Best Ways to Make Friends On the Road Without Endangering Your Life


Sometimes we choose to travel for the freedom it brings. At other times, travel is another way to extend beyond your comfort zone.

Either way, you are bound to meet new people on the way. If you are looking to increase your chances of meeting new people, here are 7 ways for you to put your social skills to use, without endangering your life!

1) Free walking tours

hamburg free tour group photo

Free walking tours have almost no barriers to entry – anyone with any budget can sign up. This is where you will find tourists from all over the world – some who travel as couples, others on their own. Most of them are young, eager travellers, just like you and I, which makes striking a conversation with these like-minded travellers easy!

Who knows, you may find yourself having more things in common than you originally thought. Surely breaking the ice and having conversations while learning about the city beats having a one-way conversation with the tour guide? That was how I befriended a Canadian Erasmus student while we were in Hamburg during a free walking tour (How to hire a tour guide for free?), and that led to an eventful evening later that day, instead of one spent alone!

2) Pub crawl

If you are looking to add more fun and excitement for your trip, try pub crawling. Pub crawl, if you’re new to this term, is where you will follow a guide who will bring you to a couple of bars/ clubs within a night, with a complimentary drink at each bar you go. There’s no better way to make friends than over drinks, great music and dancing! Because you’ll be together with the same group of people at every bar you hop to, the risk of running into nasty people is lower in these places.

As introverted as I am, pub crawl opened my eyes to a whole new experience in Hamburg, having some crazy fun with people I barely knew before the night!

3) Hostels

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary

There are communal resting areas and sometimes a bar in most hostels. Hang around in these places, and offer a smile to anyone you see sitting alone. More likely than not, they feel the same way as you do – apprehensive about saying hello. Start with the basics – ask them where they are from, or their plans in the city, and you could get an easy conversation going! Some hostels even organize game nights or movie nights on certain days, so be actively involved!

One go-to hostel website I frequent is HostelWorld. They have a comprehensive list of many hostels all over the world, often at unbeatable prices!

4) Couchsurfing

Of course, gaining popularity is the website Couchsurfing, a site where you get to look for and stay at a host’s place for free, in return for some cultural exchange.

Sure, you never know what your host may be like prior to the meet, and staying in a stranger’s house can sometimes be daunting. Screening of the host takes experience, but once you have weeded out the bad for the best, your host can give you the best local stories you can never imagine.

Couchsurfing in Cologne
Couchsurfing in Cologne

Apart from getting to know the host itself, on the off chance that there are other guests that are hosted by the same host as you, that is another chance to befriend fellow travellers and travel the city together! That was how I travelled with 2 Ecuador students who were also hosted at the same time in Nice, France, and we ended up taking a day trip to Monaco together!


5) Carpooling

Heading from one place to another within a country? Instead of taking the flight, train or bus, carpooling might be a cheaper option. During the times when I had to carpool from my student town in Rouen, France, to Beauvais airport (where most low-cost carriers operate to/ from in France), carpooling was the only option.

Sunset en route

While I would not deny it takes a certain level of trust to trust a stranger to drive you to your destination in a foreign land, most of the drivers are working class locals commuting in between work and home, so there is a certain level of credibility established. Once you are safe in the car, some drivers can be great conversationalist. It is during these times that I learned how the locals live, about the local economy and the politics of the country.

6) In-flight

As travellers, surely we would have taken flights before. Of the many times we have sat on an airplane, how many times have you struck a conversation with your neighbour?

Sometimes all you need to do is say hi, and a world of unknown will be open to you. That was just what I did on my connecting flight in Athens. I met a Greek girl, and she shared some of the most underrated Greece islands not to be missed. True to her advice, I checked Milos out, and that was the best decision ever.

Milos, Greece
Milos, Greece

Next time you go on board a flight, take special notice of your neighbour’s behaviours. Is he carrying a book you have read before, or struggling with the remote control? Maybe he needs an extra napkin, or an extra pair of hands? That is your opportunity right there!

7) Sleeping at airports

Not many would entertain this option of sleeping at airports, but a select number still do, for reasons such as to save on accommodation or flight costs. Some airports have designated areas for sleeping over, and that is where people in the same situation as you congregate.

While some really do value their rest, others simply need to pass their time. What happens when bored people come together? They start conversations! Some of them really do appreciate having someone they can share stories and spend their long hours with!

