As a perpetual solo female traveler, one of the questions I frequently get asked is do I get lonely?
I mean, what a question! Of course, I get lonely when I travel solo but also sometimes when I am at home.
Traveling without a companion or partner can be completely daunting but I’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling styles of travel.
Like most types of travel, solo female travel has its ups and downs but at the end of the day, I heartily vouch that every person should try it at least once in their lives.
No, I don’t mean a hostel. If you’re a backpacker on a budget and looking for cheap accommodation, shared dorm rooms in hostels will certainly introduce you to people.
But I’m past those years of my life, though occasionally I still stay in hostels but in private rooms.
Nowadays there is a wide range of types of hostels you can stay in, some are categorized as “luxury” even. So when I’m traveling and looking to meet people oftentimes, I’ll book into a high-quality hostel in a private room and spend time in the common room or communal areas to meet people or participate in hostel group activities.
But most of the time I don’t like staying in hostels so I look for smaller, more intimate accommodation options, ones where you meet the owners and other guests easily, like small B&Bs or on AirBnB.
AirBnB and other similar accommodation rentals are a great way to meet the locals and get to see a different side of a destination. I’ve made friends with many AirBnB hosts over the years and it feels like I’m visiting a friend in the city or country where I’m visiting.
Depending on your trip, your travel style and where you are going you might consider hopping on a tour.
Usually, there are a range of tours that meet every type of need and interest. Day tours or multi-day tours, photography tours and budget tours even pub crawls, there are many types to choose from.
Usually, when I’m in a place like Europe, I prefer to travel around on my own, but when I want to get to places where I need a car, I’ll just hop on a day tour instead. It’s a great way to pack in a lot of sightseeing and meet new people.
At the end of every tour I’ve done I usually leave with a couple of new friends and sometimes we would meet up later on and either travel together or just grab coffee. After all, everyone is in the same boat as you.
If I’m traveling to a country where I’m either not comfortable traveling alone (rare now but still it happens) or I’m looking for a different kind or unique travel experience, I’ll book a multi-day tour.
For example, I just came home from a 3 week horseback riding trip through Mongolia with Zavkhan Trekking. Not even sure how I would even begin planning that on my own.
Last year for Christmas I joined in on a small-group local tour around New Zealand called Haka Tours, both of which fitted perfectly for what I wanted and almost everyone else on the tours were also solo travelers. Even if you travel by yourself, you’re rarely alone.
Aside from hopping on tours when you’re traveling around, another great way to stay social and meet people on the road is to join in on group activities.
I love having hands-on travel experiences, like eating, when I’m on the road so I tend to gravitate towards activities like cooking classes, food and market tours, and lots and lots of adventure activities, like bike tours, boat outings, and scenic flights.
Most of these activities book more than one person on them so you are guaranteed to meet people. There is nothing quite like making a new friend as you kayak through rapids or bake a local dish in a new city.
This usually works when you are traveling for extended periods of time and have a flexible schedule on the road, but also it can still work when your schedule is a bit limited.
Once I’ve met other solo travelers, if we’ve hung out a few times and have similar interests or want to go to the same place, sometimes it’s easy to just travel along together for a while.
This happens a lot on the well-trodden backpackers trails in Europe and Southeast Asia but also works in other parts of the world too.
Maybe it’s just me but meeting people has never come easy to me. I am an introvert through and through, and it almost goes against my nature to intentionally be outgoing.
In the beginning, I had to force myself to talk to people. The easiest way is just to be really friendly. Depending on the country, I’ve found the majority of people love friendly solo travelers. It’s less intimidating than when you’re in groups and it just works.
On top of that when I’m traveling I try to have a “say yes” policy when people invite me to things.
Of course, I judge the situation and definitely say no if I feel unsafe or weird, but often times just putting yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding.
These are the moments I tend to treasure the most on the road.