okay, fine. You can pick up your phone for this one. Using social media to connect while abroad is a great way to meet locals and other travelers.

Set up your social media accounts before you leave home, so when you hit the road you’ll be ready to make all the friends. My favorite social media platforms for making friends while traveling are:

An amazing way to make friends while traveling. You’re literally staying at someone’s house (on a bed, sofa…I slept in a kitchen once, but it works)! Make sure to bring something to share (wine, food, deck of cards, small gift from home) and get ready to connect!

Oh! and Couchsurfing also has meet-ups, activities, and parties if you’d prefer staying in another type of accommodation. For example: Couchsurfing in Frankfurt, Germany has awesome weekly meetings at cafes or restaurants and Paris has a weekly picnic in different parks during the summer.

Create a profile and explore to see more options.

A vast array of different group activities in cities all over the world. Meet up with other travelers and locals who love to salsa dance, rock climb, or practice yoga, for example.

I’m not kidding. Whether you’re actually looking for some exotic romances or you’d rather meet up with a new friend—customize your profile depending on what you’re looking for and start swiping!

Sometimes traveling solo(a) can be overwhelmingly lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Always take time with yourself (because you’re wonderful), but also put yourself out there, make some friends, and enrich your travels with other hearts and additional backpacks. Best of luck.

How do you make friends while on the road? Leave a comment below!