Granted, it takes some form of courage to be doing some of these ways mentioned to befriend another. Taking the initiative to strike a conversation may be an uphill task for introverts, but once you take the first step, you will be thankful to yourself for doing that!

Leave as a traveller; come back with a global network of friends!

Best ways to make friendson the road


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17 Comment

  1. Great tips! I have had the most luck with hostels, especially in Central America! Everyone here is basically taking the same route, so we all exchange info on the various places and join together to travel onwards! I also got great advice waiting for a flight to Puerto Rico when two locals saw me poring over the guide book and told me exactly where to go and what to do and even gave me their phone number to contact them! I am a super introvert as well, but travel brings out the extrovert in me!

    1. That sounds like an awesome experience that you had, and also the reason why I love visiting small towns – everyone knows everyone and they are always so friendly and sincere. Glad to hear you’ve had some fun experience travelling alone!

  2. Joe says: Reply

    Thanks for sharing some great tips 🙂 I’m in particular agreement re: Hostels. I think, by default, many of us are naturally inhibited, so it can be a bold step to strike up a conversation with a seemingly random stranger, but it can be so worth it…

    The story of the Greek girl you spoke to is a case in point. Once I started chatting to a French guy next to me on a Eurostar train once, and it turned out he played in the second division of a French football team (Metz, at the time)! He had a spare ticket for his next home game…I wasn’t able to go myself, but I did manage to put him in touch with a friend of mine who was living in France at the time, and he was able to pass it on to him. That was pretty sweet 🙂

    1. That was rad! These unexpected conversations are oftentimes the most memorable ones on the road, aren’t they? Well, thanks for sharing your story Joe!

  3. I tend to be impressed with people who can strike up a conversation with strangers. I’m an introvert, so it sounds pretty intimidating to me! My husband is usually the one who starts chatting to random people when we’re traveling!

  4. Hi Isabel!

    I love this post! Airports and pub crawl really are great ways to meet people. I will have to try some of your other suggestions the next time I travel 🙂

  5. You are a serious, hard-core travel goddess. First of all the whole Couchsurfing thing is genius and terrifying. I am so proud of you for coming up with such a kick ass list. Nicely done.

  6. I love this post! It’s so important to integrate yourself to the culture. When abroad, I found that hostels were such a great place to meet people. It makes all the difference!

    Love this and keep up the meaningful posts!


  7. Great tips! I’m curious: for the carpooling suggestion, how do you go about finding the right people to carpool with? Is there a carpool site where people can get connected? I usually end up chatting with people while covering wineries and restaurants too. Love those connections while traveling!

  8. Tara says: Reply

    These are great tips! I think it’s easier to make friends while traveling than staying home anyway. It just seems easier to relax and get to know people when you’re on vacation. By the same token, I love visiting with tourists/travelers that visit the town I live in.

  9. Angie says: Reply

    These are fabulous tips actually! I stayed at hostels in San Francisco and Seattle with some friends one trip (we drove up the coast from CA to WA) and had a great time! The Hostel we stayed at in San Francisco was so fun that way. It was kind of dingy and old, but we liked that we got our own room and bathroom (since there were three of us) but that they still encouraged socialization a lot. At 9PM they’d walk through the halls with a bullhorn telling everyone to get their butts down to the basement where they had a dance floor, a beer pong table, and all the free beer you could drink. It was a blast and we made a couple of friends on that trip. I still sometimes chat with our friend from Brazil that we met in that hostel, and we were teaching each other words in our languages!

    Also, I’d recommend look up bloggers you read from that area! I’m happy to say I’ve made enough blogger friends that there are a lot of cities I could go visit and not only have someone to hang out with, but likely have a place to stay too. And I hope they’d look me up if they were in my town!

  10. Jojo says: Reply

    Meet ups too! Like Instagram meets or other socials.

  11. Mei says: Reply

    I really need to gather up some courage and travel more!

  12. I love meeting people while traveling. I have met some really interesting people just by talking to someone at the bar stool next to me. I have never done to hostel thing, for me one of my favorite parts of traveling is having a hotel room so IDK if I ever will.
    Great tips 🙂

  13. Kari says: Reply

    My favorite spot is at dinner. I love talking to the tables around me!

  14. Great tips! This makes me want to get back out there and travel again 🙂 Best times of my life.

  15. Oh great ideas! I definitely want to try some walking tours in the area, and now you’ve motivated to do it. Thanks!

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