Connect with Others When You Travel Solo
Traveling solo is flexible but can be lonely. Eventually everyone wants a conversation with another human being. Here are some ways to connect overseas with other English speakers. And of course, not get killed or kidnapped in the process.
Note: before you go anywhere with a ‘new’ friend, do 2 important things:
1. Call their cell phone so you get a phone contact. Share it with someone even if that person is not with you at the time.
2. Take a photo of the new friend’s national identity card. Again, share it with another person. If your friend does not have an official identity card, don’t go. (Most countries require a national id card to be carried all the time).
10 Easy Ways to Find Company
- Ask if your college or university has alumni in country. You should start by contacting the Admissions Office, then the Development Office. My university has both alumni overseas and faculty working on interesting projects overseas. You can also ask if an alumna is in the Peace Corps overseas.
- Find an affinity group you belong to: industry or trade group, Rotary, garden club with international affiliates, church organization etc. Visit them or attend their events locally. An example might be visiting a project that an organization has sponsored. NYU sponsors some archaeological digs in Cyprus as an example.
- Check out English speaking newspapers overseas. You can usually find a listing on google.com such as this one: http://inkdrop.net/news/ Remember to scan similar lists of English-UK-Australian etc. ezines. These local newsletters/magazines will also give you an idea of the real street level issues in country that you might find helpful also. Put an alert on your phone for news before you travel; much of what you will get might come from local ezines.
- Look for local English-speaking events: some might be in book stores and some might come from Britain’s active busy English speaking events overseas.
- Expat sites usually list events in different countries. Examples are https://www.expatica.com
- or https://www.internations.org You might find you belong to a local club that partners with an overseas one?
- There are cult guidebooks which attract American groups. Let’s Go written by Harvard Juniors and Seniors often mentions free specials read by other solos, who want the deal. It also mentions casual cafeterias, where again, you are likely to find other solos.
- My personal favorite ‘meet people’ guidebook is Time Out Book of Country Walks. 52 walks from London-one each week, described for difficulty. Each has a time to be at a train station, where to stop for lunch, how to cut the walk short etc. It is likely you will see others doing the same walk, boarding the same train. (This clever book has train times for fast walkers, slow pokes, singles, gay people with the idea of facilitating meet ups.)
- Increasingly review sites like Yelp are used overseas. In a very local restaurant in a non-touristy area of Paris, I found myself talking to another American who also came because of Yelp.
- Don’t forget there are opportunities to meet others on your flight!
Finally, there is the obvious English language tour of a museum, site or walk where you find others you can speak with. This is especially true if there is American history or a connection: Normandy beaches? The Mayflower Pub in East London? A bar showing football in Berlin?
Travel solo but not alone. Be smart. Be friendly. Be safe.