Traveling abroad is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It can teach you about yourself, as well as the rest of the world, more than you could ever hope to learn from a book or by staying at home.
Getting out there and experiencing exciting new things first-hand is an indescribably exhilarating way to spend your time, and everybody should try it.
Something that puts a lot of people off the idea of traveling is a fear of loneliness. This fear is not entirely unreasonable either. If you’re traveling, you are going to be a long way from home, friends, family, and loved ones. Even in today’s hyper-connected world of social media, you can still end up socially isolated if you’re alone on the other side of the planet.
But don’t fret – It’s actually very easy to make sure you meet lots of people, and more importantly, that you form strong friendships with many of them.
So, here are some of the best ways to avoid getting lonely and ensure that you make best friends with the people you meet on your travels abroad.
Choose the right kind of accommodation
The type of accommodation you choose can play a big part in keeping yourself from getting lonely.
Wherever you travel, you’re going to end up spending a lot of your time at your hotel, hostel, or guesthouse. After a long day of sightseeing, you’re likely to want to go back to somewhere comfortable and rest.
If you’re staying in a big soulless hotel that’s a clone of thousands of others throughout the world, then you’re probably going to struggle to meet like-minded travelers.
By choosing more socially-oriented accommodation, such as independent hostels, you can make life a lot easier for yourself. These places often have bars and restaurants on-site, as well as areas for relaxing, where conversations with fellow travelers happen naturally.
Another big benefit is that these places are generally the cheapest, so you can save your budget for other things.
It might not be something that has ever entered your mind before, but volunteering is an excellent way to meet great people and build friendships with them.
Volunteering is, of course, all about giving your time to help other people and places that need it, but the social element is often overlooked.
Think about it, what better way could there be of meeting and befriending people than putting yourself in a situation where you live and work among like-minded, kind, generous other travelers. This is exactly what being a volunteer abroad can give you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking after endangered animals in a Ghanaian nature reserve or teaching English to orphans in Thailand, you will be helping a good cause and meeting amazing people every day.
Go on group activities
Another brilliant way to meet and bond with people while traveling is to go on lots of group activities. If you’re a volunteer, this may happen as part of the program, but even if you’re a regular backpacker, you can find sports, sightseeing tours, and more.
Imagine going on a multi-day mountain trek with a group of several other young independent travelers. It would be pretty difficult not to come out of that trip counting the people in your group as good friends.
Force yourself out of your comfort zone
This point applies to every moment you spend on the road. It can be difficult at first, but if you try to adopt a mentality that you want to get out of your comfort zone whenever possible, you will find that you meet a lot more people.
This could be as simple as going up to friendly-looking strangers in your hostel and striking up a conversation. It could mean trying to use the local language of the country your traveling in and chatting with the local people in a market, however embarrassing it might be at first.
Pushing yourself to be a little more socially adventurous while traveling can result in friendships you could never have imagined. Worst case scenario, it will give you some good stories.
This may sound counter-intuitive, as many people get lonely when they are on their own, but traveling alone can actually result in you making a lot more good friends in the long-run.
If you travel with a friend, it’s not to say you won’t mix with other people, but you will have less motivation to talk to others when you know you can easily chat to your travel buddy.
If you are traveling alone in a foreign place, it’s human nature to seek out social interaction and you’re going to have far more reason to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to find new friends.
Being a solo traveler can be great. It can help you to develop as a person more than pretty much anything else in life, so don’t let the lack of a travel buddy put you off seeing the world.
Wear a smile and be friendly
It might seem obvious, but for some people, it doesn’t come naturally. You have to remember that most other travelers are in the same position as you, so small gestures such as a smile, or a compliment, will go a long way and show that you are happy to hang out and spend some time getting to know people.
Most of all, be yourself, stay open-minded, and see where it takes you
Try not to overthink things too much. When traveling, you’ll find that making friends actually comes incredibly easily, and before you know it you’ll have friends you feel like you’ve known forever.
If you do end up feeling lonely while traveling, follow some of these tips and you won’t be for long.