Not every solo traveler is concerned about this but, we hear it often enough, “I want to travel alone but I'm afraid I'll be lonely.”
Solo travel can deliver a very social experience. You can definitely travel alone without being lonely. Just read the story of my most social destination ever: Top Tips for Prince Rupert: The Best of Small Town Travel.
Solo travel offers more opportunities to meet locals and other travelers, and have more meaningful conversations than if traveling with a companion.
Here's why. Rather than being focused on your companion, you're focused on your surroundings including the people around you. You're open to the world. And that, in my experience, makes the world open to you. I've found that people step into the wide open space I create and the results are wonderful.
I’ve met people and shared a conversation, sometimes it’s been a coffee or a meal but other times I’ve spent a week or more with people I’ve met on the road. I’ve spent time with locals getting to know their cultures and with other travelers with whom I not only explored the area we were visiting but learned about their home country as well
Solo travel can be wonderfully social if you know how. Here are my top tips.
How to Travel Alone without Being Lonely: 10 Tips
To some degree, traveling alone but not lonely is up to you and your attitude. You need to want to be social and be willing to try a little harder than you might at home to meet people. Read A Solo Travel Introvert? 7 Tips to Somewhat Social Solo Travel and then follow these tips.
- Choose your accommodation wisely. Hostels and B&Bs are naturally more social than hotels and many resorts. Make good use of the common rooms. Join others at communal tables for breakfast. Have a cup of tea in the evening and meet people. Share your plans for the day, what you did in the evening and what their best recommendations are for where you are and where you're going. Read Best Accommodation for Solo travelers and Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience.
- Travel by train. I have always found trains to be very social. The dining and observation cars are particularly so but even coach can be fun. On my train trip across northern British Columbia this past summer I met a number of people. Among them some who were traveling in two small tour groups. One group invited me to dinner in Banff on an evening we would both be there. Read British Columbia by Train: Budget or Luxury. It’s Your Choice.
- Take advantage of day tours. Day tours give you the best of group and independent travel. Take them as often as you want to spend the day with others but choose as many days on your own as well. In Paris, I took an afternoon tour to Giverny. Read A Day in Monet’s Gardens
- Learn how to talk to strangers. Small talk is a natural gift of extroverts. For us introverts, it's a challenge but it can be done. I've learned how and so can you. Read Travel Solo and, Yes, Talk to Strangers.
- Take a class. Taking a class and learning something new is a great way be social as you travel solo. According to a study by Topdeck Travel, 78% of millennials want to learn something new as they travel. So why not take language or cooking classes. Whatever interests you. Read about my language experiences here A Solo Side Trip to Lyon – and French Lessons! and here A Language School Experience: Solo and Very Social. Also read How to Find Classes when Traveling Solo – 10 tips
- Break up long trips with an organized tour. Independent travel is great and may offer enough social time in the short run. But if you're traveling long term, you may find yourself wanting more company for a period of time. Take an organized tour for a week or more, take a rest from taking care of all the details of travel yourself and enjoy the company of others. Check our Deals page for tours with no or very low single supplements.
- Go to restaurants with communal tables. These can be a tad hard to find but they are becoming more common. Google your destination, restaurant, and communal table and you may just find a few options. Go on Chowhound and ask the foodie community of your destination for suggestions. Read Solo dining? Try restaurants with communal tables.
- Go to coffee shops. Coffee shops are hubs for freelancers and, by nature, very social places. Meet locals and get their recommendations on the town. They also offer free wifi to stay connected with home. Read: Finding the Freelance Hub
- Go local again and again. When you are in one place for a while, go to the same greengrocer, flower shop or restaurant consistently. Be friendly. You’ll be noticed as a new regular and people will eventually chat with you.
- Take advantage of the nightlife. There are many wonderful things to do at night when you travel solo. Take advantage of them. Read What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone – 7 Tips and Night Safety for Solo Travelers: 15 tips