How To: Meet People on the Road

Earlier this week I explained some of my favorite parts of solo travel. But sometimes you just want someone to talk to for a few minutes, to get out of your head and into society for a little while.

Tip 1: Stay somewhere where you’ll interact with people.

In addition to being cheap, hostels are great places to meet up with other travelers, either solos or groups. People who stay at hostels seem to be more open to chatting, sharing ideas about things to do in the area, or even joining up for a meal or an excursion. Just be sure, before you head out for a long day with someone, that you actually want to spend time with them. I had the unfortunate experience of meeting the dumbest girl in the world in a Florence hostel (example: Upon seeing endless “Madonna con Bambinos” at the Uffizi galleries, she asked, in her loud, flat Aussie voice, “So who’s this Madonna then?” My answer: “Um, the mother of Jesus.” To which she replied, “But that was Mary!” Yup.), and she tagged along with me all the way to Rome. Not ideal.

Tip 2: Eat at the bar.

Dinners are when a solo traveler feels most obviously alone. Eating at the bar invites conversation, either with the bartender or your fellow patrons. I had a progressive dinner while I was in Portland, stopping at several bars for a drink and a snack at each, and at the  Deschutes Brewery, while enjoying something more bitter than I’d expected and a savory onion tart, I dove into a very odd conversation with a former waiter at the pub who was going through some tough times with his babymama. It got pretty deep, as conversations while drinking with total strangers sometimes can. Embrace it. You’ll never see these people again.

Tip 3: Join a tour group.

I don’t mean that you should take your whole trip with a tour group. That sounds horrific. But to join up with a group that’s doing a bike tour of Amsterdam, for example, or a literary pub crawl in Dublin, would be a nice way to hang out with some new folks for a few hours. And if you have fun on your tour, you can just segue nicely into dinner afterward… or a few more pints.


4 thoughts on “How To: Meet People on the Road

  1. I’m working on a post about hotels for solo travelers right now myself. I think social accommodations are critical, that’s where I meet most of my travel friends. I don’t usually eat at the bar. I should do that more when I travel in the US (my most challenging solo travel destination).

    • Yeah, Americans are funny about talking to strangers, that’s true. I had my best luck with domestic solo travel in Portland, where everyone is very chill and very *interested* (it seemed to me). And I’d like to think that Chicago is solo-friendly, but that’s just because I love talking to people from out of town.

      • It’s not that Americans are unfriendly – just the opposite. The issue for me is that we have limited hostels and budget accommodations, so the spaces where I would usually meet people aren’t there.

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