How I Make Friends Abroad 

 December 3, 2020

By  Wilson

I think most people have reservations about traveling solo for, yes – safety, but also for the fear of being alone for an extended period of time.

Therefore, I think it’s ironic when I tell people that one of my favorite things about solo-traveling is the social aspect of it.

Yes, you read that right. What I mean is that I’m more inclined to meet new people.

Below are the primary ways I establish a network of friends from scratch when I travel somewhere for the first time.

How I Make Friends Abroad

1. TripAdvisor Tours

I go on tripadvisor.com, search for the city, and search for a tour. If I’m doing a tour longer than a day, I’m more than likely to make friends and stay connected with them. For example, I became really good friends with people I did the 4 Day Machu Picchu Inca Trail Hike in Peru. I still keep in touch with them.

TripAdvisor Tours

I traveled solo to Peru. This is me (x number of beers in…) with some new friends I made on the Inca Trail!

2. Hostels

Another really easy way to meet friends is to stay at a hostel. The majority of people I meet while traveling are very down-to-earth and adventurous, and they’re typically very open to getting to know you.

Hostel in Cairo

Some other travelers I met at the hostel in Cairo

I met several people at my hostel in Cairo, Egypt, and we ended up all going out for dinner right by the Nile, and we ended up partying in the evening!

Anyway, the best search engine for hostels, in my opinion, is hostelworld.com. They center their reviews around important metrics that most people would care about: location, cleanliness, safety, etc.

Related: I wrote an article about how I choose where to stay when I’m traveling. Check it out here!

3. Free Applications

Other times, when I don’t stay at hostels, I stay at an Airbnb by myself. And if I’m not signed up to do a tour, how do I meet people?

A) Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a fantastic app – and the best part is that it’s 100% free. There are two primary use-cases for this platform:

  • Be accepted to crash on a local’s couch for free (or the opposite, host a foreigner). At the end, you can rate each other and accumulate reviews on how you were as a guest/host.
  • Events that are free to the public. It’s cool because anybody can create an event, and, unless the event is private, anybody can join an event.

I was integrated with the Couchsurfing community in Guadalajara, and I made friends immediately when I arrived.

Couchsurfing Community in Guadalajara

Couchsurfing friends in Guadalajara. Don’t judge. It was halloween…

B) Meetups

meetup.com is another great application. Meetup isn’t even travel specific, but it can be. My favorite events on meetups are typically the language exchanges. Oh, there’s a weekly Spanish-English exchange? Bam. Go solo, and that’s 3 new friends after the first meeting. It’s not only a fantastic way of improving your language skills, but it’s also a great way to meet new people.

There are obviously many other categories to “meetup” with other people depending on the city: entrepreneurship, writing classes, community outreach, etc. The list goes on!

C) Facebook Groups

I always join Expats and Foreigner groups of the city of my destination (or current location). It’s incredibly easy to get connected to a future friend who wants to go grab beers or do an activity.

For example, one time I noticed somebody posting in a Facebook Florianópolis, Brazil Expat group. That person said he was new to the place and I noticed he went to the same university as I did! (Go Jackets!!!)

Facebook Groups

Our Facebook conversation after he made the post!

And of course, we became good friends and immediately started a solid friend group.

Closing Remarks

I listed 3 major ways above that I make friends abroad when I travel solo. But don’t count out the random-interactions. For example, I ate at a restaurant alone, sat at a long table, and another person sat at the other end. We started talking, and now we follow each other than the gram and keep in touch. (Shoutout, Hemang!)

This has happened to me at coffee shops as well. And of course… in super social settings like clubs.

At the end of the day, this is basic networking, an important professional skill in my eyes. I have learned a lot through making friends while being alone abroad, and it has become a beautiful thing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Hi, my name is Wilson, founder of WFH Nomad. I was born and raised in the US, and I boast engineering and business degrees from top programs in the US. I work a normal, WFH job for a great company in America. I am extremely passionate about traveling and my job in the Tech industry, and the best part of the WFH Nomad concept is that I can do both at the same time.

I have traveled to over 47 different countries in my lifetime and I look forward to continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future. Thanks for visiting the website!

related posts:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}