5 Ways to Make Friends while Traveling

When we travel we often find ourselves in places among people who are also traveling the world.  I’ve found that the travel community is a wildly friendly set of people.  In my journeys after briefly talking to other travelers, I have been invited to dinner with them, to drink with them, to do an activity together another day on vacation, or even to travel together to the next few cities that I was targeting.  I’ve had some success in making friends while traveling and hope that you do too.

The fact is that travelers are open to sharing that experience.  You should be too.  But how can you make friends while you travel?  Let’s dig into a few strategies to make friends while traveling.

Make yourself approachable

The first rule to making friends while traveling is making yourself approachable. Some body language basics are essential for inviting conversation as opposed to making people shy away from you.  

  1. Don’t cross your arms across your body, as this is a sign that you don’t want to be bothered
  2. Open up.  Don’t slouch, keep your body open and unblocked
  3. Make eye contact.  If people are looking at you, look back
  4. Smile, smirk, head nod.  These can be signs that you are quite open to being talked to
  5. Start the conversation.  It’s easy.  You open your mouth and ask a simple question. Start it!  It’s the best way to make a new friend.

Disclaimer: You can make travel friends anywhere.  Literally, I have made a travel friend while jumping onto a train in Prague, more on that story another time.  We crossed paths, me and this couple, and found that we both had an American accent, and the conversation flowed from there.  It’s relatively easy to make conversation while traveling.  

Conversation Starters for Travelers

  1. Where are you from
  2. Where have you been on this trip
  3. Where are you going
  4. What do you recommend at this location

The point is that the conversation is easy.  Finding the people that you connect with is a bit harder.

5 ways to make friends while traveling

  1. Go on a walking tour
    1. There are walking tours in every city which are typically group activities.  You join a larger group of people who are all travelers like you which is just an opportunity to find someone interesting to hang out with.  More than that, optionally you can go on a drinking walking tour which tends to make the conversations flow even easier.
  2. Group tours
    1. Yes, going on a group tour for a day or more will expose you to other travelers which means more opportunities to meet people.  If you’re stuck in a vehicle with other travelers you will surely chat along the way.  Remember to enjoy the journey.
  3. Take your meal at the bar
    1. Just like at home, taking a meal at a bar is a way to meet other people.  If you’re in a tourist section of town it is more likely that you’ll meet people who are traveling.  However, I have found that knowing a bit of the country’s language goes a long way.  I’ve had some amazing conversations that started in the broken native language before they shifted to using English.  Some of my favorite memories involve talking to people while eating at a bar, 
  4. At hostels
    1. If you’re young enough to go to stay in hostels then you know that there will be many other people roughly your age there who also are doing interesting things in town.  I find making myself approachable in hostels to be a great way to join people in an activity for the following days
  5. Online – tripr, backpackr & Eatwith
    1. There are a variety of apps available to help you find people to travel with or to simply find an activity with locals.  Apps are certainly worth exploring but come with the standard disclaimer on their true value

So that’s it.  To make friends while traveling just remember, you’re out there to have fun.  Sometimes that means that your plans change so go with it!