Finding Friends While Abroad
If you have been solo travelling for a while, you know the feeling of loneliness quite well. It’s unfortunate but it’s true: finding friends when abroad is difficult! Considering that you are already out of your comfort zone, thinking about going all out and socializing with complete strangers can be scary. How should you do it? Should you simply approach strangers on the streets, buy them coffee and ask them to be your friend? Don’t worry, there are simpler ways.
- Meetup and Internations
One thing is for certain: unless you are in a secluded village far away from any big city, there are definitely other solo travellers out there feeling the way you do. Use apps and websites like Meetup and Internations, but be careful about going to meetings late at night, and be careful about who you are meeting. You may get a message from a nice local offering you to show you around, but if you’ve never met them, try to stay safe and meet during the day in a open setting.
- Skip the hotel or Airbnb and go to a hostel for the first few nights.
If you are staying in the country for a while, you can even offer hostels to work a shift or two every week in exchange for a couple of bucks. This way, you get to meet people; for example, during my Barcelona trip, one of the best nights I had was with the hostel staff!
- Join Facebook groups for expats.
While in Athens, I joined different Facebook groups made by and for digital nomads. I met freelancers from Poland, Russia, the U.S., Germany, the U.K., and many more. Even if you have no idea about what a digital nomad is or does, just join a meeting and introduce yourself. The worst thing that can happen is that it sucks, and, well, at least you’ll have done some kind of socializing!
- Volunteer for a local NGO.
This is a quick, easy, and meaningful way of getting to know locals and other expats. Often, volunteers will travel around the world and spot NGOs that are in need of help or support. This is your chance; go in, introduce yourself, and meet some people.
- Go out.
This one is fun; go to bars, cafés, and try to engage in discussions with locals. Sometimes, just answering the “where are you from?” question starts an hour-long conversation. Give it a try!
I hope that the tips I’ve given you are helpful. Being social and open to new people is a challenge, but the more you practice it, the easier it gets!