How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo
Over the years, I’ve collected friends like souvenirs carefully selected before a departure. They’re living mementos of my travels and breathing snapshots of moments captured in time.
Scattered across the world, we catch up when we can. It’s always nice to receive a “local’s tour” whenever you visit a faraway city, and I enjoy returning the favor when they come to mine.
As a woman who often travels alone, remaining present and intentional in a world that demands hypervigilance can be a delicate balance. When you’re in a foreign country, self-preservation must always be top of mind, but if you’re a believer in manifestation, then you know that wherever the mind goes, energy flows. Thus, focusing on what you DON’T want is the easiest way to attract it.
So, how can a solo woman traveler make new friends while simultaneously keeping herself safe? Well, I have a few suggestions to share.
First though, I’d like to share an encounter that I experienced while traveling to Positano last year. I’ve kept a diary ever since my first trip abroad, and this is one of many tales written between its weathered pages. I’m a firm believer in listening to your intuition, and something about this situation spoke to me… Often, your body will come into awareness before your conscious mind does. Perhaps through my story, you can observe the balance of being open but maintaining a soft cloak of protection while solo traveling.
September 23, 2021
I arrived in Positano today, and after checking into my hotel and taking a short nap, I decided to have dinner at a restaurant before it got dark. I rarely travel in unfamiliar places after sunset…
The restaurant I chose wasn’t far from my hotel, and it had beautiful outdoor seating overlooking the water. As I walked up, I saw a woman sitting at a table alone; perhaps in her late 20’s to early 30’s. As I wandered over to my table, she loudly exclaimed, “Are you a solo traveler?!”
I looked at her strangely because that’s not something I would ever openly declare, and because several people looked at me when she spoke. I didn’t answer, but instead strolled over to her table. She stated that she was a solo traveler and hadn’t seen many other people traveling by themselves.
I told her, “Yes, I’m solo, but you really shouldn’t announce that…”
She didn’t ask my opinion, so perhaps I shouldn’t have offered it, but I was slightly taken aback at that she would yell across a restaurant at a stranger. I should also mention that she was on the phone with her mom at the time and said she would call her back because she made a “new friend.”
She said she usually doesn’t tell people that she’s alone, but her mom had just left, and she was unaccompanied for a few more days. She invited me to sit with her, which I did, although she was already done eating. She started chatting and asking me about where I was from and how long I would be there. As it turns out, she was from Nashville and traveling to Greece the next week.
While she was talking, I tried to pay attention, but more importantly, I concentrated on the menu because I needed to figure out what I wanted to order. I knew I had about two hours before sunset, and I wanted to eat and get back to my hotel before then.
I’m not someone who can look at a menu and have a conversation at the same time, so I let her know that I would love to chat and get to know her, but to “please give me a second to order so I can be present.” Suddenly, the girl got up and said she was leaving.
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “See you around.”
Although, I had kept my answers about what I was doing in Positano vague, I was still engaging with her, so I thought the entire, abrupt exchange was very strange.
I’m not sure why she reacted that way, but I decided that whatever the reason was, it was none of my business. Spirit had intervened and shortened that encounter because it wasn’t aligned. Still, how very, very strange…
Looking back on that situation, I’m fairly certain that I picked up on her energetic and non-verbal cues, and when she sensed that I “saw her,” it made her nervous.
In my book, “The Muse's Guide to Reinvention,” I speak about humans having the capacity to be “mirrors” for other people, and how sometimes those reflections can cause nervous or fearful reactions – or allow you to “see through” deliberate manipulation attempts.
Whatever that woman’s intentions were, they didn’t align with mine, and that invisible, psychic shield wouldn’t allow her to come closer.
What I’m describing doesn’t have a name. It’s a feeling. More than any other tool in my arsenal, I have relied upon that innate sense to determine whether I should extend friendship to someone while traveling. And it’s never let me down.
Of course, there are also logical and tangible maneuvers to aid and support your decisions to befriend someone while traveling alone, and those include:
1. Always keeping track of time, as well as landmark locations, when accepting invitations to meet with a new friend.
It is your responsibility to be aware of your surroundings and to be able to navigate safely back to your hotel.
2. Know your liquor limit.
Again, it’s your responsibility to monitor your intake. It’s also perfectly fine to get a virgin drink when you go our socializing. I do it often. If you leave your drink unattended, do not drink it again. Order a new one.
3. Meet up for daytime activities, versus nighttime ones.
It can be tempting to want to explore a city's night life, but generally I don't go out at night unless I either know the city very well, am traveling with trusted friends, or have family/friends in the city or country that I'm visiting. Too many things can go wrong, and besides, the best content is captured under the sunlight ;)
4. Always let someone know where you’re going.
You can text a friend or family member your location or use a shareable tracking app such Life 360. Personally, I love using this app whenever I’m traveling abroad because my “circle” can always see where I am – anywhere in the world. Also, if you get into a car accident, it will automatically alert your selected emergency contacts. And no, this is not a paid endorsement. I genuinely love this app and use it whenever I travel.
5. Never allow new friends to meet you at your hotel, or if you do, meet them in the lobby.
And under NO circumstances, should you ever disclose your room number.
6. Watch and listen for inconsistencies in stories.
Sure, forgetfulness is a thing, but if a story doesn't make sense, there's a good chance that the person telling it is being dishonest. Mixing up family details, or forgetting key elements about their life are RED FLAGS.
In summary, I'm aware that this blog took a very serious turn, but traveling solo is one of the most rewarding activities you could ever indulge in, so don’t get too in your head about this checklist.
At the end of the day, travel provides opportunities for serendipitous happenings. You could very well meet your new best friend in the next country you visit!
Don’t allow fear to rule you, but never let logic escape you. Keep your vibration high, and you’ll attract likeminded kin on your same frequency.