As a solo female traveler, I receive lots of questions, and a main one is, "How do I make friends when traveling?" In July, I sold my belongings to start my journey as a digital nomad. Since then, I have visited Cabo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Aruba, Curacao, and Dubai. And that's just in the past six months!
Before I left home, one of my main fears was that I wouldn't make friends. Even as an extrovert, I dread small talk and shallow relationships. I was nervous that traveling full-time would leave no room for deep connections and that I would only have fleeting moments with random people I'd meet.
However, as my journey continues, I've realized that I am never truly alone. We are all more alike than we are different and we all have a desire for deep friendship. If you put yourself out there, you'll find your tribe.
I attended an Alicia Keys concert in Dubai solo and ended up singing and dancing the night away with a group of girls I met there. I stayed in a co-living space in Mexico City for three months and found an incredible community of people to share my time with there. In Oaxaca, I traveled solo and met a group of people at a party, and the following weekend we all met up in Tulum. I love serendipitous moments like these.
Solo travel opens the doors of infinite possibilities to make meaningful connections, so release your defenses, drop all the agendas and show up fully as yourself.
Here are 5 tips for making friends abroad:
1. Be open to new things or unexpected moments.
As a solo traveler, it's completely OK to feel out of place. You are in a new country or destination, after all! Don't be so hard on yourself if you don't hit it off right away with the first few people you meet. Have an open mind about the relationships you are forming and release the pressure. Some friendships might be seasonal, while some might develop into lifelong connections. You are not in control of the outcome, so be open and put yourself out there with no expectations.
2. Utilize social media.
It's called "social" media for a reason. Search for meet-up groups that align with your interests. Join Facebook travel groups, and don't be afraid to shoot your friendship shot in the DMs. Download WhatsApp. I didn't use this platform much before traveling, but it's one of the main apps I use to stay connected to people and find out about cool events happening nearby.
3. Go on free walking tours.
I love free walking tours because they provide you with so much history and context about the country. They're fun and a laid-back way to meet people who are also new to the city. Also, signing up for experiences on Airbnb will allow you to meet people with the same interests as you. You are usually more approachable and likely to connect with people when you show up solo.
4. Choose accommodations wisely.
With remote work and travel gaining more and more popularity, many companies are catering to the needs of travelers. Instead of staying in a hotel, try looking into different co-living spaces and even hostels. One co-living website that I used is called Outsite, and there are other similar options such as WifiTribe, and Remote Year.
5. Step outside your comfort zone.
You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Strike up a conversation first, even if you stumble over your words, and keep going. One of the best things about traveling is meeting new people and broadening your perspective. The world is waiting to meet you!
Featured image by wagnerokasaki/Getty