Making new friends while traveling can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of a trip. Not only can they be sharing new experiences with you on the trip, and teach you about their culture, they can also become a lifelong friend and someone you can reach out to when visiting their home country.
It can also be a little daunting to make new connections if you're in a new setting and still judging if the situation is safe or not. With a few simple tips it's really easy to safely make new friends while traveling!
Be mindful of your surroundingsPhoto by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
When you're in a new place, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. Stay in areas that are well populated and well lit at night, avoiding quiet alleys.
If you are meeting new people for the first time, suggest meeting at a popular tourist site so you're all in a safe area, and get to know each other before moving on to having meals or drinks together.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation. You can tell them you're scheduled to meet another friend so they know someone else is expecting you.
Use social media to connect with peopleSocial media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be great ways to connect with people who have similar interests or who are also traveling in the same area. There are Facebook groups that focus on female solo travelers or your age group, so you can post and find others looking to travel together in the same area.
Before you meet anyone, check their profile to see what kind of photos they post, their friends, and what groups they are active in so you have an idea of who they are. Use caution when sharing personal information online and meet in a well populated, safe area.
Stay in a hostel or share housePhoto by Valiant Made on Unsplash
Staying in a hostel is a great budget option for travel, but it is also a great meeting spot for other solo travelers. Hostels can arrange group travel but also guests tend to be more open to chatting and meeting each other. They often have common spaces to eat and work, making it easy to strike up a conversation.
I've made many friends with my bunkmates at hostels, and they led me to fun activities like a game arcade in Taipei, sushi breakfast in Tokyo, and late night karaoke with some Canadians.
Knowing they stay in the same hostel can also help feel safer as many hostels take information of each guest and you cannot enter without a keycard.
Join organized tours or groups
Photo by Tiago Rosado on Unsplash
Joining an organized tour or joining a group with a shared activity or interest can be a great way to meet new people in a safe and structured environment.
For example, if you're a huge foodie, you can join a walking food tour of the city. You can make friends with others in the group and learn a lot from the tour guide. For big hikes or outdoor activities, you can usually find groups looking to do the same trails to go with, so you can keep each other company and stay safe at the same time.
Remember that it's okay to be selectiveIt's okay to be selective about who you spend time with and make an effort to surround yourself with positive and trustworthy people.
Trust your instincts and use common sense when meeting new people. Don't disclose personal information like where you are staying or where exactly you'll be, and be cautious about accepting invitations from strangers.
If you have any doubts, make sure they know people are expecting to see and hear from you even if you have to lie to excuse yourself from the situation.
By following these tips, you can safely make new friends while traveling and have a great time exploring new places. Want more tips? Read how to avoid pickpockets and keep your belongings safe.